A few months ago I stumbled across a line by the British author Damian Barr - “We may be in the same storm, but we are in different boats." I must admit, it immediately shook me, but only because I recognised the absolute truth within these words and their significance when looking at the past months’ realities, particularly in Namibia. A few months later and I have been able to view and reflect on particular moments and situations, using this very lens: Though everyone is trying to navigate through the same waters, the means to do so, differ significantly from community to community, family to family and individual to individual.
While inequality, poverty and other existing challenges within societies across the world are by no means new realities, COVID-19 has both magnified and amplified these challenges and as a result, these have become more immediate and individually relevant than ever before. There is an overwhelming amount of people who require help and assistance to navigate their personal storms.
Throughout the pandemic, the Gondwana Care Trust has continued to help people navigate their own storms and sow purposefully into the Namibian community. Officially established in May 2017, the sole purpose of the Trust is to empower and encourage, as well as bring hope to our people. By supporting various projects in different areas of the country, the focus is first and foremost, to create longevity and ensure that these projects become sustainable operations, by offering guidance and mentorship as well as offering assistance through donations.
Photo: Marlene Orffer
Back-to-School Christmas Bag Project
One of the projects that was called to life by the Gondwana Care Trust is the Back-to-School Christmas Bag Project. The project runs on an annual basis and is focused on providing stationary and a few treats and sustainable food stuffs (all placed into a reusable bag), to less privileged children across Namibia. The aim is to ensure that these children can start their school year with the necessary items including books, colouring pencils, pens and erasers. Contrary to what you may think, owning items such as a basic stationery kit is not a given amongst most children in Namibia.
The bags are all handmade and each one is individually packed and addressed to a particular child. Beyond the generic items added to every bag, there are additional items added that are personalised according to the child’s age and gender. Younger children, up to the age of eight years old, additionally receive toys as well as colouring books and reading books. For the older children, the bags also include roll-on, body lotion, soap, a small towel, a toothpaste and a toothbrush.
Photos: Gondwana Collection Namibia
After weeks of dedicated packing by Gondwana Team members and volunteers, the bags are then sent off to the various schools and organisations located all across the country. The distribution of the bags is a joyous occasion, as the children each receive their very own, personalised bag – in many cases representing the very first schoolbag they own.
Photos: Marlene Orffer & Sonia Noirfalise
It’s about the little bits of good put together…
Within 2020 alone, more than 30 000 Namibian children have dropped out of school and not returned since. This is not only due to the lockdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic alone, but also due to the lack of finances and parents being unable to afford things such as stationery, exercise books as well as learning books for their children.
In a world where there are so many needs and it is often difficult to know where to start helping, the words of Desmond Tutu come to mind: ‘Do your little bit of good where you are; it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.’
Why not start by committing to donating a Christmas Bag to a child in need for a mere N$200.00? Or instead, you can become involved by donating towards the additional goodies needed for the bags, as mentioned in the list below. Regardless of how and where you feel led to give, we encourage you to play your part in putting a smile on a child’s face this Christmas!
We are currently still in need of:
- Soft Toys
- Wax Crayons
- Roll-on for girls and boys