Lily Greene hopes to have 800 or so fidget spinners for her “brothers and sisters” at Home of Good Hope in Namibia this Christmas.
It started small when her grandmother took the Salt Spring Island youth to Oak Bay Marina for lunch. In a moment of spontaneity, Lily hit up the waiter for a donation to buy fidget spinners for the young people overseas. She scored $5. Then they headed for the bank, where she gathered another $50.
“She’s had a lot of health complications and I think it’s made her empathetic and resilient,” says her grandmother Eileen Greene of Oak Bay.
Eileen is the source of the ‘siblings’ overseas; they’re part of her soup kitchen Home of Good Hope, that celebrated a decade at work this year.
Eileen, a Canadian nurse, and Monica Imanga met and became friends at Katutura Hospital while Eileen cared for Monica’s daughter Maria, then 16, who died of AIDS. In 2007 they started a soup kitchen in memory of Maria and called it The Home of Good Hope.
“I started with 40 children, to honour Maria when she died,” Eileen says. “It was the height of the AIDS epidemic. Everyone thin that hospital was 25 and they were all going to die. It was devastating.”
Home of Good Hope began providing food for about 40 children who were HIV-positive. Eileen personally provided the funding and Monica did the cooking then took the food by taxi to nearby Katutura, a poverty-stricken township where many of the children lived. Food was doled out as the children squatted on the side of the road. They expanded to include more children, and buying school uniforms so kids could get an education.
The program grew from 40 kids to 800 over the decade and now they look to expand further, seeking to buy land or relocate to a building. Medical professionals routinely visit, donating services and kids thrive beyond the soup kitchen.
“You can see the success,” Eileen says. “They were playing with plastic bags when I first went there.”
The children did not even have shoes 10 years ago, she says. Recently, a member of the HOGH netball team was chosen by China and a member of the boys soccer team was chosen to develop and play in France. The Home of Good Hope soccer team finished third in the U/17 Khomas Youth League 2017.
There are no “danger zone” children like when she first went, and Eileen she still works hours in a day on the project, contacting the many Victoria-area donors and those overseas, continuing to provide administration herself.
“You can’t stop feeding kids. Who would ever let a child starve to death? I could never let that happen,” she says. “Once you start feeding children you can’t stop. You have to think of a legacy plan.”
That’s a phase the International Human Rights Award winner is in right now. The plan is to move to a new kitchen in January. This new site is close to the current soup kitchen and rent is reasonable. The organization recently made some strong political contacts they hope will favour purchasing land in a bid to build three shipping containers into usable space for the children.
During her visit in September, to celebrate the 10th anniversary, they threw a party the likes of which the kids had never seen. Graduates returned, parents came, there was a band and a chore and 500 goody bags. The event that was covered by media in Namibia as well as attracting international attention.
Visit homeofgoodhope.ngo for more information.
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