The San, a small ethnic group, numbering about 40,000 people in Namibia, are more commonly known as “Bushmen”. Genetically speaking these are the oldest people in the world. One such sub-group, named the Hai||kom (//Kx’au//’en) historically roamed the area in and around the Etosha National Park since time immemorial.
Sadly, about 600 – 800 of these friendly people currently live in conditions of abject poverty, around the small township of Oshivelo in Northern Namibia. They are incredibly poor and it is nearly impossible for them to improve their situation by themselves. It is difficult for them to accept that their traditional way of life is unsustainable and that they must adjust to modern times – embracing the good and the bad of our western lifestyle. In most cases they are keen to progress and to improve their condition but suffer from a serious lack of opportunities. Some way must be found to create opportunities for the Hai||kom to buy and own land on which they can build a house; to receive useful skills training and to secure sustainable jobs in the vicinity.
In order to assist in a way that will maintain their dignity as a people; and with the stress on self-help without hand-outs a Trust, called The Namutoni Hai||om Trust was set up in 2005 with the following main objectives:
• to be the appropriate legal, accounting and responsible body for the projects • to undertake and assist community development and anti-poverty initiatives; • to provide opportunities and assistance, in respect of house ownership, training and sustainable jobs. • to provide and assist with training and support to emerging micro-enterprises within the community; • to promote community –based projects relating to self-empowerment & skills-development. • to promote and assist with family planning, early childhood development and adult education.
It is important to take note that these benefits will not be free and these services will have to be paid for to ensure self-reliance. Each individual will be encouraged to take responsibility for their own improvement and destiny by working together as a community for a better future for themselves and for their children.
The Trust is managed by a board of six trustees of which four are Hai||kom community members with the balance of two being private land owners. These people are not paid for their services and guidance, only their previously agreed to expenses are reimbursed.
Capital projects are currently funded by private loans. In addition, all Onguma Game Reserve and Etosha Aoba lodges raise a levy of N$10.00 per bednight sold to guests and this levy is paid directly into the Trust's bank account on a monthly basis. There is no Government contribution or assistance.
• In 2010, the Trust leased (with an option to purchase) the farm Ondera - 7000 Ha in extent, which will be used to relocate approximately 80 families. These families can buy a one hectare stand at a cost of N$200 per month, payable for a period of 24 months after which the stand belongs to the purchaser. A center pivot irrigation system covering 12 Ha has been installed and the mass production of vegetables has commenced under the supervision of an experienced vegetable farmer and marketer. Presently, this project will create about 60 permanent jobs with a further possible 70 temporary jobs during peak season. All the lodges in the area can be supplied with the bulk of their vegetable requirements from this farm and they have committed to buying from it. The balance of the produce will be sold to the local population and in Angola.
• Should the people individually produce quality vegetables/ or artwork etc. these lodges have committed to buying it from them.
• The Onguma lodges and Etosha Aoba are committed to employing as many of the local Hai||kom people as possible and gives preference to trainee candidates from the community. Close to 48 staff members are presently employed at Onguma and Etosha Aoba from this local Hai||kom community. Training in language skills must be a high priority.
Our guests are invited to partner with us in uplifting our people in tangible ways that leave a lasting legacy, and just by sleeping in an Onguma Game Reserve or Etosha Aoba bed; an automatic contribution has already been made.
For this gesture we thank all our guests - they are making a significant difference.
Additional donations will be gratefully accepted. For more information contact us.