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‘Life-changing’ for learners

4 August 2017

Namibian school pupils outdoors

Cardiff University students will mentor a group of high school children in Namibia during a potentially life-changing two-week camp designed to raise the pupils’ aspirations.

Around 40 pupils from a secondary school in the south of the country have been hand-picked for the intensive ‘UniCamp’ organised by Cardiff University and the University of Namibia (UNAM).

Student ‘ambassadors’ from Cardiff and UNAM will support and mentor the pupils from Monday 21 August 2017 to Friday 1 September 2017.

The Namibian pupils will devise and launch a national public health campaign towards the end of the camp using the skills and knowledge acquired.

Namibian school children clapping

Organisers hope that the experience will be transformative for the Namibian children, with some progressing to university, as well as benefiting the students taking part.

The initiative is part of Cardiff University’s Phoenix Project, a partnership with UNAM to improve health and reduce poverty in Namibia.

An inspirational head teacher

Elizabeth Beukes
JA Nel School head teacher, Elizabeth Beukes

JA Nel School head teacher Elizabeth Beukes said: “Our kids are coming from very poor backgrounds. Sometimes their self-esteem is not there – they don’t know where they are heading to. It’s our duty as a school to try to guide the learners into a direction where they know they are going to have a future.”

Phoenix Project lead Professor Judith Hall said: “Elizabeth Beukes is an inspirational head teacher and, working with her, we hope to make a real difference to how these young people think about their future...”

“We will boost their learning, we will give them confidence and we will give them life skills. It could be life-changing for some of them and that’s very exciting for me.”

Professor Judith Hall Professor of Anaesthetics, Intensive Care and Pain Medicine. Phoenix Project Lead

The learners will work with the student ambassadors and be expected to launch a public heart health campaign for Namibia towards the end of the two weeks.

Cardiff University students outside Main Building

Cardiff University student Amy Daglish, who is studying Medicine, said: “I am really excited to meet the students from UNAM and experience the culture in Namibia. I hope that I can use my medical knowledge to help put together a worthwhile public health campaign, which will make a real difference.”

Shazia Ali, a Cardiff University Journalism student, said: “I'm excited to be experiencing the diverse Namibian culture, and creating a PR campaign with young students. I'm looking forward to discovering how the engagement will impact them as well as myself.”

Improve health and reduce poverty

Professor Kenneth Matengu, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Research, Innovation and Development, UNAM, said:  “Anecdotal evidence suggests that non-communicable diseases including heart disease and problems such as high blood pressure and diabetes are increasing rapidly in Namibia. They cause disability, death and affect social and economic aspects of many Namibians. This initiative is meant to raise awareness to ensure that young people understand how to prevent them happening to the current and future generations.”

Namibia’s Deputy Minister of Health Hon Julieta Kavetuna said: “Heart disease will be a major public health issue for our country in the future.  I am delighted to see the young people of Namibia, both students and learners, making a real contribution for the health of our nation by getting important preventative messages out there...”

“Working together we can stop heart disease getting a grip on our nation and we can have a healthier future.”

Hon. Julieta Kavetuna Namibia’s Deputy Minister of Health

The UniCamp will be led by Cardiff University’s Head of Widening Participation and Community Outreach, Scott McKenzie, and will involve up to 10 students each from Cardiff and UNAM.

The Phoenix Project is part of Cardiff University’s Transforming Communities initiative to boost health, wealth and wellbeing in communities around Wales and further afield.

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