Rising with Kandowa – The truth, by itself.

In the heart of industrial Windhoek, Mello Bakery is bustling with activity. The 24-hour operation, which produces thousands of loaves of bread each day, has recently become the workplace of young Rosamunde Kandowa, a participant in the Reach Namibia project, funded by the United States government. The 23-year-old lives with her mother and her siblings in Ombili, Katutura, a lower socioeconomic residential area on the outskirts of Windhoek, where she learned about the initiative from a neighbor.

Reach Namibia began in August 2023 and provides comprehensive health and social services to children, adolescents and youth vulnerable to HIV to equip them with life skills and improve access to education, employment and health services. Reach Namibia is funded by the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by Project HOPE Namibia and Intrahealth Namibia.

Kandowa successfully completed training improving the economic security of young women, where she learned financial literacy, professionalism, communication, leadership and job readiness (including CV writing and interview skills). She also supports vocational training courses such as plumbing, bricklaying and baking. Kandowa opted for the baking course and completed her internship at Mello Bakery with great success.

Bakery owners Dylan Maritz and Mike Samson support the Reach Namibia program by offering internships and jobs to promising graduates. They also provide critical knowledge and information to program staff to ensure that training courses meet the real needs and realities of the country’s labor market.

“The characteristics we look for in an employee are a strong work ethic and a go-getter attitude,” Samson and Maritz explained. “Baking is hard work, the hours can be long, but it is also very rewarding,” Kandowa added.

She describes herself as cheerful and happy now that she has a job that helps support her family members at home by covering expenses such as groceries and toiletries. She also uses a business starter kit that includes a gas stove and baking utensils provided by the Reach Namibia project to bake over the weekend and sell bread to local community members.

USAID’s Reach Namibia program facilitates economic opportunities for young women experiencing challenging life situations to help reduce their vulnerability and risk of contracting HIV.

Kandowa is one of six Reach Namibia participants at Mello Bakery. “I am working hard to gain more experience, grow professionally and hopefully one day take on a management position,” said a confident Kandowa. “I will always be grateful to my neighbor who informed me about this USAID program that began my journey of empowerment.”