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Penduka.

'Penduka' means 'Wake Up' in the Oshiwambo and Herero languages. This was the name chosen for a women's development project that started 15 years ago, situated at Goreangab Dam in Katutura.

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"With this we want to say 'come on, wake up' to women throughout Namibia to start to take charge of themselves and their lives," said the director, Elizabeth van Dafschoof.

The DOTS project is among several programmes that are offered by Penduka, which provides volunteer caregivers to help both women and men to take charge of themselves in cases of Tuberculosis (TB) treatment. DOTS stands for Direct Observed Treatment Short course. The project began in September 2001.

People suffering from TB report to a health centre at a particular time each morning to receive a plate of food and their medication for the day, which they must take in the presence of the volunteer caregiver. This ensures that they maintain a strict regimen of medication as long as they continue attending the sessions. Penduka donates meat and another organisation called JUANITA runs a kitchen to provide hot food to the DOTS patients every day.

"On average, we (the volunteer caregivers) have 20-25 patients daily, at four different centres in Katutura, explained Project Coordinator Martha Hashipala. Some drop off, others are joining ... TB treatment is not easy. One has to take quite a number of tablets each day, depending on the strength of the particular strain of TB that one is carrying. Treatment takes six to twelve months for one to be cured. Sometimes, people get tired and stop taking the drugs; this makes the disease resistant to treatment when one resumes and it will take much longer to get healed."

TB experts say that the development of multi-drug resistant strains has increased, caused by inconsistent or partial treatment of ordinary TB. When drug treatment stops, the body builds up resistance to medication, reducing options for further treatment. Drug-resistant strains can cost up to N$25 000 to treat, as opposed to N$250 to treat a new infection.

It is a humbling experience to watch courageous men and women who have decided to fight the disease eating their food and taking their medicine. Their thread of life is being sustained by the combined support from fellow TB patients and handicraft training offered by Penduka staff during the DOTS sessions, such as beadwork, craftmaking and needlework.

"Penduka is doing a great job here. I hope to finish my treatment in the next three months and then I will continue trying to make crafts and sell because I am currently out of employment," said James, a TB patient.

Penduka also offers tourism-related facilities such as a restaurant, craft shop, accommodation as well as a conference room.

"The women of Penduka are awake ... we are very busy, and we know we are succeeding," concluded director Daschoof.

THE RESTAURANT

The Penduka restaurant offers a wide range of products from cold refreshment drinks, snacks, and breakfast to lunches and evening dinners.

THE CRAFT SHOP

In Penduka's craft shop one can buy all the products the Penduka women have designed and made themselves. One can also visit their workshops.

THE ACCOMMODATION

There are three different types of accommodation (campsite, back-packer's huts and the bungalows)--something for everyone's comfort and purse!

THE CONFERENCE ROOM

Penduka's conference room is a standard size and is often rented out for various functions.

KATUTURA TOURS

Penduka provides various tours in the Katutura township of Windhoek. A guide takes tourists to see and meet people in the different sections of this neighbourhood still overcoming the historical demarcations of apartheid.
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Title Annotation:'Penduka' means 'Wake Up' in the Oshiwambo and Herero languages
Author:Mwondela, Chilombo
Publication:Sister Namibia
Geographic Code:6NAMI
Date:Dec 1, 2005
Words:600
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