From Humble Beginnings – CITW Namibia Super Camper to University Graduate

CITW Namibia is immensely proud of one of our very own scholarship students, 23-year-old Melissa Ndapunikwa Nghisheefa, who was born in Windhoek and raised in the northern part of Namibia, 30 km outside of Oshakati, in a village called Omungwelume.

Melissa joined the programme in 2013 as a Grade 7 learner at Okaukuejo Combined School, situated at Etosha National Park’s Andersson Gate. This year, Melissa graduated on April 26 from the University of Namibia (UNAM) with a Diploma in Lifelong Learning and Community Education.

In 2019 Melissa joined our CITW annual camp at Wilderness Desert Rhino Camp as a volunteer, and later that year featured in an article in our Eco-Stars magazine. Melissa is currently a volunteer at a Meraki Educare Centre, a sub-company of the non-governmental organisation Tulonga Foundation that aims to strengthen the inclusive educational system, the voices of girls with disabilities, and support girls from marginalised and underserved communities in Namibia.

Melissa’s Meraki Educare Centre is located in Rundu, a town in the extreme north-east of Namibia on the banks of the Okavango River, along the Angolan border. Melissa co-ordinates the Environmental Club, heads the school garden and fosters confidence, encouragement, motivation, and leadership qualities within these children.

Melissa’s volunteering journey started with the Tulonga Foundation in 2021, through her thesis project proposal, which was based on Early Childhood Development for Marginalised and Underprivileged Children. Considering her background experience with Children in the Wilderness, she made a positive impact on the interview panel and was a successful candidate for the volunteering position.

Melissa aspires to be a youth worker and or a community development practitioner in the future. She further aspires to expand her expertise in the field of community-based childcare and mainstreaming child protection and community mobilisation principles. 

With this, below is Melissa’s message of gratitude to Children in the Wilderness.

“Children in the Wilderness, thank you so much for your important contribution towards my studies, and self-discovery, to finding my potential towards community education. The foundation set forth my in-depth knowledge on environmental issues and sustainable conservation and how interlinked everything else is with community involvement. I will forever be grateful to Children in the Wilderness, and I can proudly and confidently say that I am an active ambassador in my community to implement school and village environmental projects and initiatives, as well as create awareness – starting with the young ones because they are the future generation of our country”.

Report by Juliet Binda, CITW Administrative Assistant

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