Faces of the Pride: Donna van den Heever
- Name: Donna van den Heever
- Role: Senior Sales Administrator and G4S Namibia Program Leader for Bhubesi Pride Foundation’s Namibia project leg
- From: Windhoek, Namibia
Donna’s experiences leading Bhubesi Pride Foundation’s program for G4S Namibia over the past five years have been vast. Since 2012, it’s spanned two locations, Rehoboth and Walvis Bay, involved hundreds of children and even incorporated a tailor-made school holiday coaching schedule when the project took place out of term in 2016.
Even in 2017, Donna proved once and for all that she goes fearlessly beyond her job description, joining Pride members for a skydive over the Namib Desert!
Each year, Donna develops a new life-skills education program, ensuring the participating children can learn and ask questions about the information and issues most relevant to them.
“In Walvis Bay, where the program has focussed its efforts for the last three years, 80 per cent of children aged 13 to 16 have already experimented with drugs or alcohol. These are really worrying statistics and so the aim of the 2017 life skills session was to empower the children to make positive choices.
Support from local teachers helps us to ensure this knowledge stays with the children and that our program leaves a legacy. The support in Walvis Bay has been great. We’ve had feedback from the teachers to say we’ve helped them meet a need for drug and alcohol education, and they’ve requested copies of our printed materials and posters to use for their own classes.”
Donna and the team at G4S Namibia have taken the BPF program to new levels, creating opportunities for key clients to become involved and join them in giving back to the community through promoting rugby. Organisations including Shoprite and Waltons contribute to coaching week and tournament day, donating food and stationary respectively for the children.
G4S Namibia has also partnered with local businesses to support JJ’s Education Centre, a school for children with special needs.
“JJ’s Education Centre is a remarkable place. There’re 120 students who live with a range of disabilities. Over the last two years, we’ve had so many people come together to support the amazing work they do. In 2016, paint company Plascon helped us to maintain the buildings, and CIC provides food on a regular basis. In 2017, G4S donated an orthopaedic bed for a student with cerebral palsy. To get the bed from Windhoek to Walvis Bay was a huge undertaking, but we had people donate their time and vehicles to make it happen.
One of my favourite parts of coaching week is watching the Pride members interact and bond with the children, including the students at JJ’s Education Centre when we visit for a tour. The Pride members are always such nice people who really enjoy the work they do and it means a lot to the local children to meet people who’ve come from all over the world to teach them.”
Donna says that leading the BPF’s program has pushed her out of her comfort zone, professionally and personally. She’s worked with communities she may otherwise never have visited, developing a deeper understanding of some of the social challenges they face, getting to know people along the way.
“If we let the children decide how many of them could be involved with Bhubesi Pride Foundation, there would be thousands! Rugby is one of the top sports in Namibia and we’re helping to develop it further.
For many of the children involved in coaching, they have tough lives at home. Rugby gives them a chance to be involved in something bigger – it’s something to focus on. We give them a memory that no one can take away… and that’s very special.”