AT 25, Pujatura Kaveterua holds various titles including renowned social activist, Executive Director of Omayambeko Hope Foundation (OHF) and president of African Youth and Adolescents Network (AfriYan). Affe c t ionately known as Puja, the y o u n g mother is also a 2 0 1 5 fellow Mandel a Washington alumni but d e s c r i b e s herself as a hardworking woman committed to the cour s e o f serving the girl child.
In an interview with Confidente recently, Puja says that a statement by American President Barack Obama partly framed the e s t ablishment of OHF, a non-p r o f i t organisation that provides a variety of services for young people aged between 13 and 35 especially those who are experiencing problems related but not limited to accidents, alcohol and drug abuse, crime, corruption, discrimination, HIV/AIDS, immorality, sexual and domestic violence, poverty and unemployment.
The foundation also provides a range of youth specific outreach, treatment, withdrawal, educational, skills development, rehabilitation and empowerment programmes across the country.
Give us a snapshot of who you are?
I’m hardworking and committed to the cause of serving the girl child. My love for social welfare has made me who I am. So who am I; a mother, a sister to many, a community and social activist. But really I’m just a 25-year-old girl born to serve the Namibian nation.
Briefly tell us about your upbringing?
I grew up in Wanaheda, raised by a single mother. Mom played both roles of mom and dad in my life. Watching her break her back to ensure I don’t lack and that I go to school molded me into the strong woman I am today. I think if anything this experience has taught me to serve and care for others before me.
Tell us about the establishment of OHF?
OHF is an NGO that focuses on youth development work. Though we were registered only in 2015 our work dates back to 2013. For me personally OHF has become a platform to serve the young people of Namibia. There was need to work with young people in hard to reach areas that don’t normally benefit from generic programming this prompted the establishment of OHF.
What are challenges and opportunities facing OHF?
We have been very fortunate to have our biggest project funded locally by Skorpion Zinc. This really allows for smooth implementation. Also because we have a unique and underserved target audience there is a general interest to work with OHF from different stakeholders. Challenges like any NGO I think it’s still getting commitment from our beneficiaries and more donors to come on board and ensure we reach more young folks.
What social ills affecting the youth is OHF tackling?
Drug and alcohol abuse, teenage pregnancy, violence against children and exploitation.
Looking back, what memories of OHF work do you cherish most?
The positive impact our southern programme has on beneficiaries is for me knowing that a 17-year-old has stopped using drugs because of an OHF intervention puts a smile on my face. One other would be when we pulled off a feeding programme in rural Windhoek which saw over 3 000 people benefit. I will never forget the look on the faces of the people, a look of hope. It touched me and changed my perception on life in general.
Tell us about your involvement at AfriYan Namibia?
AFRIYAN is a network of youth serving organisations and I seat as the president, my role is to co-ordinate activities within the network mainly sexual reproductive health and rights which I believe has been overlooked in Namibia over the years.
As a former Mandela Washington Fellow, what have you learned that you wish to impart to youth, fellow women?
The biggest lesson would be servant leadership. I always say to myself “Puja you have not lived until you help someone else live.” The fellowship instilled the value of servant leadership that we only become leaders when we serve others. I also took back a very deep statement from my meeting with President Barack Obama he said, “Until we have taken care of the most vulnerable people in our communities we cannot say we are developing” and that was a statement that in a way framed the establishment of OHF.
What don’t people know about you?
I am very shy and love my little spaces to be weird in.
Just what do you do for a little fun?
I write, I love to write about any and everything. Occasionally I meet with my friends for a soul conversation and some poetry.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015