Extraordinary People

Woman, 25, transforms lives by helping deprived kids get an education at school

Lena Palm began her mission to start “with the smallest amongst us”.

An aspiring philanthropist is helping underprivileged kids get a kickstart in their education to make sure that they all reach their full potential.

At just 20-years-old, Lena Palm began her one-woman crusade to also alleviate poverty so that future generations can live a life without fear of unemployment or disease.

Speaking about her mission, Lena, now 25, explained that her goal is to start “with the smallest among us” so that all children can grow up with equal opportunities.

Her organisation Wadadee Cares now runs kindergartens, pre-schools and food distribution centres in southwest Africa to reach those hardest hit by poverty.

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Lena explained: “I think that education is the highest good in our society and starts with the smallest among us.

“Although school attendance is compulsory in Namibia, there aren’t enough school places for all the children in the town of Katutura. So many children don’t have the opportunity to go to school, especially if they don’t speak English.”

Lena always felt a connection to Namibia, having visited several times as a child with her mother who worked as a researcher in the country.

Talking to Global Citizen, she continued: “This is where the private initiatives we work with come into play, to help prepare the majority of all children in Katutura for school, teach them English, and make sure they get a school place.

“Without these kindergartens and pre-schools, many children would be completely denied access to education. Without education, no child can go far, and they are then threatened with the devastating cycle of poverty, unemployment, and disease.”

Despite her hopeful vision of the future, the work does not come without its struggles.

Lena explained the biggest hurdle for many children is the assumption that they can’t escape poverty anyway, and consequently that impacts their wellbeing and ambition.

She said: “From hunger and language barriers, to destitution, disease, racism, and violence, it’s all there…

“In society, the image is often conveyed that living in Katutura is a bad thing and that therefore children have no chance of accessing education and getting a good job.”

However, Lena remains undeterred and remains committed to the cause.

The German humanitarian concluded: “My wish for the future for all of our children is the same as for my younger siblings in Germany; to have the freedom to choose how they want to live, to have all options open to them, regardless of their skin colour or origin.”

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