Mammadu Community Service Centre, a place of refuge for many of the Otjomuise township’s children, held its 4th anniversary last week at which children entertained the audience with a performance about anti-poaching.
The Centre, which opened in Otjomuise in 2011, has been able to remain operational because of international donor funding. It has a kitchen, dining area, classrooms, an assembly hall, playground, sports field, bathrooms and a library.
Agnes Albrecht, who founded the non-profit organisation which runs the Centre, Mammadu Trust, in 2008, stresses that international outreach has been 100% more successful than local outreach. Thus, this is where most of its fundraising efforts are focused.
Citing the importance of the transparent handling of funds and personal contact with donors, Albrecht said “people who have once been to Mammadu and see what we are doing and how we are doing it, well, most of the time fall in love with the kids and Mammadu itself.”
With contacts with tour operators around the world, Albrecht has organized trips for tourists to see Mammadu, which has increased the visibility of the organisation. Mammadu also has a spot on GlobalGiving, a global crowdfunding operation.
Deidre Kwenani, a volunteer from the United States, chipped in. “Albrecht is very good at establishing and maintaining relationships with volunteers from around the world and others who are generally interested in the livelihood of the kids at Mammadu. Therefore, Mammadu does have a presence in a few other countries, mainly Italy and Germany. However, with GlobalGiving, Mammadu now has a global presence, so anyone from around the world can access information about Mammadu and send funds to support Mammadu’s kids and projects,” she enthused.
Mammadu’s fundraising efforts have recently spread out into the Otjomuise community. Some of the mothers of the children and other community members are taking part in a crafts project in which they use recycled materials to make baskets, handbags and other goods. “This not only keeps our environment cleaner, but empowers the women by giving them an income and allowing them to express themselves through their products,” Albrecht noted.
Revenue from the items, which can be purchased at the Mammadu Centre, benefit both the woman who created it, with two-thirds of the sales going back to her, and the Mammadu Centre itself. After visiting Namibia and seeing the inequality in the country, Albrecht established the Mammadu Trust in 2008.
“I was very lucky to be born into my family in Europe. I was loved, received a good education, there was no war or other social problems, and I had a wonderful job. I wanted to try to give to these kids the same opportunities I had, at least give them a chance for a better life,” she added.
Funding from donors, international outreach organisations and the craft project has helped keep Mammadu running, and has also aided the non-profit organisation in fulfilling its primary objective, which is “to care for and support orphans, children and minors who are living in extremely vulnerable conditions, as well as other needy members of the community by providing basic healthcare, nutritious meals and meeting other basic requirements.”
With volunteers from around the world, the children of Mammadu are exposed to diverse people and cultures. Kwenani described her experiences with Mammadu by saying that, “the organisation is well-run, and there are always fun and impactful projects to engage in. Best of all, the kids are fantastic! They are loving, smart, fun, energetic and they all have bright, shining personalities. People come from all over the world just to spend time with themthat’s how cool they are.”
Besides academic activities such as tutoring, basic literacy, language education and computerisation, Mammadu also allows children to participate in excursions, sports activities and trips to farms, the desert, national parks and the coast to familiarise the children with the country at large.
Mammadu faces many challenges, including with paperwork and work permits for volunteers, as this process can be lengthy. Also, Albrecht said various Ministries do not frequently visit Mammadu, which leads to a lack of understanding about the work being done and the impact it is having on the community.
Albrecht continued that it brings her joy to see her kids healthy and happy. “When they get good marks at school, they are my stars and my reward,” she noted.
One of the children excitedly spoke to The Villager. “We love [Mammadu] very much. We will stay here till the end, and we will work hard for [Mammadu]. We are happy that the Lord brought [Mammadu] to [its] fourth anniversary,” the youngster beamed.
Kwenani stressed that there should be more programs like Mammadu. “Personally, I think the aspect of having a purpose is the most beneficial of all, and Mammadu has been the reason why 40 kids in Otjomuise are currently having proper nutrition, a proper education, a safe place to grow and play as well as exposure to people and places they likely would not have otherwise had. Mammadu is the Purpose and the Reason; and that is what life is all about,” she said.