NGSIP MEDIA RELEASE
There is a buzz of excitement accompanying the Leonardville Village Council’s official opening of a Namibian-German Special Initiative (NGSIP) funded Multi-purpose Cultural Center and Camp Site at the entrance to the sleepy village. The Multi-purpose Cultural Center and Camp Site, which is expected to create much needed employment and ignite efforts to develop community tourism, have been wholeheartedly welcomed by Rudolf Shomongula, Leonardville Village Council Chairperson. “As chairperson, I see this center as an exciting development for the community of Leonardville as it will create much needed employment and attract tourists to our village,” he said in an interview.
The NGSIP in partnership with the Village Council and a local Multi-purpose Cultural Center Committee constructed the Leonardville Multi-Purpose Cultural Center and Camp Site at an estimated cost of some N$3 million.
“The center must reflect our culture which has overcome centuries of adversity. It must reflect our resilience. It must reflect our boldness to stand up for ourselves. It must be as attractive as the people of Leonardville, who have built an enviable reputation. This building must be a beacon of hope to all those who will seek comfort in its halls and future development projects. It must be a hall to institutionalize our trailblazers,” he said. The Leonardville Multi-purpose Cultural Center and Camp Site aims to bring cultural and social activities closer to the community, he said.
Leonardville is situated in the Aminuis Constituency in the Omaheke Region. This poverty-stricken village is a ward in the Aminuis electoral constituency, with a high rate of unemployment. There are no recreational facilities there, except the sports ground, and this has resulted in cases of substance abuse within the community.
According to Shomongula the only places, creating employment at the village is the Village Council, the Kalahari Weavers and its only one stop fuel service station and a shopping center. “Therefore the opening of this center is like throwing a diamond to the community as it will create hope for future development,” he added. The need for the multi-purpose center at Leonardville was identified and requested by the community in a project proposal submitted to the NGSIP for funding, according to Shomongula. He said that the Village Council in collaboration with the local Leonardville Multi-purpose Cultural Center realised that a multi-purpose center was a necessity in the community to assist in luring children away from crimes on the streets, reducing substance abuse in the community, especially among the youth and also in creating employment and serving the community at large by offering various activities that they can engage in.
Shomongula said the Development Committee resolved that the Village Council would take ownership of the Center as it has the means to maintain it, especially after the NGSIP programme officially handed it over.
NGSIP has invested a total N$3,466,225 in the construction of the multi-purpose center. The center aims at providing accessible facilities to cater for a wide variety of community needs, including strengthening cultural and social activities at the village.
He said that the center created much-need employment for local labourers and businesses during its construction, adding that plans are also afoot for other developments and tourist attraction sites such as a mini wildlife resort at the exit of the village. “To sustain the further development of this center, we want to bring in some little number of wildlife, especially as you are exiting the town in order to lure tourists and visitors to stay over and camp or use facilities such as internet or be entertained by cultural activities,” he added. He said that the Government could also consider lending a helping hand by providing transport, which the center could use for tourist sightseeing tours to neighbouring farms where there is a great variety of wildlife.
“Community will enter into discussions with these farmers to allow such visits to take place as part of the center’s activities,” he explained. Government workers, who frequent the village, could also be encouraged to use the center for accommodation and conferences or seminars because of the tranquillity that it provides away from hustles and bustles of city or town life.
According to the Multi-purpose Center chairperson, Veronica Nunuhes the facility will serve as a medium to provide much needed services to the community, through its outreach programmes, and also to act as a resource center for the community in an effort to further push its development agenda. She said despite an increase in the number of stop-over tourists, who have been passing through the village and Government workers who frequent the area, the lack of accommodation there has been a serious drawback, and therefore the multi-purpose center which has the potential to attract tourists and Government workers to sleep over or hire camping sites could fill that void.
The center, which will also be used for computer training and advisory services, will offer a soup kitchen where workers will further render a variety of services to the community.
It will also provide recreational facilities to children, while at the same time offering local women a convenient venue to sell their hand-made articles to tourists. She, however, said that most of the planned projects at the center were cancelled because of a lack of funds as the first contractor failed to deliver as per the original plan that included workshops for artisans and to install interlocks on the entire premises. “Therefore we were forced to remove or cancelled planned activities at the center,” she said. As she herself has some skills and training in needle work, Nunuhes intents setting up a needlework department or a training unit for women at the center with the main objective of participating at trade fairs nationally.
She also shared the views that the envisaged completion of the Multi-purpose Cultural Center and Camp Site has the potential to attract investment for development and tourists in order to create employment for this poverty stricken community.
A community member, Wilhemina Witbooi welcomed the facility’s establishment, saying it will not only encourage more young people to participate in its activities, but will also allow them to engage in recreational activities, away from the streets. “This is an excellent example of the type of partnership for development that we need at this village. The impact and value of this center to fighting unemployment and to creating a positive shift in the social norms is just enormous,” stressed Witbooi, who is also a community activist. She also used the opportunity to express gratitude to the NGSIP for the support, saying the center has the potential to attract investors and tourists to Leonardville thereby creating employment for the community. She said the proceeds from the center will also support OVC and ARV programmes as well as the elderly and other community related projects. “That way we will also plough back into the community,” she said.
Witbooi revealed that the Community development Committee has also resolved to expand the center as per the original plan to six accommodation facilities in the future by mobilising own funds. NGSIP only approve to accommodation facilities. According to her rampant unemployment and hopelessness are the order of the day at the border village of Leonardville, but all this could soon change for the better when the Multi-purpose Cultural Center and Camp Site center officially opens its doors to the public at the end of this month.
One of the initiators of the project and project animator, Tobias Kamberipa said that the main objective of the center was self-sustenance. He said that apart from the center, the NGSIP has also given livestock to the community, but the animals were badly affected by the drought and died. As an alternative, the community opted for this Multi-Purpose center as there is a strong demand for overnight facility to accommodate visitors who have nowhere else to sleep, but the location.
“Through this center we are going to get our people to have access to the internet, recreational facilities, accommodation for both local visitors and tourists, where community members will be able to develop themselves, that will enable us to be a part of this global village, that sees information [not only] as a valuable tool for learning, but also as a tool for earning a meaningful living,” she stressed.
According to the contractor, the construction has been completed and the center will soon be handed over to the community at an official opening ceremony.