The COVID-19 crisis has hit all of us hard, but for some, these really are desperate times. Alarmed by the severe economic difficulties that some fellow Namibians are experiencing during the crisis, Shell Upstream Namibia and its JV partners Kosmos Energy (at the time of writing – Kosmos since exited the venture) and NAMCOR have made a disaster relief donation to the charity Orange Babies Namibia Foundation (OBNAM)*. This will provide just under 1 million Namibian Dollars’ worth of emergency food and hygiene parcels to 1500 impoverished orphans, vulnerable children and their families in an informal settlement near Windhoek.

Even before COVID 19, Shell and its partners worked closely with OBNAM. Since 2016, we have proudly sponsored the charity’s pre-school education programme at the Pappa Centre in Otjomuise township. Otjomuise is an economically-depressed area where even in “normal” times, most live in conditions of extreme poverty.

During pre-crisis visits, representatives from Shell, Kosmos and NAMCOR have enjoyed meeting many of the children and others who use the centre and have admired the work carried out there. OBNAM was therefore an obvious choice for our disaster relief donation, given their wealth of experience in running food programmes and their integration in the community. We had every confidence in their ability to deliver the initiative safely and effectively.

Between July and December 2020, Shell, Kosmos and NAMCOR are funding monthly parcels for 300 households that OBNAM has identified as extremely vulnerable. These contain food, protective face coverings and soap bars. The parcels are being distributed according to strict health and safety guidelines, and supplemented with official health advice from the Government in the form of videos, flyers and posters developed by the Ministry of Health in the various local languages. The first distribution and health education sessions took place at the end of June and went extremely well.

Parcels with a personal touch

As well as food and soap, the parcels include a home-made element: the protective face coverings are made by a sewing circle of local people that operates in the centre. When distributing the parcels, staff explain the purpose, use and limitations of the face coverings.

Dennis Zekveld, Shell’s Country Chair in Namibia, reflected: “No one can say how long the crisis will last, but this initiative will greatly help 1500 impoverished Namibians and the wider community to survive it. We are excited to be funding this programme during these most difficult times. It is a real pleasure to work with OBNAM – I see now more than ever what a stand-out charity they are”.

* Orange Babies Foundation Namibia (OBNAM) is a Registered Welfare organisation (WO384).

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