Inspired by the need to empower women, 46-year-old Josephine Ndara took it upon herself to uplift women in her community by establishing Women Embracing Change Namibia (WECN),
a non-profit founded in 2016 with the primary objective to improve the social and economic status of abused women.
The organization not only uplifts women emotionally through counseling, but also provides skills training to improve their living standards.
WECN members travel mainly to rural areas to listen to problems that women face and then try and change their circumstances by helping them create small projects or businesses that can assist them with generating an income.
“I have been doing community work for the past 10 years, and as I was doing this, I saw how our women were suffering. Most of those who came to me had almost the same complaint about abuse. This gave me the courage to come up with a group called, Women Embracing Change,” she said.
After realizing the plight of women in communities, Ndara established a WhatsApp group which was to be the tool of communication between women from different walks of life.
In an instant, the group grew and women from different parts of the country exchanged ideas and gave each other hope through discussions, prayers and meetings.
“I created a WhatsApp group so our members and others who support our work could discuss ideas about improving the life of women. It is important to encourage abused women and children to stand up for themselves and work hard to achieve their dreams and goals. I realized that the demand was high for this kind of support system when different women would call or come see me about the problems that they were going through,” Ndara said.
She said she found herself counseling and motivating women, two things that have always been very close to her heart.
“I would talk to people in need and counsel them. That is how I started.”
The women that she spoke to mainly complained about neglect from their husbands as they were left with no support to run the household and manage the various challenges they faced, while single mothers complained about not getting maintenance from the fathers of their children.
“95 percent of women have the same problems and this gave me courage to start this organization. The problems that women face contribute to suicide in our community because women are sitting with their problems with no one to approach,” she said.
A business woman in her own right, Ndara decided to not only provide counselling, but to also assist women start their own small businesses.
“We visit rural areas to help those who need to start a business. We have departments dealing with different areas such as counselling, business, leadership and networking. We have women who specialize in different fields,” she said.
To be part of WECN, individuals complete application forms and pay a membership fee of N$200.
Currently, the group has over 200 members.
“The main point is to look after ourselves as women and motivate each other to get involved in business while empowering ourselves,” she said.
Going forward, the group hopes to eventually establish a cooperative fund in which women could contribute monthly while the money will be diverted to different projects.
“It is time for the world to recognize women in every area which includes, fishing, agriculture, mines, energy,” she said.
Ndara runs an airport shuttle business and her charity organization called Immanuel Foundation Namibia that looks after the needy and less privileged.
“I am someone who has sleepless nights when I see people suffer. I don’t want to see people begging and eating from dust bins. It breaks and touches my heart so much which is what motivated me to start with the charity.
“Every day while travelling or coming from home, I will always have food in the car which I give to people who are begging. I started doing this alone with no help from anyone.
“Every Wednesday I go to Okahandja to the trash and garbage dump sites and give food to those kids living there. You find women, men and children busy scrounging for food at that dump site so we try and provide food for them. We also have a team in towns such as Rundu where we provide food for the needy. I am known as the mother of the nation all around because of my work,” Ndara said.
At the moment, the group does not receive any funding from government or donors. The little that the members contribute towards assisting small businesses comes from their own pockets.
“I would like to encourage government to work with us and involve us because we believe if we leave it for government alone they will not manage; but when we hold hands and work as a team we will make it possible,” she said.