Namibia: Helping Women Help Themselves


“I SAW women fighting for food… food being distributed. They were from different age groups. Lord! Why do they have to fight for food? Can’t I do something to help these women to help themselves?”

Barbara Gariseb (65), a retired nurse, says she decided to start a community project to help single and underprivileged women in her community of Donkerhoek, after seeing the women fighting for food on television.

Born in South Africa, she moved to Namibia in 1980 after completing her nursing studies. She lost her mother at the age of eight months, which made life very difficult for her.

“It was not easy growing up without a mother,” she says, although finding a way to cope with the loss fuelled her desire to help others.

She was also exposed to different projects which ultimately influenced how she runs the Harambee Sanity Group, started in 2018 to fight poverty. The group helps women help themselves through a collective in which each woman contributes N$100 monthly, and receives food parcels in the second week of December to lighten the financial burden over the festive season.

Gariseb says many of the women are from poor backgrounds and struggle to afford food. She says, however, that if they come together, they can manage to support their families with what they receive from the Harambee Sanity Group.

She encourages all women in Namibia to start saving early and learn how to manage their financial needs.

“I also have a San community food and clothing distribution group, where myself and a group of friends I met in Germany gather funds and make food parcels for this community.