Northerners in Namibia come to rescue of needy residents with Home Grown initiative
Farmers in the north have initiated a project that collects food from fellow farmers to feed communities in need in the Erongo region, which is currently the epicentre of Covid-19.
Apart from collecting food the group also sought funds and requested more local donors to come on board the home-grown initiative.
A few volunteers have also come forward, preparing the donated items and mahangu before it is sent for milling.
The first consignment, which is a truckload of food items including over 2 500kg of mahangu flour, over 1 000 cucurbit vegetables, 150kg of beans, some boxes of cooking oil and maize meal, sugar, lemons and dried wild spinach, is set to depart for Walvis Bay next week.
The initiative, operating under the name Kwafela Oshiwana Foundation, is the brainchild of Cornelius Paulus who is a resident of Ondangwa. Recalling how he came up with the initiative, Paulus said he was sleeping one evening in his bedroom when he heard a voice that compelled him to act.
“I don’t know if it was a dream or it was something else, but I just heard a voice saying: ‘kwafela oshiwana’,” which loosely translated means ‘help the nation.’ “When I woke up I was overwhelmed by that thought. It was disturbing me to the extent that I decided to turn on the radio to clear my mind. When I switched to Eagle FM a number of Walvis Bay residents were complaining about their dire food situation,” he said. “So I decided to call in to make my contribution too. Instead of giving what I initially planned, I just suggested that we as farmers should put our resources together and help out. It was not what I planned to say but I said it.” Several people in the north then called Eagle FM asking for Paulus’ contact details and the rest is history.
A committee consisting of seven was established to coordinate the food collections. The group’s spokesperson Ben Mulongeni says the initiative is barely two weeks old but the response
from the public has been overwhelming. Mulongeni says good Samaritans from Ohangwena, Oshana, Oshikoto and Omusati regions are offering food items, but the committee had transport challenges as they needed to collect the donations from rural farmers in different areas. That was until Archer Willem, the owner of Okapana Total Service Station in Ondangwa, came to their rescue by donating 1 000 litres of fuel worth about N$11 700.
Apart from individuals some churches are now also coming on board by offering money and mahangu from their tithe. Together, JF Trading Enterprises, Simias Investment and FS United have offered five trucks that will be used to transport the food to Erongo. But Mulongeni said they would also need money to mill and package the mahangu before it is trucked to Erongo region.
Magdalena Luanda, an Ondangwa-based woman initially offered a garage at her residence for storing the donations, but the space in no longer enough.
Mulongeni therefore requested community members, especially businesses, to assist by offering a place where the project can store the donated items before being sent to the beneficiaries. “We want everyone in need in Erongo region to benefit, but the idea is not to collect food for Erongo only but for every Namibian in need. We want the project to continue beyond the current situation of Erongo,” said Mulongeni.
Paulus added that they approached the office of the governor of Oshana Elia Irimari to present their initiative and he welcomed the idea.