Juanita grew up surrounded by poverty, drugs, alcohol, and hopelessness. Living in the densely packed Okangwena shantytown in northern Namibia, a community rife with crime and prostitution, Juanita’s mother barely earned enough for the family to survive.
Despite regular employment as a health assistant at a local clinic, Juanita’s mother struggled to keep up with the school fees for Juanita and her four sisters. “Many times my mother opted not to pay the utility bills so she could save money for our school needs. But despite the hardships, my mother continually encouraged us to study hard, and to choose the right friends.”
Juanita is bold, resilient, and focused. All traits that she learned from her mother, who she says “taught us to deal with difficulties and challenges.” Against the odds, Juanita managed to graduate from high school and qualify for college. But just as she set her sights on becoming an electrical engineer, she discovered the tuition was too much for her family to afford.
Suddenly it seemed like all the things her mother had told her were wrong. All the hard work, the sacrifice, and the determination would end up in nothing. Like many young women unable to pay for additional schooling, Juanita was considering a job as a domestic worker.
Instead of moving on to higher-level math classes or studying physics, Juanita would be preparing meals and scrubbing floors, her prospects of fulfilling her dream slowly washing away.
After two months of desperately trying to find a way to afford school, she found SOS Children’s Villages and was selected as a potential scholarship recipient. As Juanita puts it, “I joyfully accepted a half-scholarship to join a local vocational training center to pursue the career of my dreams… electrical engineering! They also provided me with a tool set containing various gadgets for my work and safety clothes.”
Thanks to you, Juanita was able to continue with school and get her certificate in electrical engineering.
Juanita and her mother signed an agreement that they would raise the funds to cover the other half of the tuition. Along with the scholarship, Juanita also gained access to the SOS Social Center computer lab to help her complete her schoolwork and develop the skills she needs for the modern-day workforce.
“I have already completed my certificate course and recently embarked on a two-year diploma!” Juanita reports. “I expect to graduate in early 2019. It will be easy to find a job after graduation because my diploma and my internship will show my advanced skills and experience.”
Your empowerment of youth in Namibia and elsewhere ensures that tremendous talent like Juanita’s is not wasted. Thanks to you, Juanita will not only graduate with marketable job skills and be able to help provide for her family—she will also serve as an incredible role model for girls in her community to pursue their own dreams.
Youth Empowerment Programs
Developing well-rounded and self-sufficient young adults, no matter their starting point in life, through education, employability and empowerment.