The Katutura Youth Enterprise Centre (KAYEC) will continue offering its services, although it is currently seeking new sources of local funding for some of its after-school centres, says its Communication Officer, Nathan Wilkinson.
Several youth expressed concern last week about the possible closure of KAYEC, due to the scaling down of funding by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for some of the programmes offered at the centre.
The problem emerged when the Minister of Youth, Sport and National Service, Jerry Ekandjo, heard various presentations on challenges the youth in the Khonas Region face.
Wilkinson said currently KAYEC is seeking new Namibian funding for some of our after-school centres. “USAID is NOT pulling out, because the needs of Namibians are “not recognised” by the U.S.. They continue to provide invaluable, wide-ranging partnership on different aspects of our national development.
“The end of U.S. seed-funding to KAYEC has always been part of the plan throughout our decade of partnership, so that we can continue growing with sustainable support from Namibian partners here at home,” says Wilkinson.
The KAYEC Trust (one of 17 Namibian non-profits, which the Americans have supported since 2007 partly to help Namibian communities respond to the HIV-epidemic) took the opportunity to thank the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) for the generous funding it provided through the USAID, as it enabled KAYEC to establish a leading network of after-school centres in Namibia.
According to KAYEC Director Nelson Prada: “This seed-money from the U.S. has enabled KAYEC to set up centres in eight towns across the country, where we help 1,200 youths to stay off the street and succeed in school each year.
“American support has made KAYEC and so many other organisations stronger than ever before. We couldn’t have done it without them and now that we have the blueprint for what works in our neighbourhoods, they can let us continue these important services through local funding,” he said.
“PEPFAR is still supporting Namibia’s response to HIV with N$64,000,000 this year,” notes Prada. “The U.S. remains a strong partner of Namibia and it is not going anywhere. It is simply time for other Namibian initiatives to get the same chance to grow as we did, in critical areas, such as anti-retroviral treatment for every Namibian who needs it.”
KAYEC’s after-school activities are designed to provide tuition and personal mentorship to young people, who need help to do well in Grades 6 to 12, as well as to educate them about HIV-prevention, teenage pregnancy and risk factors, such as alcohol and drugs.
From 2012 to 2014, KAYEC helped 67 per cent of participants pass their Grade 10 National Exams, exceeding the Namibian average of 54 per cent, despite the fact that many of the participants face immense personal challenges, such as poverty and illness in the family.
Several KAYEC’s participants testified to the positive impact the project has had on their lives. Meriam Tweufilwa, who began attending KAYEC activities in Katutura as a withdrawn 13-year old, rose to the top of her Grade 10 class at Hage Geingob Secondary School in 2014, and is a leader in several school clubs.
“All this was because of KAYEC,” says Meriam. “My background did not set me back, because I knew KAYEC was always there for me, and yes, of course I want to go study at university. I know how it feels to be a child who needs a lot of help, so somehow I want to work with children,” she said.
“Let me say, KAYEC is my backbone. It’s the one place that lifted me up. If it was not for this programme I’d quite likely already be in jail, or maybe even dead. I just want to say ‘thank you’ to KAYEC,” said Kasongo Kabongo, a Congolese youth, who came to Namibia’s Osire refugee camp at the age of eight. He has since become a mentor and tutor to younger boys in Okahandja, after joining the KAYEC centre there in 2010 as a sixth-grader.
KAYEC is now actively seeking new and diverse local and international funding partners to enable them to continue providing these essential community services and is appealing to the local community to contribute.