Meet Helena Kandjumbwa who is a Social entrepreneur. She recognized a social problem and she is creating a social change by employing entrepreneurial principles, processes and operations. Helena is the founder of Upliftment Projects Namibia (UPN) that sets improve/develop the standard of early childhood education in the impoverished communities on Namibia.
Tell us about yourself?
I’m a 22year old Paralegal Studies graduate and full time Law student at the University if Namibia. In addition thereto, I’m the Founder & Operations Manager of Upliftment Projects Namibia and a World Economic Forum Global Shaper. I’m a strong believer in Christ and consider myself a renaissance woman, which has influenced my profound reverence and appreciation for different cultures, people and languages (I’m currently learning my 5th language). Generally, I’m cheerful, playful, energetic and in good spirits, but I also tend to be very shy and reserved.
Tell us the NGO name and a little about the NGO?
Upliftment Projects Namibia (UPN) is a Section 21 Non-Profit organisation founded in 2016 that endeavours to holistically improve/develop the standard of early childhood education in the impoverished communities on Namibia. This primarily includes identifying self established preparatory schools in deplorable conditions for the purposes of rebuilding them, so as to provide the impoverished Namibian child an improved learning environment that is conducive and supports their cognitive development, thereby raising the standard of education in our informal settlements.
This operation is subsisted by a 3-Phased model. Phase 1 is the identification of the structurally dilapidated establishment as explained above. Phase 2 is the provision of knowledge capital. Here we collaborate with multi-stakeholders to provide the school with an accredited, standard teaching curriculum and finally, Phase 3 which focuses on educating the educator, whereby self-taught teachers are exposed to credible training opportunities for the effective undertaking of lessons. Phase 2 and 3 operate in tandem.
We’ve successfully completed the reconstruction of the first school in Havana, Katutura.
What encouraged you to start up an NGO?
In August of 2012, I began volunteering as a Bridging School Teacher at Hope Initiatives Southern Africa, a School and Community centre on the outskirts of Windhoek founded to assist poor communities living in the informal settlements. I was 17 at the time. I worked with children who had never been to school before or have been, but dropped out due to circumstances not of their own.
Following my extensive involvement in these communities and having been directly exposed to the harsh reality of poverty and it’s scaring effects on the child in terms of their educational development, I concluded that there are a plethora of both unmet and under-met educational needs that require urgent intervention. It is chiefly upon this conclusion that Upliftment Projects Namibia came to be, founded as a formal effort towards solidifying a lifelong commitment to the development of my country, to the very extents possible.
Acknowledging that we do not exist in a vacuum nor operate in isolation or ignorance, the establishment of this organization is heavily influenced by the values and objectives and in fulfilmemt of our national goals, NDP 5 & and the HPP as well as those international , SDGs (SDG4 – Quality Education).
What struggles do NGO’s face in Namibia?
Well I cannot speak for all of them, but I’d like to answer this by echoing the sentiments of a renowned economist, Mr Nat Ware, concerning the struggles of NGOs as it is relevant and applicable to our current Namibian setting.
There’s this common perception that charitable work is for overly sensitive, emotionally charged optimists, rather than seeing it as an intellectual endeavor or as establishments that seek to meet the formal government half way, if not work collaboratively to alleviate their load for an accelerated realization of common goals.
In the For-Profit community, failure is not a bad thing, its just part of the process. It just means you’ve experimented, that you where innovative, it means you’re more experienced and more likely to succeed the next time. Unfortunately, we don’t have the same thinking when it comes to NGOs. We expect that our NGOs will always succeed, will always do good, will always have a social impact. Thus as a result of this, NGOs fear failure. They feel they need to play it safe and that they can’t take risks.
But I argue that every NGO playing it safe isnt going to achieve the weight of progress, results and impact that we need. We need NGOs to try things that if they work, will be transformative. The challenge now is to free ourselves from the prison of safety and perfection and subject ourselves to operate guided by the principles of incremental growth.
How can people reach you for donations?
Our official website and pages will be activated shortly. Pending the finalization thereof, I’m reachable on the following digital platforms at any time:
Linked In, Facebook and Instagram, all under the handle “Helena Kandjumbwa”
Words of motivation to the Namibia Nation?
“Truth is, no one cares about what you have to say, they care about what you have to do. Once you’ve done, then they come flooding in like mice, begging for you to have something to say. Its Reverse politics. Complaining about ills prevalent in our societies does nothing but reinforce that they exist. As a painful pragmatist, the importance of action cannot be overemphasized. We miss out on opportunities because they’re dressed in blue overalls. No one ever said it would be easy, but no one ever said it is impossible either, that should serve as your loophole. And as a believer, I strongly encourage that you seek counsel from the Lord and put Him at the centre of your operations.