A helping hand in the community

Young and ambitious Martha

23 February 2021 | Youth

Pull quote: “When my mother’s business was negatively affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, being the eldest of my siblings meant that I had to step up to assist at home.”

Wetumwene Shikage

Martha Festus is a young Namibian who has visions to see the rest of the Namibian youth excel and develop into great leaders someday. Festus is 20 years old. She attended primary school at Havana Primary School in 2007 and high school at Academia Secondary School and Havana Project School in Windhoek.

Her passion is helping those who face similar challenges as she did. Festus says that since birth, she has witnessed her peers suffer and endure the hardship of living in an unstable and disturbed life. She then decided to act rather than see the conditions worsen around her. She started a business, Kasi Fruits ‘n Veggies, to offer them the little she could make. Festus believes that charity is indeed a blessing in disguise which gives great peace of mind and teaches you to become an influential leader in society.

When the Covid-19 pandemic broke out, Festus’s mother was negatively affected. Her mother was a street vendor and she was the provider for all her children at home. Festus saw how things were going to change. She decided to lend a helping hand to maintain a good condition at home. She started Kasi Fruits ‘n Veggies to make some money while delivering fresh produce to the community at low cost. Festus does not employ anyone but she says she has a supportive group of friends and siblings who help her when working on projects around her community.

Being in charge and spearheading the business has served up many lessons for her. “It teaches me to be even more independent, responsible and solve all kinds of problems seen as hurdles. As I am reminded of my background, my motivation is increase to work for a greater future by working on it at the present time. The sky is not the limit. If you can dream it, you can surely achieve it,” she says.

Festus says she gains most of her motivation and support from her mother, who she considers her backbone. This keeps her focused and encouraged to keep working. Her mother has also financially assisted her in all endeavours.

She has also embarked on community service by helping feed about 200 less fortunate children in the informal settlements on Saturdays.

“The reason why I only do it on Saturdays is because I have to spend the money I make from my source of income, my business Kasi Fruits ‘n Veggies. I do not have permanent sponsors who help me out and that alone is a challenge.”

Festus says she faces many challenges, the biggest of which is running out of food for the children at the soup kitchen. When there is no food, there is no soup kitchen.

“Running out of food is not the only challenge I face. The place I use is too small and it cannot accommodate more than 200 children. It is not so safe because it is not fenced with a yard and is very close to the road, which can be dangerous for the children. The children are forced to sit on the ground, because we do not have kiddies’ chairs and tables.

“The other challenge is the fact that the organisation is not yet registered as a charity so it is difficult to get donations. These assist us and the children so much because we then have enough food to give to the children.”

Additionally, Festus runs a project called #keepagirlinschoolnam. This project aims to keep girls in school when they are menstruating. A lack of sanitary products has become a hindrance for girls to attend school. Donating these sanitary products allows the learners to attend school. Donations are collected and then distributed to schools.

“When we hold our school sessions, we always tell the girls that they should consider us as their sisters,” Festus says.

This is how Festus and her team foster a comfortable environment to speak with each girl in order to better understand their needs.

Some of the schools that have received donations of sanitary pads are Havana Project School, Khomastura High School, Hage Geingob High School, Immanuel Shifidi Secondary School and A Shipena Secondary School.

8 Facts about Festus

1. She is the eldest of her siblings.

2. She loves to read.

3. Festus enjoys travelling.

4. In her free time, she takes walks.

5. She enjoys working out.

6. Being generally active keeps Festus on her toes to accomplish her goals.

7. She likes to meet and associate with new people.

8. She loves to cook.