THE Committee that administers the Convention on the Rights of the Child once recommended that Namibia establish an office or commissioner responsible for children’s rights. It is thus official, the country now has a Children’s Advocate and her name is Ingrid Cupido. She has passion for children’s rights and youth affairs. She is also passionate about and committed to social justice and will in the future work closely with the Ministries of Gender Equality and Child Welfare and Health as well as the police. Her aim is to make Namibia a better and safer place for its children.
Cupido tells Confidènte about her role, her plans and how in her spare time she enjoys barbecues with her family and friends.
Give us a snapshot of who you are?
I firmly believe that God has placed us all on this earth for a purpose – a purpose to be happy and to find joy in life and no one should steal that away from you. I therefore constantly remind myself to stay true to myself and if and when I am not comfortable within a particular situation then I act upon it and change it so that I am comfortable . A wise man once said, “We only have this one life to live and therefore we should live it to the fullest” and that is how I live my life.
Briefly tell us about your upbringing?
I am a girl from Spokiesdorp, Khomasdal (Windhoek), where I was raised in a very loving home, a big family, where everyone looked after one another. I went to St. Andrew’s Primary School where I was taught by very strict teachers who never hesitated to give proper direction. I fondly think about Mrs Henckert, Mrs Beukes and the late Mr Jooste; teachers who really made a significant impact on my life.
At a very young age I made a decision that one day I want to go and study and become someone who could make a difference in the lives of others and that is why I decided to go and study law and now I am here, a lawyer trying to change the world for our children. I do believe that my upbringing played a role in who I am today – my parents always telling me that I can be anything I want to be , and I should always do the best I can .
You were appointed as Children’s Advocate in the Ombudsman’s office, how did that come about?
I saw the advertisement and it immediately appealed to me – that this is a chance to make a difference. I am very excited about the programmes that we want to implement, but also excited because there is so much that was already done towards changing the environment for our children.
What does a Children’s Advocate do?
The Office was primarily established to be the voice for the voiceless and the vulnerable who are exposed to different challenges and only need that one person to speak out for them and make the situation different. The Children’s Advocate will work in close association with the current branches of government i.e. the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare, the Ministry of Health, the police and we still intend to establish stronger relations with other stakeholders that play a role in ensuring that children’s rights are enforced and protected.
What are you hoping to achieve in your position in terms of children’s rights?
The ultimate goal of the office is to ensure that children feel safe, loved, cared for, respected, and that Namibia is a good place to live in. The road will obviously not be easy, but I have experienced so much compassion for children’s issues from so many people that I have met over the past three months and therefore I am optimistic that we can bring about change. I must also acknowledge the role that my colleagues will play in our endeavour to fulfil our mandate, for I am not alone, and I believe that with teamwork where we all work in sync, we can achieve the goals that we have set for the office.
Are we as a country winning against all forms of violence perpetrated on our children? If so, what is the evidence?
At this stage it is difficult to say, because I cannot prove any answer with tangible evidence and thus I would like you to come back to me within a year’s time and ask this question again, then we will be in a position to provide you with more concrete answers.
What is your take on social ills such as baby dumping, rape and murder of children? What can be done to stop these brutal acts?
These are abhorrent acts of violence that cannot be justified in any manner and that is why we need to instil the right values and norms in our children from a very young age. We need to teach our children that in life they have rights but they also have responsibilities and one very important responsibility is to respect one another and to regard life as the greatest gift we could receive. This might seem to be a route that will not address the evils now, but in the end, if we have a nation that shows respect to one another, we will experience little or no violence ; no bullying in schools; respect for one another and consequently no abuse and or violence towards one another. I believe that the ripple effect of this one change could be tremendous.
Would you say Namibia is a broken society hence the many social ills?
No, as a country, I think we are doing very good comparing to other countries on the African continent. I do believe however, that if we take time to prioritise and address the issues that result in us being seen as broken, we can change that perception because we live in a peaceful country where we can exercise so many of our rights without fear.
What has life taught you that you wish to share with other women?
Always be true to yourself and never underestimate your capabilities.
What personal advice do you have for parents on taking care of Namibia’s future generations?
Teach your children to show respect towards others, teach them that integrity is the cornerstone of a solid nation and consequently a life without corruption, but also teach them to care for others and to reach out to those in need. I also want to share the views of Professor Nico Koopman which he shared with our congregation on Sunday evening, May 17 where he said we should build our lives on three pillars of justice, peace and joy for if we do that we will have a nation that is just, have peace and experiences joy.
What is your secret indulgence?
So may at different times – watching the Fixer and associating with Olivia Pope; cooking and trying out new recipes; having a massage; spending time chatting with my husband on our ‘agterstoep’, having a barbecue with my family and teaching them how to dance – these are magical moments.
Just what do you do for a little fun?
I believe that we should create moments that will last forever in the memories of our loved ones and therefore I create opportunities to spend time with my family.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015