UNAM Cares initiative makes a difference

Over the last year, the University of Namibia has been on a moral campaign to reach out and make a difference in the lives of ordinary Namibians. UNAM’s philanthropy was previously dominated by students, but the Vice Chancellor, Professor Kenneth Matengu, wanted greater reach. Hence, the establishment of UNAM Cares – a philanthropic initiative meant to assist all communities that UNAM is able to reach.

It began with the outbreak of Hepatitis-E in 2018, which wreaked havoc among informal settlements across the country. Through an initiative with a partner, Cardiff University, under the Phoenix project, UNAM undertook social science research to determine people’s understanding of how to combat the disease. Students from UNAM’s Visual and Performing Arts department also curated unique content to get people’s attention, including a comic book to educate school children.

It was not long after that, that UNAM realised that despite the knowledge and awareness people were receiving, some could simply not afford to buy soap; a key ingredient to defend against Hep-E transmission. UNAM and Cardiff University immediately mobilised and secured over 2000 bars of soap, which were handed-over to severely affected communities. The soap bars were well received by community leaders. Meanwhile, UNAM was developing a great thirst to do good deeds outside of academia. Various drives have since taken place each month, relying mainly on UNAM’s large community of 2200 employees and over 30 000 students countrywide.

Still under the umbrella body, UNAM Cares, the University was able to donate 450 mattresses and several brooms to the Ministry of Health and Social Services.  The mattresses would find their way to lodging facilities where the homeless were being sheltered amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Most recently, the University of Namibia donated soap and blankets to the Ministry of Health and Social Services. The items were allocated towards various shelters.

 “It is a time where we must all do the little that we can to save lives and protect each other” remarked Professor Kenneth Matengu, the UNAM Vice Chancellor, during the latest handover on April 21.

UNAM Cares has received tremendous support from the Phoenix project, under the leadership of Professor Judith Hall, from Cardiff University.

UNAM Social Work professional and leader of the UNAM Cares Initiative, Dr Rachel Freeman, said that “No matter how big, or how small, UNAM Cares is committed to using UNAM’s strong network of like-minded people, to make a difference in our communities”.