SOS Children's Village Ondangwa

Children waving from a play structure in Ondangwa, NamibiaIn the nineteen seventies and eighties Namibia became a "safe haven" for war refugees from neighbouring Angola.

This development resulted in an increasing number of orphaned and neglected children and thus, SOS-Kinderdorf International decided to become active in Namibia in 1982.

In 1984, construction work on the first SOS Children's Village in Windhoek, the country's capital, started and in 1985, the first children moved in.

In subsequent years, an SOS Kindergarten (1985), an SOS Hermann Gmeiner Primary School (1986) and an SOS Youth Facility (1989) were added to the SOS Children's Village Windhoek. In 1996, the construction of the second Namibian SOS Children's Village in Tsumeb started about one year later, the first six families moved into the newly built family houses.

An SOS Kindergarten was also opened in 1997 and four additional family houses were added in 1999, followed by an SOS Youth Facility in 2003. The third SOS Children's Village in Namibia, in Ondangwa, which also includes an SOS Kindergarten, became operational in autumn 2008. Three family strengthening programmes were set up to respond to the orphan crisis, that sub-Saharan Africa is currently facing due to the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

These programmes offer support to families who are at risk of abandoning their children and enable children to grow within a caring family environment. Together with local authorities and other service providers, SOS Children’s Villages supports families and helps them to take good care of their children.

Ondangwa, situated in the north of the country only about 80 km from the Angolan border, is one of the three most important cities of the Oshana Region. Ondangwa means "the end of the Ondonga area", one of the former kingdoms of the area.

The location was chosen because a survey had indicated a big need for children's care and development facilities in northern Namibia. The municipality of Ondangwa donated a suitable plot of land for the erection of an SOS Children's Village on the outskirts of town, in a newly developed, middle-class residential area. Its architecture reflects the "Solid, Modest and Integrated" approach:

The family houses resemble the local building style and fit seamlessly into the neighbourhood.

SOS Children's Village Ondangwa consists of twelve family houses with a capacity for up to 120 children, houses for the village director and the SOS aunts (who support the SOS mothers and take care of the children when the mothers are on leave) and an administration area.

The SOS Kindergarten offers enough space for up to 75 children both from the SOS Children's Village and the surrounding community and comprises three classrooms.

It greatly supports the integration of the children from the SOS Children's Village into the community and plays a vital role by offering early childhood development education to the most needy children. A family strengthening programme was established in a nearby disadvantaged community.

It offers access to essential services for children’s development (eg. educational, nutritional and health support, social skills) and supports families to protect and care for their children. The programme also aims at linking families with income generating activities and offers help to improve the parents’ parenting skills.