The Theresia Foundation that cares for disadvantaged children, including orphans and vulnerable children from Mavandje and Sharukwe villages, is in need of financial support to renovate and upgrade its dilapidated facilities into a community centre that will support village residents, particularly women and youths to be productive.
The Foundation was started in 2006 and is registered with the Ministry of Health and Social Services. It is located 15 km south of Rundu, between Mavandje and Sharukwe villages in Ncuncuni Constituency of Kavango West Region.
Its founder, Elizabeth Hilger, has been running the orphanage from her own pocket and with donations from a few donors. She also used part of the income she generated from the sale of Moringa oleifera powder to care for less privileged children.
The Foundation has plans to profit from the Moringa project and also offers different courses for the community, such as classes in sewing, baking bread and agriculture and that is the focus from here on, but will still assist families in supporting their children.
According to Hilger, the foundation has since its establishment looked after 110 orphans and vulnerable children by supporting them with food and they also assist those that have completed school to further their education.
“Currently we have no children at the centre. The building is empty and needs some renovation to use some of the rooms as administrative offices for production and packing of Moringa Oleifera, which the centre has started planting and harvesting. Part will be used as a community library and a community sewing room, where people will come to use equipment for their own benefit for free,” Hilger told New Era.
“Based on a quotation from a contractor the labour and building materials are going to cost the foundation N$516, 286,” she said.
“The total population of people living in Ncuncuni Constituency is plus-minus 8 000. Most of the people here depend on their dryland crop fields during rainy seasons, cultivating mostly mahangu, maize, beans, Bambara nuts, groundnuts and traditional vegetables,” she further said.
“The hostel was built in 2007 to temporarily accommodate boys and girls from poor backgrounds, who had no proper shelter. Recently these children have all been reunited with relatives and extended family, whereby the agreement between the Foundation and family members was that the Foundation kept the children temporarily in the hostel, while the family worked on building proper sleeping rooms for these children.
The Foundation assisted these families and all beds and mattresses donated to the Foundation have been given to the children after the proper accommodation at home was availed,” she added.
Since the children are now reunited with their families, as they are a bit older, the centre is going to be turned into a project to support the community by providing skills development activities and the harvesting of the Moringa Oleifera. The Moringa Oleifera is an income-generating project the Foundation runs to sustain and support the education of children in the village.
“Our first plants were bought from the Ministry of Agriculture in Rundu. Now we’ve planted 5 800 moringa trees. We’re harvesting the leaves, drying it and processing it into powder and selling it,” Hilger said.
Currently the Foundation sells seeds, dry leaves and powder of the Moringa Oleifera. The plant is said to be a good source of protein, calcium, iron and beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A, C and E once it enters the human body.
Moringa Oleifera is classified as a “super food”. The tree grows naturally in parts of Namibia and parts of the plant are said to be safe for human consumption. Hilger says the plant is an energising product said to aid healing and is used to treat skin disorders, sleep disorders, anxiety, depression and allegedly also diabetes.
It supposedly gives one an energy boost and is said to even out blood sugar levels and help one recover more quickly after a work-out.
The children benefit from the orchard, where they look after 482 trees that produce “a highly nutritious powder”, Hilger said.
“Renovating the hostel to be a production office for income-generating activities will see to [the needs of] the learners who continue their education to higher institutions and will create employment in the villages, Hilger said.
“We are appealing to donors, parastatals, businesspeople, embassies, NGO’s and others to come on board and assist us to renovate the hostel to be a production building, so as to improve the lives of people at the village and surrounding areas,” she said.