Teaching disadvantaged teenagers valuable life lessons
Windhoek, November 7, 2017: This year Wilderness Therapy Namibia is celebrating ten years of successfully equipping underprivileged teenagers with valuable life skills and coping mechanisms.
“Despite major financial challenges the programme has survived year after year,” says Lynette Strijbis, chairperson of the Wilderness Therapy Namibia (WTN) board. The program was initiated as an adventurous and alternative way to address the needs of the at-risk-youth. It aims to help learners rise above their difficulties and unfortunate circumstances and bring them to a point where they find courage, believe in themselves and contribute as productive adults to a better society. Wilderness Therapy is an international method that has been adapted and used in combination with different elements unique to Namibia.
During the past year, many impactful activities took place such as hosting a career week, conducting an educational tour to South Africa, implementing four community projects, hosting two parental guidance seminars with professional facilitators and mentoring nine youth groups. To contribute to their communities, the participants chose to clean the Angra Paquena School, as well as the old-aged homes in Rehoboth and Keetmanshoop. Sixty-six primary school children helped with the cleaning task at Keetmanshoop. At the St Mary’s Hospital in Rehoboth, the teenagers did a few small chores for patients.
“The Wilderness Therapy programme helps young people understand who they are. Going on hiking trails separates the teenagers from the world known to them. We see this as the cleansing phase,” explains Pikkie Hoffman, administrator at WTN. During the transition period, participants are confronted with themselves. “The hikers reflect on who they are, what happened to them, their behaviour and how it all affected them and others. Teenagers make life-changing decisions, let go of the past and destructive behaviour, and change for the better,” says Hoffman.
Mentorship sessions start immediately after the hikes. The mentorship part of the programme takes between 12 and 18 months to full completion. “Mentorship is imperative because it supports and guides teenagers to persist with the life-changing decisions they made during the hike.”
“The board would like to thank all the individuals who contributed time, skills and funds to make the programme a success during the past ten years. Be it as facilitators walking the 120 km with the teenagers, volunteers preparing food, professionals providing expertise, mentors who care, sponsors of food and snacks and t-shirts. Thank you to those who are giving discounts on accommodation, making donations or praying for us. Your contributions to the growth and development of our youth is of invaluable measure,” says Strijbis.
The organisation’s vision is to empower the youth to restore hope, peace, joy and purpose in the lives of youngsters so that they may become responsible people. During 2017 four groups of boys from Augustineum Secondary School, Ella du Plessis Secondary School, (both in Windhoek), Suiderlig (Keetmanshoop), Rehoboth High School and one group of girls from Augustineum Secondary School Windhoek, hiked the Naukluft, Kuiseb and Fish River, respectively.
For more information on how you can contribute to the programme, please don’t hesitate to contact the WTN office at 061 374363/4 or firstname.lastname@example.org