By Rosemary Nalisa, Namibia Red Cross Society

Hileni Naukushu is a respected local leader (headwoman) of the Okadhilodhi Area. She is also known for wearing a different hat as the head and champion of the Namibia Red Cross Society Community Mobilisation Unit, in the Omusati Region—since 2013.

“There is a common adage that says that two hands are better than one. If we all combine our efforts we can improve our communities,” says Naukushu. “There are many needy people in the community and if everyone would get involved with helping, instead of waiting for someone else to do it, human suffering would be minimized.”

She is an important pillar in her community. The community mobilization volunteer group she heads provides humanitarian services to vulnerable families, using readily available local resources. The services they provide include anything from ploughing the fields to assisting the elderly, vulnerable children or child-headed households. The group cleans houses, bathes the elderly, mends their fences or tends to them whenever they are sick.

“Being a volunteer does not require anything big. The little you do, can make a big difference in someone’s life, or even save a life. We want to expand our activities to other areas as well, and are currently lobbying for more community support,” Naukushu explains.

She also wants to engage the youth in volunteering and in dedicating time for the development of her community.

She says she firmly believes in the power of humanity and in helping those in distress, even if they sometimes need to walk long distances or use their own meager resources to assist the vulnerable members of their communities.

The Community Mobilization Project started with about 30 members and the number has over the past three years risen to 240. Naukushu joined the Namibia Red Cross Society as a volunteer in 2008 and moved to become a member of the Omusati Regional Board of the Red Cross.

She was introduced to the Namibia Red Cross Society’s humanitarian work through the information dissemination activities usually conducted by staff and volunteers in the various communities as well as traditional authorities.

Known for her determination and for being adept at encouraging the volunteers in carrying out their duties with diligence, she has helped her colleagues to earn the respect and trust of the communities and local authorities.

“We want to be known for our good deeds and for the impact we have on peoples’ lives. It is always humbling to see the beneficiaries, especially the elderly and those living with disabilities expressing gratitude for our humanitarian services,” she says.