Eveline de Klerk
Walvis Bay-Deputy Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources Chief Samuel Ankama has hailed Walvis Sunshine Centre as one of the success stories in supporting children with disabilities that needs to be emulated throughout the country.
Chief Ankama was one of the speakers at the advocacy, partnership and resource mobilisation gala event that took place in Walvis Bay on Friday for the centre that also celebrated 21 years of existence.
The Sunshine Centre was founded in 1996 to assist mentally and physically challenged persons at Walvis Bay. Since then the centre has grown in leaps and bounds and despite facing severe financial challenges it has managed to stay afloat through contributions by the business community.
The centre is one of the few places in the country that opened its doors to children and persons living with disabilities and has seen to it that many of them have been successfully integrated into mainstream education, while others became productive citizens as part of the country’s workforce.
Their ambition to succeed is clearly visible as the centre has produced world-class athletes, such as Paralympic gold medallist Johanna Benson and renowned body builder Ruben Soroseb, who not only became national heroes but are an inspiration to all Namibians.
Another resounding success story is that of Humpries Uirab who, despite being physically challenged, is currently employed as a maintenance manager at the Protea Hotel Walvis Bay.
The centre, which started as a community-based organisation, currently accommodates about 30 children and young adults between the ages of two to 30 years.
Applauding the centre and the successes it has attained, Ankama said it was indeed inspiring to know that the Walvis Bay business community and individuals have been assisting the centre, despite the economic challenges they also face.
“It is indeed heart-warming to see that we are true partners when it comes to our children and there is absolutely no reason why we should not support them,” he said.
He added that it is a known fact that many children are still deprived access to mainstream education, regardless of whether they are able-bodied or physically challenged.
“Therefore I want to appeal to all throughout Namibia to learn from the Erongo Region. They have identified the need for centres that can allow our challenged children and adults to become productive citizens, as well.
“They should be given a fair chance to become self-reliant. So, let us emulate this success story of the centre in all regions and invest in our people with disabilities, so that they can also become productive citizens like all of us.”