Lending a helping hand
21 February 2020 | Local News
This was the case for Sylvia Gabriel of Elephant Tree House.
According to her, the charity was started a few years ago in the United Kingdom when she was involved in outreach work for a local House Church on social media. “I came across a youngster who wasn’t able to attend class, eat properly and was living with an uncle who treated her like a slave. It became apparent that her family had cut her off in her first year of university and she was in danger of dropping out and becoming homeless,” Sylvia says.
Sylvia began helping the student and soon discovered that her two sisters and some others were in similar circumstances. Sylvia felt they were very vulnerable and needed someone to provide for them.
In Namibia, many students face similar circumstances and so the Student in Need Initiative, through the Elephant Tree House, was born. Elephant Tree House is a new charity already working in a very small way across Namibia to support youngsters who have been orphaned or abandoned by their families during their tertiary education and training.
“We provide a needs-based welfare program for our youngsters, which can vary from full sponsorship to an occasional grant for various things like optical and dental treatment, room deposits, beds and kitchen equipment,” Sylvia explains.
The Student in Need Initiative was their response as an NGO to an urgent request for assistance from a friend. “The student has a place open to her at a local university but may not be able to make use of the opportunity if she can’t support herself financially,” Sylvia says.
Thus the hope is that they are able to find the student a host family for the duration of her tertiary studies. “We hope that host families can provide appropriate levels of financial support including pocket money and an allowance for books. Some students may also have additional needs due to their Special Educational status,” she explains, adding that being a host family, would also include a decent room and meals.
“But not everyone needs a host family, so sponsors to support those who have lower levels of need and are more independent, are also welcomed,” Sylvia says.
If you want to become involved, contact Sylvia at [email protected]