|Lavinia (DEEP) and Helalia (TKMOAMS)|
Lavinia Friedrich, finance manager at DEEP, and Helalia Shipinge, TKMOAMS manager, are seen here with solar powered lights for sale in their eBoxes. These micro-business bike shops, originally established to bring affordable transportation to rural Namibia, have flourished and evolved. Many eBoxes now offer a variety of products to ease rural living, many cycling related, but not all.
It is the success of these small businesses, capital raised and reinvested, and the skill set provided and honed under the eye of BEN Namibia, that have given these communities hope and purpose. Many eBox businesses reinvest not only in their shops, but also in their community, in their people.
|DEEP mission: Changing attitudes and creating positive role models|
Moses Tolata helped establish DEEP through BEN Namibia who helped open the shop in 2007. BEN Namibia provided training to mechanics, including Moses.
"This is the first time in my life that I have a permanent job. People think a disabled person can't do anything. You can have the same or even better skills as others, but people won't give the job to you," remembers Moses. But not since DEEP.
Because of the discrimination against people with disabilities Lavinia struggled to find work before she found DEEP. She excelled in her position which propelled DEEP forward. Lavinia helped build DEEP from a busy bicycle shop into a thriving, diverse business. In recent years, through grant support, they were even able to add a computer training center and Internet cafe.
|David, Moses, and Lavinia|
David was trained as a mechanic at DEEP where he worked when he wasn't studying computers. "I would like to study electrical engineering, and I'm saving money and studying at home to go to college," reported David back in 2009.
Unexpectedly last fall, we received word that Lavinia had passed away. From BEN Namibia: "Lavinia was with the project from the beginning in 2007. Lavinia was a vibrant and dynamic person and showed her community that living with a disability is no barrier to achieving your dreams. Lavinia will be deeply missed by all of us at BEN Namibia. Our condolences to her family and colleagues at DEEP."
You can find DEEPs history along with many other stories in Namibia on Two Wheels by Gisele Netto and Michael Linke. Available now on Amazon.