claudia Namises ran a day care centre for children at her house in Golgotha in 1992 soon after returning to Namibia from exile.
With time, some of the parents stopped coming to collect their children back and she then took them in.
When more people knew about her, they started bringing in more kids whom they dumped on her. But then some people reported her to the police and she was discouraged from keeping the children at her place.
The 17 children who were in her care at the time were taken to the Namibian Children’s Home in Katutura.
Still keen to look after the children, she registered an orphanage she called Olindi’s Place of Safety in Okuryangava in 2000.
Only one of the 17 children that had been taken away returned to her and the boy who is still staying with her is now 18 and going to school.
Soon after, two men brought their children to her saying their mothers had abandoned them and that they had no means of looking after them.
These children are still with her. The boy is 13 while the girl is eight.
Then she got a call from Katutura State Hospital to collect a child whose mother had died at child-birth. Since it was late into the night, she sent a man called Gregory Gaseb, who has since become a partner in the orphanage.
Gaseb says the child he was given at the hospital was so tiny that she fitted in her palm. They called her Hope. Although Hope is four years old this year, she has a hole on her navel which she uses to relieve herself.
Over the years until now, some women have dumped their babies at Olindi and they have also gone out to hospitals collecting abandoned babies. Social workers too have brought them children from abusive homes.
Today, Olindi’s Place of Safety has 12 children aged between seven months and 18 years. Of this number, four are boys and eight girls.
There are five more children – two boys and three girls aged between four and seventeen years - at Claudia’s house in Golgotha.
Although Claudia was in hospital last week, Gregory says a Dutch woman whose name they did not give helps them.
“She buys food; pays school fees for the five children who go to school; and pays rents and bills,” says Gregory.
Hope and two other small children attend Amazing Kids Day-care Centre for free as a gesture of good will from the school.
Gregory says it gets difficult when they raise a child and some people come to take them away, “When you love these kids so much it is difficult to see them taken away, but we have learned that we are just a secondary option especially when there are still court issues that need to be finalised.”
Drusela Isaaks who stays at the house looking after the children too says it hurts her to see children she would have raised as a baby taken away.
Isaaks recalls tearfully a case of a boy whose mother died of Aids. The boy’s aunt dumped him at the centre where he stayed until he was three years old and the virus miraculously disappeared.
She says the same aunt came to take the boy away saying that his cousins wanted to see him, “It was sad when she realised that the boy would never come back again.”
Gregory also speaks about a girl they raised at the centre when they collected her from the hospital. Some family members traced the girl to the centre and then they claimed her.
“We had a serious outing with the law as they insisted we give her to her relatives because as a family, they had a right to her,” narrates Gregory.
Unfortunately, the girl who was diabetic died a week after the family had taken her away from the centre.
Gregory says the Government gives each child N$10 per month but allows them to go for medical check-ups for free at any State hospital.