Four years ago, Beata Moses reached a crossroads. With a Grade-10 high school certificate and unemployed, the 20-year-old found herself trying to navigate the demands of being a young, single mother. She and the father of little Tulela had split up during pregnancy, and he provided neither emotional nor financial support for the baby girl.
Adding to her challenges, Beata’s parents passed away while she was still in school, leaving her in the care of her grandmother and namesake, Beata Frans, who is a pensioner. Life in the village, Onangombe, located in Namibia’s largely rural Oshikoto region, has become more and more difficult. From Beata’s perspective, her future and that of her baby looked dire.
“Despite my best efforts to juggle both motherhood and school, I put my education on hold, instead resorting to odd jobs in and around the village, so I could provide for my daughter. While I had dreams of completing high school and even going to university, my decision hinged on survival,” she reveals.
Fortunately for Beata, a casual chat with her neighbor Albertina would turn out to be the decisive incident she longed for. Albertina had participated in the Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-Free, Mentored and Safe (DREAMS) program at the time, a United States Government project run in partnership with national governments and partners that helps young women stay HIV-free. Together with five other friends from her community, Beata embarked on a journey that would pave the way to realizing her lifelong passion – poultry and business.
“I attended an information session at Elombe Clinic to learn more about DREAMS and the opportunities it offers. I was so inspired by the people and the activities that I decided to join the program and fully take charge of my life,” she says emphatically.
The DREAMS program has been active in the Oshikoto Region since 2018. The initiative is funded by the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by ACHIEVE and Project HOPE Namibia.
The program offers health services and skills training that reduce the risk of HIV infection in adolescent girls and young women aged 10-24 years. Participants can also receive HIV prevention education, Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis medication, gender-based violence screening and counselling, as well as courses in financial literacy, vocational, and entrepreneurship training.
In 2020, Beata took a course in poultry farming at the Okashana Rural Development Centre in the Omuthiya district plus a refresher training the following year. Equipped with a business start-up kit – consisting of 100 chicks, materials to construct a chicken coop, bird feeders and drinkers, vaccines, and medication, as well as plenty of feed – Beata made the bold move to start her own poultry business in 2021.
Since then, her chicken farm has continued to flourish. Beata has been able to use her profits to buy more chicks and even diversify her portfolio to include homemade bread, Kapana (grilled meat), fish, and airtime vouchers for mobile phones.
“On average, I sell 4 to 5 chickens every day for N$80 to N$130 depending on the size. Thanks to DREAMS, I now have the knowledge and tools to not only breed chickens but also to successfully manage finances and keep my business profitable,” she says with a proud smile.
With the income that she generates, Beata has gained a new sense of confidence and independence. She is now able to contribute to the household income, support the needs of her four-year-old daughter Tulela, and can even take care of her school-going nephews and nieces. Ultimately, Beata hopes to save up enough money to install electricity at their traditional homestead and to further grow her business. She has also used the information about HIV prevention, in combination with the economic empowerment she has gained, to make choices that benefit her mental, physical, and social wellbeing.
“The impact of DREAMS has been truly life-changing, not just for me but also for my daughter, and I am very grateful for that. This year, I am planning to expand my chicken farm and hire my first employee to help support another young person. It’s time for me to give back to the community.”