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Vancouver schools support orphanage in Namibia

HIV/AIDS has had a devastating effect in Namibia, a country in southern Africa. Thousands of children have been orphaned when both parents have died from AIDS and related diseases.

Three Vancouver schools have offered a helping hand to finding a place for some of these children to grow and learn. They have raised funds to help in the building of the Ufenkenda orphanage in Nkurenkuru, Namibia. This is a small, isolated community located in the “bush” of northern Namibia.

McBride Annex, an elementary school with just over 60 students, has raised over $2,000 to finish construction on the orphanage building. Previously, Kitsilano Secondary and Henderson Elementary raised the funds to purchase land, design a structure, and begin construction.

Don Reader, now a retired Vancouver elementary teacher, has worked in Namibia since 1994 in projects with the Namibia National Teachers’ Union (NANTU) and the BCTF. He saw firsthand the children’s needs when he was conducting union workshops with the teachers in Nkurenkuru. He visited the shed from which the orphanage was working, and met the people who were struggling to support the children.

When he returned to Vancouver, Reader told friends and colleagues about the need and several picked up the project. In particular, Reader credits Nancy Paget, formerly vice-principal of Henderson, and now in that role at McBride Annex, with spearheading the fundraising. She says that the students, teachers, other staff, and parents from the school all contributed to the success of the project.

Reader says, “There are so many needs in our world at present, but it is very rewarding to see this worthy project nearing completion.”

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