TSUMEB: Carlos Leonard, a young entrepreneur from Tsumeb, has embarked on a mission to support and educate the local youth through a feeding programme.

The 26-year-old Leonard told Nampa he started the non-profit organisation called ‘Joel Parks’ this year to provide free meals to unemployed youth, including those living on the streets, and to educate them on food production.

He said his team feeds 30 to 50 unemployed youth daily. The meals are followed by a counselling and education session focusing on the importance of basic food production, recycling, and waste management.

‘Education on an empty stomach does not work, so we want to teach them how to produce their own food so that they can sustain themselves throughout their lives. We mentor and coach them so that they can become the best version of themselves,’ he said.

Leonard said his passion is fuelled by the high unemployment rate in Tsumeb, with many graduates and school dropouts finding themselves on the streets. The dropout rate is attributed to
factors like teenage pregnancy and a high failure rate, which in turn contribute to increased crime and substance abuse.

The programme runs from Monday to Friday and relies on donations from various families and companies. In return, supporters receive seedlings and are educated on backyard gardening.

Leonard called on all unemployed individuals in Tsumeb who are passionate about food production to reach out to him so they can benefit from the programme. He also said he is seeking potential sponsors so he can continue feeding the unemployed youth.

Leonard works closely with Corne Thalwitzer.

‘We are trying to make an impact by feeding the youth and cleaning the environment because everybody in this country is focused on making money without focusing on the leaders of tomorrow, who are the youth,’ Thalwitzer said.

He commented that the education system should incorporate different elements to help young people thrive.

‘Our schooling system focuses on teaching our children things that are not going to app
ly in their lives,’ he said.

One of the beneficiaries, Ezekiel Kakuva, a graduate from NIMT, is planning on becoming a farmer as he said he has learned a lot through Joel Parks.

‘I believe in this project because it has a positive impact. Farming is close to my heart so I am going to focus on it because I have been equipped with the skills I needed to start,’ said Kakuva.

Mariam Neibes thanked Leonard and his team for coming up with the programme.

She is currently seeking employment and resides with 16 housemates.

‘I am very pleased with the soup kitchen because it gives us the courage to learn new skills such as seeding, harvesting and how to make compost out of kitchen waste. They also taught me to be strong and proactive so that I can get what I want in life,’ Neibes said.

Neibes plans to apply for a piece of land where she wants to start a garden and grow fruit.

Source: The Namibia Press Agency