Grabbing life by the horns with DREAMSWith only a grade 10 in hand, 23-three-year-old Rempie Jeremaia from Omuthiya – like so many other young Namibians – had limited options and was at high risk of living a life in poverty.
Yet, with the help of DREAMS, a program funded by the US Government President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the United States Agency of International Development (USAID), she now has the opportunity to become a professional electrician.
Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored and Safe (DREAMS) is an HIV prevention programme for adolescent girls and young women implemented in the country’s Omuthiya district by Project HOPE Namibia.
Upon leaving school, Rempie moved from the home of her grandmother – who had been caring for her from infanthood following her mother’s death – and began living with a cousin in Omuthiya. The household struggled financially as the two young women survived on odd jobs such as doing nails for the ladies in their community.
When she joined DREAMS, Rempie received psychosocial support from social workers for depression. They also offered her an age-appropriate package of care and health services including education in HIV prevention and financial literacy.
“With DREAMS, I regained my life and my courage. Today I am able to live like other girls do,” says Rempie.
With her newfound optimism, this impressive young woman began volunteering at a local mechanics shop. She did not earn a salary but would sometimes receive small incentives which she saved. It was at this point that the DREAMS programme identified her as being eligible for a six-month course in electrical skills at the KAYEC vocational training centre. The program funded her tuition fees and accommodation near the centre, daily transport to attend her classes, and offered HIV prevention services.
At the end of the training course, Rempie qualified for the national exams through the Namibian Training Authority (NTA). When she passed, the NTA offered her a scholarship to complete the next level of qualification in electrical skills. When asked about her professional development, Rempie responds with tears in her eyes that she feels incredibly privileged and happy to be part of DREAMS. “The DREAMS program made my dreams come true,” she says.