BABA Sylla is a Senegalese who was a father to many children – most of whom were orphans he took under his roof.
A young pregnant woman approached him for shelter but he could not help her as he had taken in many children already and in the event he had to turn her away, which haunted him afterwards.
Sylla formed the world organisation Orange Babies as a way of making up for the one woman and child whose lives he could have changed.
The organisation opened its doors in Namibia in 2006 and caters for mothers and children living with HIV and Aids.
Having worked with the organisation for five months, marketing manager and events coordinator Noriene van Wyk has grown to become part of the organisation as it expanded from Windhoek to Okahandja and Rehoboth.
“One challenge Orange Babies has been faced with is the habit people have when they want to help make a difference in someone’s life. They usually say they want to help but never really take the initiative and take the first step toward doing something,” Van Wyk said.
The organisation, according to her, has not been able to expand countrywide since they established it in Namibia because she describes it as a sensitive project that needs local funding and the way things stand the only funding it receives comes from Amsterdam.
“That is why we came up with the project Dinner of Hope, which is a fundraising initiative for anyone who wants to help orphans and mothers and babies living with HIV and Aids.
“We give the host a promotional package with the motto ‘put something nice on the table’ to use during the dinner, like place mats with inspirational quotes that one can dispose of after the dinner.
“If someone wants to host a dinner to raise funds, they cook dinner at their home and ask their guests to bring along a donation which they will then give to Orange Babies.
“Initially, it was an annual event that ran through the month of August but now it runs for an unlimited time,” Van Wyk said.
Her vast interest in events coordination, sales and marketing and community development dates back to the 1980s when she worked as a community developer for the Government.
She was also the national representative for Namibia at the worldwide International Association for Volunteer Efforts (IAVE) organisation.
She worked in Government from 1983 until 1990 and has worked as an insurance broker. She has also worked for the Economist as a sales and marketing manager.
One could say that her place at Orange Babies might also have something to do with her extrovert personality and her unusual taste in decor, fashion and homemade ornaments.
“Everything in my house has a story. I like buying items that have sentimental value to them. I love treasure gifts, no matter how cheap they are. Even if they are wrapped up in a matchbox, I still value them because it is always the thought that counts.
“I also love using my hands. I remember making my daughter a dress for her matric farewell at school because the one she wanted was simply too expensive. When I made that dress, she said it was better than the one she initially wanted.”
Van Wyk has also won many prizes in the ‘white apron’ industry, in cake baking competitions with Bakpro and the sushi chef competition at the Ocean Basket restaurant.
“I have four children. Two boys and two girls, but I would honestly say that I am more career-oriented than a family person, although the relationship I have with my children is special.