Visolela Rosa Namises, a national leader, representative of GEN Africa and advocate for women’s rights has been initiating incredible work in Namibia. With the support of River of Life funds in 2020, Visolela was able to work with women from different communities to develop gardens for food security, nutrition and as a way to improve their livelihoods. She conducted 6 workshops and events in the past year, working in 6 villages and 3 schools, reaching over 850 people, including women, youth, elders, as well as men and LGBTIQ members.
Visolela is the National Director of Women’s Solidarity Namibia (WSN), a local organisation founded in 1989 that focuses on increasing the capacity of men, women, and youth to prevent and respond to gender-based violence including harmful cultural practices, and speaking out against violence and discrimination against women and children in communities, schools, and workplaces. In 2020, they provided training to independent women candidates pre and post elections, resulting in more support given to local communities and also participated in the 16 days of Activism for Gender Based Violence, honouring Namibian women on Human Rights Day.
With the support of River of Life in 2016, Visolela was able to establish a community farm, which now serves 26 households, over 30 large families and some elderly people from the neighbourhood. In addition, the farmers in the community were able to increase their income from the sale of crops to the local market and to a nearby ecotourism center. Furthermore, a pond was created to store 120.00 m3 of rainwater that is used during the dry season. Visolela is also currently working with women who manufacture handicrafts and traditional perfume.
In 2020, Visolela conducted a number of workshops with women and youth, as well as men from different villages. She shared that the participants of workshops were able to gain a capacity for self-control and appreciation; experienced a range of emotions as fields of connection and inspired action; had trust and compassion through inner reconciliation and conflict resolution practices; developed relational awareness through the practice of transparent communication; and most of all regained a hope for a future based on renewed sensitivity, joy and mutual care.
During this beautiful journey, I must acknowledge that I met amazingly open and strong women determined women for working together. We were touching deep human issues; archetypes like motherhood, being a daughter, being a woman and lover, we weighed our inner wounded child and found the beauty and strength in it; touching tender this precious moment of our life and finding the impulse for the next step of our individual soul-purpose. We were cooking, eating and singing together to ground what we explored and what we are. I left the villages and homes of the women deeply touched by the love of these women, listening to the echo of our deep connection and the openness to support each other’s soul-journey.
The Ministry of Agriculture in Namibia was also visited on a few occasions and have promised to visit the communities she works with to familiarize themselves with the project and give support to the gardens. The Forestry Department (Okahandja) also invited the gardeners from these communities to a workshop in Otjiwarongo which resulted in a follow up visit to a charcoal making plant. A highlight for these community gardeners was learning how to make organic deterrents for insects.
For Visolela, COVID-19 had a great impact on her work than anticipated, however, she persevered and turned problems into solutions. Due to the fear and panic COVID-19 created, people were confused and reluctant to attend in-person programs. As a response to this, Visolela, held radio programmes once a week in her local language to educate and calm listeners to understand the context better as well as bringing in other relevant topics. Another issue arose during the midst of COVID-19 and the community’s fear for their health. They were also concerned about police raids when they held community meetings about their garden project. As a response, a new idea emerged to drink herbal medicine and participants started to explore herbal plants in their local environment and found many ancient remedies.
Visolela’s story illustrates how the River of Life funds can satisfy important needs on many levels, supporting Visolela’s immediate community, the communities she works with and also in her outreach work to the government and through various media channels. Visolela continues to reach hundreds of people through her dedication and love for the healing of people and nature, very much aligned with GEN’s vision and the ecovillage principles.
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