Representative of the Ministry of Gender, Education and Child Welfare Ms. Spendu Onesmus,
Members of CAFO, etc.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you for joining us today. We’re all here because we share a common vision – a vision of a Namibia whose people are healthy and productive. We also know that to realize that vision, we must invest in Namibia’s children.
One of the things the U.S. government does in Namibia is work with civil society to empower Namibians to find Namibian solutions to Namibian challenges. American support for civil society in Namibia covers a wide range of activities, from funding large-scale projects managed by well-established NGOs to providing small grants to community-based groups. In doing so, we’ve found that the size of the organization is not what’s important. With a little support, civil society organizations both large and small can make direct and high-impact contributions to their communities.
The Church Alliance for Orphans, known as CAFO, is an excellent example. CAFO works with community-based resources to address the needs of Namibia’s most vulnerable – its children, especially children orphaned or in other ways affected by HIV and AIDS.
The U.S. Government has supported CAFO’s work through PEPFAR and USAID. In 2010, we provided a 2.9-million U.S. dollar grant that was intended to enable CAFO to provide health, education, shelter, counseling and other support to more than 30,000 vulnerable children at existing Early Child Development Centers.
CAFO met that ambitious target and, based on its success, we provided an additional award of a half-million dollars in 2013 through a project implemented by one of our partners in Namibia, Management Sciences for Health, or MSH. The project was part of a broader effort to help build the capacity of local organizations like CAFO to respond to the HIV epidemic in Namibia. We’ve learned that strengthening local organizations like CAFO and teaching them to be independent is vital for the HIV/AIDS response to have an impact and be sustainable.
Under the 2013 grant, MSH worked with CAFO to improve its services and to raise its public profile in order to demonstrate to others what we knew already: that CAFO is worthy of support. As a result, CAFO was able to extend its services to an additional 8,000 children. Just as important, CAFO’s demonstrated success attracted support from other international donors, businesses and local volunteers. I know that some of you are represented here today, and I’d like you to know that we appreciate your participation and support for CAFO. NGOs like CAFO are usually donor-funded to some extent, but the more they can attract a broad base of support, particularly at the local level, the better their chances of sustaining their success.
Namibia’s vulnerable children need assistance, and CAFO provides it. Earlier this morning I had the opportunity to watch CAFO in action. I visited an Early Child Development Center that partners with CAFO here in Katutura. I watched as tiny children proudly demonstrated one of the many things they had learned at the center, something that most Americans learned from our parents – the importance for health of washing your hands! It’s such a simple concept, but without the work of CAFO and its partners, the children I met might never have learned it.
I also saw that the grounds of the facility recently had been cleaned and the buildings brightly painted, using donated material and volunteer labor, including from parents. It shows just how much can be accomplished when community-based organizations work together with the residents of the community. The work of CAFO is an excellent demonstration of a principle that is widely embraced by Americans: that you get more accomplished when you help people help themselves.
I trust that all of you will continue to do just. Congratulations on your fine work, and if I might speak on behalf of the children of Namibia, “We need you, and we thank you, thank you, thank you.”