German Activist Started A Nonprofit At Age 20 On A Mission To Help Children In Namibia Get An Education

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German Activist Started A Nonprofit At Age 20 On A Mission To Help Children In Namibia Get An Education

A German woman has been speaking of her work in Namibia to alleviate poverty and improve the lives of children living in the south-east African nation. Lena Palm was just 20 when she set up Wadadee Cares which has now been operating for 5 years as an aid organisation bringing hope to thousands of young people. In an interview with Global Citizen she laid out the successes and challenges the organisation has faced and how CoVid-19 has affected their work.


Lena was no stranger to Namibia before she set up the charity. As a child she made numerous trips to the country with her mother, who worked as a researcher in the country and after graduating from high-school, took up a 6 month post as a volunteer helping a children's home in the town of Katutura. It was after that, in February 2015, at the age of 20, when she decided to create her own organisation to tackle the problems she saw affecting the nation's children. Since 2015, Wadadee Cares has been running kindergartens, pre-schools and food distribution centres.


Namibia and Germany have a long connected history. The country was a German colony up until 1915, when it was taken over by South African forces. It achieved independence from the racist anti-black South African regime in 1990. During German colonial rule between 1904 and 1908 the German Empire committed what is known as the first genocide of the 20th century, murdering as many as 100,000 tribespeople. Since then, many Germans have focused their aid work upon Namibia due to this connected history.


In an interview with Global Citizen, Lena discusses what parts of her project were closest to her heart, emphasising the overriding importance of education:


"I think that education is the highest good in our society , and starts with the smallest among us. Although school attendance is compulsory in Namibia, there aren't enough school places for all the children in Katutura. So many children don't have the opportunity to go to school, especially if they don't speak English. This is where the private initiatives we work with come into play, to help prepare the majority of all children in Katutura for school, teach them English, and make sure they get a school place. Without these kindergartens and preschools, many children would be completely denied access to education. Without education, no child can go far — and they are then threatened with the devastating cycle of poverty, unemployment, and disease. "


When asked about the biggest hurdles her project, and those she helps face, she said:


"From hunger and language barriers, to destitution, disease, racism, and violence, it's all there. I think the biggest hurdle for many children here is the assumption that they can't escape poverty anyway. In society, the image is often conveyed that living in Katutura is a bad thing and that therefore children have no chance of accessing education and getting a good job."


Lena says that the affect of CoVid-19 lockdown has been hard on the country but that the government acted quickly to stop further spread of the disease. One aspect she however worries about is the lack of tourism which Namibia relies on for a huge amount of its income, something that could further entrench poverty in the future.


Lena says she intends to keep her work going indefinitely and to bring real progress to the country, and that her ultimate goal is simple:


"My wish for the future for all of our children is the same as for my younger siblings in German: for them to have the freedom to choose how they want to live , and for them to have all options open to them, regardless of their skin colour or origin."

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Thinking Humanity: German Activist Started A Nonprofit At Age 20 On A Mission To Help Children In Namibia Get An Education
German Activist Started A Nonprofit At Age 20 On A Mission To Help Children In Namibia Get An Education
A German woman has been speaking of her work in Namibia to alleviate poverty and improve the lives of children living in the south-east African nation. Lena Palm was just 20 when she set up Wadadee Cares which has now been operating for 5 years as an aid organisation bringing hope to thousands of young people. In an interview with Global Citizen she laid out the successes and challenges the organisation has faced and how CoVid-19 has affected their work. Lena was no stranger to Namibia before she set up the charity.
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