Ombetja Yehinga Organization
OYO is a Namibian Welfare Organisation established in December 2002, and officially launched in March 2003. The organisation aims at using the arts – both visual and performing – to create awareness and mitigate the impact of the HIV/AIDS pandemic and other social problems such as domestic violence, rape, and the abuse of alcohol and other drugs amongst the youth of Namibia.
Background of the organisation:
The origins of OYO lie in the Kunene Regional Council. In 2000, teachers requested support for their attempts to effectively and efficiently integrate HIV/AIDS-related information into their school curriculum. In January 2001, the council officially launched a programme called Ombetja Yehinga, as part of the activities of the Regional HIV/AIDS Coordinating Committee (RACOC) for the Kunene Region. The project was extended for one more year in 2002. By the end of 2002, the programme appeared to be so successful that OYO received requests to expand it to other regions. With this end in mind, the Ombetja Yehinga programme registered with the Ministry of Health and Social Services as an NGO, and focused on the development of a proper work plan and philosophy, characterised by the slogan: Using the arts with young people to create social awareness. In 2003 a head office was established in Windhoek and two regional offices opened in the Erongo and Kunene region.
Location and Team:
Currently OYO has various projects in different parts of the country:
- ’San Matter’ focuses on encouraging young people of San decent who enrol in schools to remain in schools. Re-enrolment rates between 88% and 100% and passing rate between 76% and 86%.
- ’New narratives/ new beginnings’ addresses the issue of child marriage in the Kunene region
- ‘Growing strong in the Karas region’ works with young people in the Southerner part of the country, addressing issues affecting them
- ‘In and out’ is a project in correctional facilities to discuss HIV transmission among inmates
OYO currently has a core team of five fulltime staff members (director, general manager, production manager, logistic manager and youth development officer) and two part time staff members (finance manager and graphic designer). OYO is pride on being the first and currently only dance troupe in Namibia to employ young dancers full time (8 dancers and up to 4 trainees). It contracts youth facilitators and other professionals based on projects.
OYO believes that young people should be reached through an exciting medium that proclaims a simple but strong message with the aim to have a positive impact on the youngsters’ attitude, behaviour and way of thinking. Over the years OYO has developed a strategy using the arts.
Examples of results include:
- With the ’San Matter’ project, re-enrolment rates between 88% and 100% and passing rate between 76% and 86%.
- With the ‘Growing strong in the Karas region’, OYO has worked with four out-of-school unemployed youth groups and reached thousands of learners in schools
- With the ‘in and out’ project OYO has encouraged over 1,200 offenders to know their status
- The ’new narratives/new beginnings’ project only started in July 2019
OYO also prides itself to have produced works of art that are internationally acclaimed. For instance:
- The DVD ‘Kukuri’ on child marriage has been nominated as Best Movie Southern Africa at the AMVCA Awards 2020 (Nigeria)
- The DVD ’Salute!’ won the Sotigui Award for Best actor Southern Africa in 2019 (Burkina Faso), was nominated as best movie southern Africa at the AMVCA Awards 2018 and presented at AIDS 2018 conference in Amsterdam (2018).
- The OYO dance troupe was the only troupe from the African Continent invited to perform at the Commonwealth Youth Dance Festival in Glasgow (2014). It also premiered ’Trapped’ in the Netherlands in 2018.
Strategy for the future
OYO will continue to reach as many young people as possible, both in school, out-of-school and in correctional facilities. OYO will continue addressing burning issues such as alcohol and drug abuse, gender-based violence, teenage pregnancy, child marriage and will continue to produce relevant, challenging and unique pieces to trigger discussion and encourage audiences to reflect, learn and participate.
Relationship with Horizon
Since 2015 Horizon has supported the ‘Growing Strong’ project and enabled OYO to work each year with youth groups (2015: Keetmanshoop, 2016: Keetmanshoop and Koes, 2017: Koes and Bethanie, 2018: Keetmanshoop, Koes and Bethanie and 2019: Karasburg). It has enabled the groups and the OYO dance troupe to visit yearly ten schools twice or three times per year, hence giving relevant messages to thousands of young people.