I enjoyed this report on one of our projects from Catholic AIDS Action’s North-West Namibia Region Manager, Efraim Iipinge, and hope you do too.
Tuyoleni Bicycle Project is an income generating initiative that was established in 2008 by members from Okalongo Home Based Care (HBC) Group. The project came to existence with the help of Amber Lung a Peace Corps Volunteer who was based at Catholic AIDS Action (CAA) Oshikuku office. She laid all the ground work including finding the source of bicycles through BEN Namibia and other sources for transportation, group mobilization to select the project site and members as well as coordinating the training for the project members. [The project implementation costs were raised by Rotary Bramhall and Woodford, and a container of second hand bicycles was shipped by Re-Cycle, both from the UK].
The project is run by five female home based care volunteers and two male orphans who were registered with CAA Okalongo HBC group. All members are still working and committed to the project under the leadership of Ms. Rauha Heita as the Project Manager. This was demonstrated through going to work every day and performing their duties in an orderly manner. The five HBC volunteers remain active in providing care and support to clients and OVC and participate actively in the CAA activities.
Since it was officially opened the project had sold many second hand bicycles to the Okalongo community and repaired numerous bicycles daily at their site. In order to fulfill their social responsibility, Tuyoleni Bicycle Project had assisted many clients and children who were living under difficult circumstances among the community consisting of 13 villages. These were identified through community general observation, home visitation and consultation with community leaders. The in support of community work and in particular the provision of HBC, Tuyoleni had given 28 second hand bicycles to community health workers serving under different organizations. These donations had contributed to shortening the walking time to and from clients during home visits. It also created an alternative transport means to the volunteer when carrying out their households activities. In addition, the project had donated 8 bicycles to community members (4 needy widows and 4 other adults). One of the beneficiaries was Ms. Rauna Fikeipo from Epyaliwa village who expressed her thankfulness to Tuyoleni Project as follows:
- “I am Rauna Fikeipo, 51 years old and a widow without any biological child. My husband died in 2003 after he fell sick at Walvis Bay but died later at Oshikuku Hospital. He was not permanently employed and therefore did not leave much for myself and the four children I have taken in. His death devastated me and affected my health. I was stressed to the extent that I got very ill. I was almost bed-ridden but recovered. Due to the loneliness and stress I opted to join the Parish Choir group at Okalongo ELCIN parish and found comfort every time I was singing. Currently I am in three choir groups that meet every Wednesday, Friday and Saturdays. My house is an hour walk from the parish and I need to cover that distance twice per day to care for myself. My path, pass by the Bicycle Project and many times I hurriedly go without greeting. One day I was called aside by our parish pastor and was shown a bicycle. He told me it was donated to me by Tuyoleni Bicycle Project. I could not believe it and cried due to happiness. I had a lot of questions but could not utter a word. Until this day, I do not know how to thank these project members. God is the only one who would thank them through His blessing. Today I am able to ride and reach the town within reasonable time. I manage to do my household work before I come to the group choirs and reach home before sun set to prepare dinner for the children and supervise them while carrying out their routine tasks. I could not have done so without my bicycle. Thank you to Tuyoleni Bicycle Project members. I pray that God pour His blessings on each and every individual member and to all those who have contributed to the establishment and running of the project”.
Two bicycles were donated to needy children who are walking long distances to schools. Both were identified through HBC group discussions and community observation. I talked to Linus Haufiku who is attending Grade 11 at Tomas Tutaleni Secondary school at Okalongo.
- “I am living with my grandmother at Olupandu village. Life was reasonably ok from Grade 1 – 10 until I completed my Grade 10 at Oshatotwa Combined School last year. However this year I was admitted here at Tomas Tutaleni Secondary School in Grade 11 as a day learner. There is no hostel facility and the school is far from our house. I woke up at 4:00 am every working day to arrive at school in time and could only reach home after sunset. I did not have enough time to study. When I reached home I was tired and when I wake up, it was already time to wash and take the trip to school. There is no public transport from our village to town neither could my parents and grandmother have money to afford it. My mother and father are living at Odila in southern Angola. There is no school there and I don’t want to live there. At first they were saying they will look for a place to stay in town, but later they gave up. My grandmother is taking care of many children and does not have enough resources to manage. I used to reach school even before the teachers every day and worked hard to pass my subjects. One day Ms. Rauha Heita and some Tuyoleni Project members came to our school with a bicycle. They went to the principal who called me from our class. I was struck by the news that the project had donated me a bicycle. I could not believe it and could not hide my joy. This gift had made life easy for me. I am no more waking up too early. I arrive early enough at school and at home after school and am able to help my grandmother with household activities. I find time to read during the evenings and spend time with other children. I am happy for Tuyoleni Project and will study very hard to show my appreciation. I am aiming to score 27 points at the end of grade 11 and even higher in grade 12. I want to become an officer in the tourism sector or become a teacher to contribute to the education of future children”.
Apart from donating bicycles to the community members and helping with mobility, Tuyoleni Project is helping individuals with other needs. Some people were helped to service their bicycles free of charge while others enjoyed free repairs of their bikes. Some needy clients benefited from goods purchased to relieve pressing needs. Among these was Teresia Naambo Mukanda, who was referred to Okalongo HBC group by the local Health Center in 2008 when she was very ill.
- “I am living with my brother and his wife however much of the time I am alone in the house. I have given birth to 2 children but all have died. I am thankful to CAA particularly to these volunteers. I was sick in 2008 and became so thin. I could not walk or help myself. These people came and helped me a lot. They brought me cooked and raw food, they fetched water and wood for me until I gradually recovered. Even this hut of mine, was built with their assistance. I was given a mattress and bedding, clothing and even pay for the builders. One day I was called by pastor Nangongo at Okalongo parish. I went there and he handed to me the kitchen utensils, soap, basin and maize meal saying that all were donated to me by Tuyoleni Project. I was so thankful to them and did not have words to express my appreciation. On my way from the parish, I went to the project and thanked the members for what they have done to me. I am surviving because of these good Samaritans among our community. Now I am up and running. I cook my own food and weave my baskets. I have a lot and people should come and buy. Whoever brought the Home Based Care service to Okalongo , I pray that God bless him and the people serving in the programme” .