AFTER losing her father, elder sister and cousin within a period of eight years, Lorraine Kondombolo (LK) was understandably shifted off balance both emotionally and psychologically as she came to terms with her new reality – living without her loved ones. She eventually gathered the courage to pick up the pieces and recently established Khaitago Communication under which she runs corporate social investment initiatives through her non-governmental organisation that focuses on empowerment and addressing social ills as well as mental health issues. The affable Kondobolo recently caught up with Confidente’s Marianne Nghidengwa (MN) to talk about her personal contribution to issues of mental health.
MN: Briefly tell us about yourself and your upbringing?
LK: I was born in Windhoek, spend most of my childhood in Gobabis with my granny and moved back to Windhoek for school. I grew up as a bit of a tomboy and I was a daddy’s girl. I ran track in primary school and moved to basketball in high school which I played until I was about seven months pregnant with my daughter. I stopped when I started bulging and after that I took up yoga. I don’t do well if I am not physically active which is the case at the moment; I need to get myself back on track.
MN: Tell us about the establishment of Khaitago Communication and services it offers.
LK: Khaitago, which loosely translates to “I have risen or I rise” in my mother tongue Khoekhoegowab, was birthed in January 2018. Although I have been doing work in the creative sphere for years prior to establishing the organisation, the name came about after I did a lot of introspection and was also partly influenced by my visit to Lagos Nigeria in December 2017 where I had the honour of being a guest speaker at the inaugural HER NETWORK WOMAN OF THE YEAR awards. The organiser and founder of the women’s empowerment platform @HerNetwork, Nkem Onwudiwe , was kind enough to take me under her wings and mentor me. Khaitago Communication & Media is a boutique PR and Events Company that helps build brands and businesses passionately through tailored Communications, Events and PR services. Our Corporate Social Investment (CSI)’s focus is mental health and empowerment through creating platforms for information sharing and starting dialogues on issues that are affecting the youth.
MN: Why was it personally important for you to tackle mental health issues?
LK: I lost a very close cousin of mine to cancer in 2016 which shifted me off balance both emotionally and psychologically. This triggered and brought to light a lot of undealt with issues I had in my life going back all the way to losing my father who was basically my anchor, and my elder sister consecutively and many other experiences that had a negative impact on my life which I kind of just ignored. It all affected my physical health and upon seeking medical help I went on a journey of self-discovery. It became palpable to me that I was healing faster when I was reaching out to others and helping people come to terms with themselves. I am passionate about mental health because it is a very misunderstood illness and I believe we need to pay attention to it, especially among young people. The pressure of life in today’s world is very difficult to cope with for many, that is why there is an alarming increase in suicides amongst university and high school students. Contrary to popular belief, mental health is not just about chemical imbalances in the brain; things like depression and acute stress are also part of mental health. Khaitago’s primary CSI focus on empowerment was started to address the importance of self-care, not just physically but mentally and emotionally. I always say that we need to understand and embrace psychologists and psychiatrists because they are there to keep us out of the mental ward. They are there for normal people like you and me who have to navigate through life and all the curve balls it throws at us. Checking in for your mental and emotional health wellbeing is part of self-care and it should become a natural thing.
MN: What are key challenges and opportunities facing the NGO?
LK: Right now we are still at the foundation stage and there is a lot of work to be done. Getting sponsorships and partners on board that will help drive this message is one of the challenges we face. People’s reluctance to participate in our dialogue sessions is also one the challenges the NGO is facing.
MN: What key areas of the NGO are enjoying your attention at the moment?
LK: Right now we are focused on establishing a strong presence with our dialogue platform ‘Wine O’clock’ through which we connect people and provide a safe space to share experiences and address issues concerning them.
MN: What does the NGO’s programme look like before the festive season and what can people expect next year?
LK: Our last programme for the year will be the wine o’clock session in October. For next year we are focusing on bringing to life a gap year programme together with a partner we approached and this is equally vested in empowering and uplifting the youth. We will also collaborate with the Nigerian based @HerNetwork to bring the chats and cocktails platform to our Namibian audience and of course intensify our awareness campaigns on mental health.
MN: What don’t people know about you?
LK: Ha-ha, it’s ironic but I am actually not as much of an extrovert as I appear to be. I am very scared of crowds, have a bit of a social anxiety and always have to be in control of the crowd I find myself in. It’s a weird thing to explain to people how I always find myself on stage or on TV but I cannot handle large crowds without the help of my therapist who is on speed dial.
MN: Just what do you do for a little fun?
LK: Well lately fun for me is catching up on sleep because I have been working on so many different projects at the same time and find myself experiencing fatigue quite often. But I enjoy spending time with my daughter, traveling and experiencing different countries and cultures. I took up yoga a few years ago and enjoy it as well as reading. I still tell myself one day when I grow up I want to have a walk in library in my house instead of a walk in closet. I get joy from helping people so I am always looking out for opportunities to volunteer.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015