Despite COVID-19 and many lockdowns, we closed off 2020 with a wonderful blessing for our preschool children. Stadtmission Church collected Christmas gift shoeboxes, filled to the brim with goodies, toys, sweets and much needed toiletries. Our children were blessed not only with these special gifts, but also with the message about the best Christmas gift ─ Jesus! We are grateful for this beautiful gesture and the church’s faithful support.
Pre-school & Daycare
The new 2021 school year opened a bit later due to national COVID-19 restrictions. Thankfully, from the end of January onwards we have been able to welcome the children every week. In February we received a brand-new school uniform made by our work project, Anusa. It has the following words embroidered on the back: “I am beautiful, I am special, I am loved”. This is how we see our pre-school children!
The teachers at the Katutura Centre are currently implementing a new curriculum which is a more child-centered approach of learning. For example, the children are given a squirt shaving foam on their table in which they can write the different letters of the alphabet. Another example is the use of games to make learning more interactive and fun. We also introduced a few new programmes for our pre-school to enlarge their academic mindsets: a music class, a dance class and an entrepreneurship class.
We started a new department which encompasses the different disciplines of the Arts. Our vision is to see our youth equipped with tools for them to be able to make a change in their community. It is scientifically proven that the Creative Arts help to develop the brain. This is just one of the many benefits of the Creative Arts.
For the younger children, we offer flute and violin lessons, in co-operation with Youth Orchestras Namibia (YONA). For the youth, we started guitar and piano lessons. On an almost daily basis, there is a lot of music to be heard at our Centre! Artsplash is another new programme, which has to do with learning and developing four different disciplines of the Arts: dancing, singing, writing (poetry) and drama. Every week the youth receive “homework” to challenge themselves in these different disciplines. The youth are very excited and we have a long waiting list for this programme! All these different Creative Arts programmes are for the children and youth to grow and develop their talents. It also gives us, as staff, a great opportunity to build relationships with them.
Youth and Kids Club
This year started off with a lot of new ideas and a new programme. We thought of how we could build relationships with the youth and their families, as well as how we can walk a personal journey with the youth and kids. We decided to do house visits and connect with the parents of the youth and kids on a weekly basis. Visiting the families helped us to find out where they come from and how we can support them. These visitations opened our eyes again to see the poverty in which all our children and youth are growing up: the houses are leaking (we had some heavy rains); shortages of food and in almost all the households; and no money for school stationery. These visitations impressed on us again the importance of having a safe and nurturing learning environment at the Beautiful Kidz Centre.
As we were doing the house visits, we received positive feedback and testimonies. One older sister said: “We are incredibly grateful that you work with kids and for the programmes you have. It keeps the kids off the streets and I can see how my brother is developing. He challenges our faith at home and we can see that he wants to do what’s right.”
Another new programme is the Boys Club. About 10 boys attend the Club every week. We discuss topics like manhood, sexual relationships and identity. This programme is really needed because most children in Katutura grow up without a father.
We currently have 60 children attending the homework classes, divided into five classrooms according to their academic levels. Though the demand is high and we have a long waiting list, we are only able to handle 60 children at a time. The children are far behind with their schoolwork and the classes aim to close the gaps. We have been testing those who applied so that we could identify the children who need English and Mathematics lessons the most.
January is always the busiest month of the year. This year the schools opened late in January and so the parents also did their buying of the uniforms late. At the end of January and the beginning of February the shop was overcrowded with people, but we were thankful that they came in large numbers to buy the school uniforms! Financially, it was a good start and we therefore could hire two new seamstresses. This means that our team has increased from 11 to 13 full-time employees. The aim of Anusa has always been to create jobs and to give people dignity.
In February we had the wonderful opportunity to hand out 475 school uniforms at 12 different schools in Katutura. The Capricorn Group (a Namibian Investment Cooperation) sponsored all the uniforms in order to help the needy. What a blessing to see learners who were wearing old uniforms, transformed into “beautiful kids” with a brand-new school uniform! From our side, we also gave all the 475 learners a washable facemask.
Since the start of Anusa years ago, we never really invested in marketing. Customers knew where to find us through word of mouth, but there is still a world to win. Therefore, we decided to hire a professional to design posters for us. Featured on the posters are learners from the Beautiful Kidz afternoon classes. We are proud of the end-result and so are the children who are “shining” on the posters!
Our vision and mission for this project is to develop a curriculum and offer training courses about raising children (parenting). We want to influence members in different communities around us, with the aim that they will be equipped to train others. We will also start up community support groups to create greater awareness in the community as a whole and therefore have a greater impact.
In the first workshop we spoke about what it means to love our children. We all say we love our children, but the big question is if we also act like that. It was interesting to observe many parents coming to the realisation that their behaviour towards their children is not always as loving as they thought it to be. One can think of examples like spoiling our children because we do not want them to throw a tantrum, or disciplining children in a way that looks more like child abuse than loving correction. There is a lot to learn, but so far it has been wonderful to see the eagerness of the parents and how much they want to better themselves. We are praying for a great change with this new project for the community.
Beautiful Kidz Namibia
Account Number: 8001077880
Branch Number: 483-872
Swift code: BWLINANX
After participating in the Desert Dash two years in a row, we started a real cycling team at the beginning of the year. Currently, we have 7 cyclists on board, 4 boys and 3 girls. Through donations we purchased new bicycles and each of our cyclists received a helmet, cycling shoes and tops. We have a bicycle room where we keep the bicycles safe and we also have tools to fix them. Our plan for the year is to have 10 training camps and 4 competitions before the Desert Dash (which is the main event at the end of the year). It is great to see that the team is committed and working hard. Motivation, guidance and mentoring are part of our cycling training goals in order to have disciplined cyclists at the end of the year who become role models in their community.
A mother of one of the cyclists explained that she is happy that her child is doing cycling training every week because it helps her child stay off the streets on training days and it is a great learning opportunity!
The children at the Ovitoto Centre were also blessed with shoebox Christmas gifts from Stadtmission Church in Windhoek. The Toyota bakkie was loaded with the presents wrapped in Christmas wrappings and Brian felt like Father Christmas when arriving at Ovitoto with the parcels! The children were filled with joy and excitement when they saw the gifts at their Christmas party. What a joy it is to make a child’s heart happy. Thank you to the Pastor, staff and members of Stadtmission Church for blessing the children in this special way.
Celebrating Independence Day
This was surely one of the most memorable days for the staff and children of Ovitoto. Independence Day is a joyous and colourful day for the people of Namibia. At the preschool, the parents from the different tribal groups dressed their children in their different tribal outfits. The Herero girls were dressed in their colourful dresses and the boys in their traditional outfits. The Damara/Nama girls and boys were dressed in their colourful “lappies” outfits.
Then there were those from the San tribe with their outfits made of animal skins. Sarah invited the Chief and the Regional Councilor to attend the celebrations and you can just imagine how proud they were to see the children with their Namibian flags and their colourful dresses, celebrating Independence Day.
Every Saturday, Rosa, and her helpers use the big, three-legged pot to cook soup for about 80 hungry children. The children bring their own containers and once they have received their portions, they go back to their families.
January was a busy month of community work because of the Christmas holiday season. Many people were hungry as there were so many children staying home for the holidays. We had to help and serve people in five different villages.
The Young Mothers and the Pregnancy Support groups met regularly. There are 15 Young Mothers and 20 ladies in the Pregnancy Support group.
Anusa Gave Uniforms
Anusa gave all the children in the preschool beautiful uniforms and the children felt special!
We were blessed with a very good rainy season this year, so we decided to start with a small vegetable garden at the centre. It rained almost every week and it was not necessary to carry water to the garden to water the plants. Though we sowed the vegetables a bit late, we were able to harvest the spinach. We are hoping that the frost will stay away for a while, so that we will be able to harvest some of the other vegetables as well.
In honour of Independence Day, St. Paul’s College primary school children donated non-perishable food items to those in need in Ovitoto. Jennieke attended an assembly where the donated food items were officially handed over. The items were made up into 100 food parcels and were then distributed to families in the community who needed food the most. Thank you to the scholars and families at St. Paul’s College for blessing so many people in Ovitoto.