Giving hope to the destitute

Promiseland Trust is ­challenging the Walvis Bay community to sponsor a meal for a child on a daily basis.

18 August 2019 | Social Issues

Walvis Bay • Leandrea Louw

The Promiseland Trust, established in Walvis Bay in 2009, feeds more than 2 500 children across the town every day.

Founded by Tobie and Magda Nel, it initially began as a soup kitchen only, providing 250 children with food, and branched out with numerous projects assisting vulnerable children.

According to Magdel Enslin, project coordinator at the trust, learners from seven schools benefit from the daily feeding scheme. These include Flamingo Primary School, Duneside High School, Narraville Primary School, Tutaleni Primary School, !Nara Primary School, Duinesig Combined School and Kuisebmond Primary School.

“About 200 to 370 children are fed every afternoon from Monday to Friday. A large number of children in the Tutaleni neighbourhood have come to depend on the Promiseland Feeding Project for their daily meal, as many of them often don't get a decent and nutritious meal at their homes,” Enslin said.

Promiseland recently moved the soup kitchen from their premises to Tutaleni Primary School. “This was a huge step, as the children can now be seated under shade netting and enjoy their meal. The project has also helped the children staying off the streets by allowing them to come and spend afternoons playing at the centre, waiting until meals are handed out.”

According to Enslin, most of the children receiving food at the soup kitchen are children whose parents have passed away or are unemployed. “Many of these children are also abused physically and emotionally at their homes. Alcohol and drug abuse plays a huge role here. I cry my eyes out on many mornings. All the children desire is love, and to feel wanted and cared for.”

In addition, the trust operates a pre-primary school that accommodates and provides daily meals for 60 vulnerable children.

The children are taught based on the Montessori curriculum.“With the Forming Project the focus lies in assisting and developing intellectual playing, social well-being, personal development and fine motor skills.”

Foster care

Another project under the auspices of the trust is the Foster Care Home. This is a permanent and safe home where two vulnerable children live until they reach legal age.

“Although the initial focus was to create a cluster foster care centre where more children could enjoy a safe and loving home environment, current legislative requirements and budgetary constraints have limited us to realise this goal. We are currently leasing the home where the two children are living, and we've appointed a 'foster mother' or caregiver caring for the children's needs on a 24-hour basis. Social workers visit the foster home regularly to evaluate the progress of the children and the effectiveness of the foster care.

“Unlike other foster homes, we are not bound by the stringent statutory registration and child placement processes, where children are often bumped around to different foster parents. This is a very traumatic experience for young children and often creates mistrust in adults and the system. We also ensure that the children go to school, and receive the necessary remedial therapy and trauma counselling.”

The trust is also in the progress to establish the forth project, called First Steps. “This project serves to protect and assist vulnerable expecting mothers in the pre- and post-birthing process.

“The second phase will involve a day care centre for babies and toddlers aged between 0 and 3 years. We're looking at a long-term solution to host all our activities under one roof and to introduce vocational training on farming, to teach people how they can grow their own food and become self-sustaining.”

Enslin said that the help of long-term sponsors enables the trust to keep the soup kitchen running.

“I'd like to challenge the community of Walvis Bay, both individuals and businesses, to sponsor a child N$100 per day for 21 days a month. With a N$100 budget per meal, we can afford to give these children a nutritious meal. We've lost many donations and sponsors due to the downturn of the economy."

Currently Promiseland Trust has eight trustees, with three teachers and ten other staff members.

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