WINDHOEK, OCT. 4 – In 2002, Brian and Pam Kinghorn, a couple from South Africa, witnessed the scourge of HIV and AIDS, how it was disrupting the lives of Namibian families in Katutura and decided to make a difference.
Gender Inequality and lack of consistent income made the situation even unpalatable.
The Kinghorns attended HIVand AIDS and psycho-social courses focused on vulnerable children in order to gain insight into the children’s plight. They also conducted research to assess the community’s needs and it was evident that a place of shelter and safety was needed.
In 2003, they located a dilapidated building. After negotiations with the owner, it was agreed that a portion of the building be used free of charge for a period of three years, after which, it would be sold to the Kinghorns.
This is how Beautiful Kidz was born – a welfare organisation affiliated to Youth with a Mission (YWAM), catering to the needs of vulnerable children. Three years later, Holland’s Christian TV Station, E O Metterdaad, offered the funds to purchase and renovate the building.
The organisation opened its doors with 34 vulnerable preschool children and three staff members. Today, it has two community based centres: One in Katutura and the other in Ovitoto, near Okahandja.
These facilities offer education, youth, sport and outreach programmes to the communities they serve, especially the children.
Despite having established Beautiful Kidz and being of service to the community, they realised that there was still something missing.
“All of the children that come to Beautiful Kidz are from underprivileged and poverty-stricken households. Something had to be done about their home situations,” said Anusa’s Project Manager, Jennieke Kafuka-Bolier.
In 2009, Anusa, a needlework project under Beautiful Kidz, was created to generate an income for the unemployed mothers of the children attending Beautiful Kidz. Loosely translated in Damara/Nama as ‘worthy or dignified’, Anusa got off the ground with simple embroidery projects which the women produced at their homes and brought to the centre every week.
The finished products, mostly aprons, would then be exported to Holland.
The idea yielded positive results but Kafuka-Bolier noticed that customers bought their products mostly because they felt obliged to support the welfare initiative.
As a result, Anusa changed its business approach to give it structure, a mission, goals and operating procedures.
In 2012, Anusa restructured and entered the school uniform business. The Project started with a total of six women; four on sewing machines while the rest were responsible for cutting and ironing.
“We then sought financial assistance from Bank Windhoek with the idea of buying more sewing machines, to renovate the establishment and to build a new shop. The Bank did not hesitate to assist,” said Kafuka-Bolier.
To create awareness, vigorous marketing campaigns at shopping malls and community centres around Katutura followed. Three years later, Anusa was able to break even and cover its operational costs.
Today, with its 15 full-time employees servicing 23 schools, Anusa aims to create more jobs and quality school uniforms at a reasonable price. The centre also aims to make a profit in order to contribute to poverty alleviation and Namibia’s education sector via the Beautiful Kidz Project.
To gain a competitive advantage, Anusa is strategically located close to its customers so that they do not have to travel to the central business district to buy school uniforms. Apart from this, it offers personal, dedicated services such as fittings and other necessary adjustments on the premises.
Anusa believes that its facilities, quality and customer service, are of the highest standard, giving it an economic advantage in the competitive and seasonal school uniform industry. The Project is on a path of excellence and has more stock available now than before after being assisted by Bank Windhoek with a stock control system.
But success comes with challenges. Although Anusa is self-sustainable, its profit margin is minimal. To overcome this, it has planned on expanding its premises to stock more products and materials.
Making a difference
Beautiful Kidz and Anusa have positively impacted people’s lives and has seen many success stories. Most of its young beneficiaries are now furthering their studies at various tertiary institutions around the country while others have been deployed into the job market.
For instance, Sharyl //Gases, is employed by Bank Windhoek’s Emerging Small and Medium Finance Branch as a Sales Advisor. She is a member of Beautiful Kitz’s Hope Café, a youth initiative started by one of the organisation’s youth.
Originally from Holland, Kafuka-Bolier joined Beautiful Kidz as a volunteer in 2005 after completing her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Law. She only planned on staying for a year but she grew fond of Namibia and returned a few years later. Kafuka-Bolier is now married to a Namibian and has two children. She regards herself as a Namibian.
Sara Pienaar, responsible for sewing, is one of the first woman to have joined Beautiful Kidz and Anusa more than eight years ago. “It was not easy. But things have changed for the better,” she said.
Anusa’s Supervisor, 27-year-old Geniele Kido, said that the organisation offered her employment. “I am grateful for the opportunity granted to me,” she said.
“The youth should appreciate life. If they fail at something, they should dust if off and try again,” said Anusa’s Hem Overlocking Specialist, Stephanie Kaurira.
After failing grade 10 in 2010, the 21-year-old became pregnant with her second child. Anusa was her second chance. She plans on studying nursing and said that being at Anusa makes her proud since she is able to produce school uniforms for underprivileged learners. “I will never give up on myself. I know I am young and there is a future for me,” she said.
Clothing Presser, Meriam Garises, the mother of Kaurira, said that Anusa has completely transformed her life. “I came here when they took my daughter away since I could not take care of her due to my alcohol addiction. I then decided to turn my life around,” she said. Both of her two daughters are beneficiaries of Beautiful Kidz and Anusa.
Kafuka-Bolier is pleased to witness the positive change in her community. Her goal is that Beautiful Kidz and Anusa continue to motivate, show belief and encourage its beneficiaries to always know that they are valued. “No matter what role you play in life, you can always offer a helping hand. Bank Windhoek understands this and we appreciate what they have done for us,” she concluded. – NDN Staffer