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Children need love

Kids playing indoor games at the Benhard Nordkamp Center (BNC)on Saturday. (Photograph by Yvonne Amukwaya)Marybeth Gallagher has only one goal; to assist less-privileged children to improve their grades. Gallagher, who is a qualified teacher and journalist, came to Namibia six years ago from Bangladesh and started an after-school programme called the Bernhard Nordkamp Centre (BNC) in Katutura.
The centre, which is situated right across the People’s Primary School, is an after school project which offers free afternoon classes for learners from grades one to seven.
At first the center had about 385 kids, some of which were not in school and just visited it for free food and games. But after taking a friend’s advice, Gallagher – who was born in the US – made it mandatory for children to be enrolled in school. She was left with 140 children whom she teaches math and English.
Gallagher said that all the children enrolled at her centre are performing very well in school. “Most of these kids could not read and were passing with E symbols but today they can read and they are passing with flying colors,” she said proudly. One of her best learners is Chalton Gawaseb, who was not  enrolled in school before he came to the centre, but is now doing very well in school.
The centre is open to every child and is free of charge. The centre also gives free uniforms and stationery supplies to the children, whom Galagher refers to as “my children” as well as pay a certain percentage of their school fees if the parents can not afford it.
But where does Gallagher get the money to do all this? “ I live off friends and family. I cycle back and forth from the center to my house and the Catholic Church pays for the water and electricity as well as for the security guard,” she said.
The textbooks and other stationery comes from regular donors.
Gallagher further said that although she is in dire need of teachers and volunteers, she will not have her kids beaten, traumatised or threatened, as these individuals believe in respect from fear. She said that in such instances the children will only respect their teachers/elders until they do not fear them anymore.
The centre also offers the children chess classes, cycling and swimming sessions and they also learn   about gardening as they have what they call, a ‘secret garden’, in which they grow vegetables such as cabbage, spinach and broccoli amongst others for their soup kitchen.

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