Children's Shelter Mammadù

Our Shelter hosts children who otherwise live in a situation of abandonment and deprivation, children of destitute parents, who may also be HIV patients or have issue with alcohol abuse. We provide a welcoming place where children receive food, can study and play safely sheltered from outside dangers.

We welcome 40 children and adolescents in two daily shifts:

  • pre-school children, from 4 to 6 years of age, attending the morning from 7.30 am to 1 pm
  • older children, up to 13 years of age, in the afternoon from 1 to 5.30 pm

We are open Monday to Friday throughout the year, except during school holidays from mid-December to mid-January.

The Ministry of Health and Social Services uses facilities at the Shelter for the administration of vaccines to the local community and other welfare activities.


The Children

The children we support live in Otjomuise, a slum made of tiny sheet-metal constructions with no running water, toilets and electricity. Their accommodations are extremely hot in summer and cold in winter time.

Because of poverty and social exclusion, these children are at high risk of abandonment and may end up in orphanages. Thanks to the fact that we provide them daily with water, meals, educational assistance, protected areas for play and sport, they can keep living with their families.

This is why we receive support from the Namibian Ministry of Health and Social Services: we are referred the most needy children according to an equal opportunities policy. The children are equally split between males and females and draw from the various ethnic groups living in Namibia.


Services and activities


We provide for the children’s most basic needs:

  • we serve the smaller children breakfast, a mid-morning snack and lunch; the older ones lunch and a mid-afternoon snack;
  • we make sure the children get some dental care, showers, hair-cuts and clothing;
  • we teach them principles of hygiene.


We provide instructions complementary to that offered by the local education system in various area:

  • basic literacy classes;
  • a pre-primary school, which is officially recognised and employs a Namibian teacher;
  • study assistance and rehearsal of the work done at school;
  • English language classes: one of our aim is to prevent inter-ethnical racism and a provide a potential working tool for their future (tourism is a leading economic drive in the country;
  • we cover school fees for some of the children.

Games, sports and leisure

We encourage participation in many activities: :

  • educational games and playful learning sessions;
  • expressive laboratories to help children elaborate their life experiences, often very difficult;
  • sports such as rugby and football;
  • once a month a visit to the city (for a rugby match, a visits to a museum, church, etc.) and during school holidays a day out (to the fire station, the airport, farms, etc.);
  • for older children, we organise once a year an excursion to different parts of Namibia.

We have a minibus to take the children from school to the Shelter and back home.


The staff

The Shelter employs a Namibian cook and a teacher. They are the only salaried staff members of Mammadù (both in Italy and in Namibia).

Mothers and other members of the community help out preparing meals and carrying out daily tasks.

The volunteers provide throughout the year study support and recreational activities.

A Security Service oversees the Shelter 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The staff is capable and motivated in ensuring the proper functioning of the Shelter.

In the future we would like to organise meetings between professionals from around the world – medical doctors, nurses, educators and psychologists — and the local staff to enable the Namibian personnel to operate with greater autonomy and competence.


The premises

The Shelter is situated in the slums of Otjomuise, on the outskirts of the capital Windhoek. The plot of land, about half a hectare, fully fenced, is divided as follows:

Indoor spaces

  • a large kitchen equipped with a large fridge and a freezer; the kitchen serves 500 meals weekly;
  • a pantry for storing food supplies;
  • a study room;
  • separate toilet for boys, girls and staff;
  • a warehouse.

Outdoor spaces

  • a playground;
  • a sport field in clay;
  • an orchard and a greenhouse.

The Shelter is designed to enjoy optimum exposure: cool during the summer and warm in winter.

Where possible we use recycled materials: plastic bottles for the greenhouse, bottle bottoms for the decorations, old tires for the playground and embankments. We plan to install solar panels to generate electricity and an irrigation system with terracotta pots.

The land was purchased in July 2010 and the construction work began in May 2011 and completed in August: we opened the doors to the children on September the 23rd.

In 2012 we completed the staging of outdoor spaces.

The works were funded by donations and the contribution of our benefactors and sponsors.


The extension project

We will extend the Shelter as soon as the funds will be available and we will accommodate up to 100 children.

We plan to build a second study room, a library and 2 bedrooms for the volunteers: the lay-out shows in purple the new rooms.


Letter from
Emanuela Cren
PhD in Pediatrics