Poor kids will go hungry during Covid shutdown

18 March 2020 | Disasters

As a precautionary measure to curb the spread of coronavirus, a Grootfontein community centre that offers after-school meals to over 100 underprivileged children has closed its doors until further notice.

According to Elizabeth Petrus, the founder and CEO of the Victory Children Community Development Centre, they stopped their operations following President Hage Geingob's call for precautions to slow down the spread of Covid-19 in Namibia.

The centre offered daily after-school meals to vulnerable children from informal settlements, even during school holidays when the number usually doubled.

“I had to make the decision and close the centre until further notice because of what the president said we should do,” Petrus said.

Petrus said she was sad that more than 100 children were going to suffer.

Petrus said most of the children visiting the centre are from Grootfontein's Blikkiesdorp informal settlement and their parents are either not at home or cannot afford to provide them with meals.

She added that the situation was worsened by the fact that poor children would no longer receive food from the school feeding programme since schools were closed until 14 April.

“The kids come to the centre because they are from poor backgrounds and their parents would go to the cuca shops in search of alcohol and neglect their children with no food at home. With the schools also closed, the kids are unable to benefit from the school feeding programme.

These children will suffer and I wish I could help them but I cannot,” Petrus said.

Petrus is also worried about the likelihood of the children contracting Covid-19 in the unhygienic environment they live in.

She urged parents to look after their children and keep them safe from infection.

Petrus, who was orphaned at an early age, said she started the after-school feeding programme in September 2018 and operated from under a tree at Omulunga Primary School, where she teaches.





At the time she could only cater for 15 children from the Blikkiesdorp informal settlement, but this number has now grown to 100.

The learners are served meals and also take part in various activities from Mondays to Fridays.

Since Namibian Sun published her story, a number of donors have sponsored her with materials, funds and equipment to set up a playground – the only one in town.

KENYA KAMBOWE

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