Orphans congratulate Geingob on birthday

05 August 2019 | Government

Eighty-eight orphans and their caretakers on Saturday welcomed President Hage Geingob and his wife, Monica Geingos, to Hope Village orphanage to celebrate the president's 78th birthday with a braai and a large cake fit for a president.

Hope Village founder Marietjie de Klerk said the president's decision to share his birthday with the orphans was appreciated and caused great excitement among the children, staff and volunteers.

De Klerk founded Hope Village 11 years ago when she saw the need of children orphaned by the HIV epidemic. She soon realised, however, that the need for homes was bigger than that.

“It quickly became bigger than that. It became about abandoned children and children from households struggling with drug and alcohol misuse and more.”

Hope Village currently runs four houses, one for boys, one for girls, one for toddlers and one for babies.

Since some of the children who grew up at the orphanage have gone on to study or graduated from Grade 12, they also offer a halfway house to help them until they can afford a place of their own.

Hope Village provides a safe home for children who otherwise would be living on the streets.

“It's really a place where we take children who have no one that can look after them at all. And many times there is only a single mother, and she is sick and can't work. So it's a place where if they weren't here, they would be either on the street or some of them would not survive,” De Klerk says. She stresses that while Hope Village plays a major role in the lives of those living there, the need for more such homes is urgent.

“So, we play a large role, but more can be done, because the need is just so big here.”

De Klerk says her goal is to give the kids a “home that I would give to my own child”.

They are fed, clothed, taken to school, encouraged to take part in sport, and counselling is provided too. Currently the children attend 12 different schools. The orphanage staff drive about 2 000 km each week just to take them to school and back, and to hospital.

Because of the economic downturn it has been tough to keep the home afloat.

“We rely completely on sponsorship, and these last two years have been very, very difficult because of where the country is at the moment. It's a big challenge for us. But, thank goodness, the children have never been hungry, they are doing well,” De Klerk says.

Anyone interested in supporting Hope Village can contribute their skills or volunteer to visit the children, and financial assistance is always welcome.

“We like people to visit to spend time with the children. Especially men; we have lots of women visiting, but we have a big group of teenage boys or pre-teen boys who need that male influence,” De Klerk says.

JANA-MARI SMITH

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