Celebrating 20 years of empowering Mondesa’s youth

LUNCH … Pupils come to MYO after school, where they are offered a daily lunch. Photos: Contributed

This year, Mondesa Youth Opportunities (MYO), an afternoon education programme for promising students from less privileged backgrounds at Swakopmund, is celebrating its 20th anniversary.

Over the past two decades, MYO has worked with approximately 2 000 students, providing five years of focused education to each one.

The project was founded in 2003 when volunteers from American World Teach realised that too many young scholars were idle in the afternoons, with no activities to motivate and extend them.

A sport programme was developed, initially focusing on jogging and exercise, then tennis and literacy classes, called MYO, general manager Anke Husemeyer says.

The MYO board soon realised that the afternoon hours should be used for a more focused education approach, concentrating on teaching English and mathematics.

“Our mission and vision is to educate and motivate promising pupils to ensure they have the ability to succeed in life,” Husemeyer says.

Despite the challenges, MYO has prevailed.

“We do not charge our students at all, as they are carefully selected from the underprivileged community,” she says.

MYO has an agreement with the education directorate and is well recognised for its work and results.

“Our greatest success is that no student who has attended MYO has failed the final examination in the subjects we cover,” Husemeyer says.

“Many of our past students are in leading business positions nationwide – some in Europe and America.”

“MYO teaches reading over all five of the years we offer and we know this is part of our success plan,” she says.

She expresses sympathy with mainstream teachers due to their challenges.

Students attend MYO after school, where they are offered a daily lunch, Husemeyer says.

“We believe a hungry child cannot be properly educated,” she says.

In addition to English and mathematics, MYO offers reading, computer classes, life skills classes, a library, music and sport.

MYO is funded by different local entities and also receives support from overseas organisations and Rotary International in Germany.

Despite the generous support, funding remains a constant struggle, Husemeyer says.

She says facilities like MYO should be available at every town.

“Well-educated Namibians are an asset to the future of our country,” she says.

In addition to academic support, MYO also addresses the holistic needs of its students.

“If possible we help with medical issues, school uniforms, social problems and any other aspect of our students’ general well-being,” Husemeyer says.

MYO life skills teacher Fulvia Maketo says the community has come to love the project due to its constructive impact, especially on the children.

“It has helped the children, now pupils, to stay off the streets and instead to learn some math, English and life skills,” she says.

“These are foundational necessities that will go a long way.”

Maketo says her career at MYO has been filled with “good years”.

“It has taught me to grow and forge good relationships with the pupils. I love being around them – the bond is very strong. MYO has given me the opportunity to make a positive difference in their lives.”

Shoombe Shanyengana, a Grade 8 pupil at MYO who has been with the organisation since 2020, says: “Not only does it help with your education, but it also helps build your character.

“I used to stay at home, watch TV and do anything but read my books. However, when my mom suggested I start coming here, and my teachers also convinced me of its benefits, I listened.

“My marks have significantly improved, and I’ve learnt self-worth. I also became the head boy last year and have been achieving higher grades ever since,” he says.

Shanyengana says MYO provides children with a better education for free.

“MYO is a very good place for me and for everyone else who is here,” he says.

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