South Africa: South African Singer Adopts Street Child

South Africa: South African Singer Adopts Street Child
New Era (Windhoek)

28 June 2007
Posted to the web 28 June 2007

Surihe Gaomas
Windhoek

"Can I take him with me? If you promise me you will stop drinking and abusing drugs, I promise I will take you as mine by paying for your school fees from now on, okay," UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Yvonne Chaka Chaka told a street child.

This generous gesture was made when the well-known South African singer and Yvonne Chaka Chaka this week adopted Namibian street child, 17-year-old Elrico /Narib.

Speaking at the commemoration of the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking on Tuesday, Chaka Chaka was all too touched about the sad tales of street children caught up in the seemingly never-ending vicious cycle of drugs and alcohol.

Giving a motivational talk, Chaka Chaka felt passionate about the notion that young people must stay away from illicit substance abuse in order to become responsible leaders of tomorrow.

"Will all the young people stand up, please. Yes, I want to talk to you," said Chaka Chaka, stepping away from the stand. "Who of you abuses alcohol and drugs? Come on, don’t be shy now?" she asked.

It was only after a few seconds that /Narib then shyly put up his hand, and he was beckoned by Chaka Chaka to come up to the front.

This was indeed a touching moment for this street child from Okahandja Park in Katutura, as it marked the turn-around of his life away from drugs and alcohol.

As from next year, a much brighter chapter will open up in the life of /Narib. He was encouraged by Chaka Chaka to get rid of his old habit of substance abuse and get back into a classroom.

Tears were running down his face as he shyly accepted the "adoption" offer from the UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. All he could say was a mere "yes, thank you," to the African princess of South African pop music.

/Narib’s life story is no different from the many others one hears about street children in the country. Dropping out of school at Grade 5 in 2005, the young boy got caught up in street life and became addicted to drugs like dagga and alcohol.

All this happened soon after his mother passed away in 2004 and his unemployed father was unable to cater for his daily needs.

"He smokes zol (dagga cigars) and drinks alcohol a lot. I know he wants to stop but just does not know how," were remarks from Maria Boois, an ex-sex-worker and the leader of a Christian-based group for reformed street people called King’s Daughters.

"Ever since his mother’s death, all he’s known is life on the street and he used to sleep in pipes or street corners in the location area of Okahandja Park. His father is also sick and unemployed, so I decided to take Elrico into our prayer group, the King’s Daughters," explained Boois further.

As an initiative, which started on May 2, 2006, the King’s Daughters help people of the street – prostitutes and street children alike – to do away with dangerous, old habits and to live a Christian-based lifestyle.

Ever since his "adoption" by the singer on Tuesday, the shy-spoken youth has been crying with joy and happiness. "This is like a miracle indeed. Four weeks ago we had Bible studies and we prayed for him, and now this has happened to him," said Boois.

As for now, Elrico’s case will be taken over by Rene Adams, Coordinator of Coalition for Responsible Drinking within the Ministry of Health and Social Services, and also in consultation with the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare.

Adams will therefore act as a mediator between the Elrico and the singer, as logistics are now underway.

Chaka Chaka was here at the invitation of UNICEF in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Social Services. She left the country on Tuesday.

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