Mobilising for youth wealth-creation
Ndaindila Haindongo is an ambitious 25-year-old.
In 2013, she enrolled for her bachelor’s degree in environmental health and sciences at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (Nust).
In her final year, Nust provided Haindongo with a life-changing opportunity to do a three-month internship in Switzerland under B360 Educational Partnerships.
Haindongo grew up in Katutura, where she attended primary school at St Barnabas.
She matriculated from Dawid Bezuidenhout High School.
“My teachers and school peers would describe me as an enthusiastic girl who does not conform to labels placed upon women, while others have described me as a ‘bulldozer’, as I always strategically place myself in environments where I can grow and expand (my horizons),” she says.
The B360 programme
The B360 programme promotes the exchange of knowledge and experience between organisations and specialists in Europe and students, teaching staff and managers from universities in southern Africa in Namibia, South Africa and Zambia.
“In Switzerland, I worked at a food plant company (HACO AG) in the microbiology and chemistry laboratories. My job task was to ensure quality standards are met for all food products.
“Within three months in the capital city of Switzerland, my mindset on food safety was shifted and my interest in food safety was expanded through the knowledge of advanced technologies and systems, to ensure that food safety standards were adhered to.
“It was post this internship that I made a personal commitment to advance food safety in Namibia, because of my stern belief in the importance of public health for the realisation of Vision 2030 and other national development goals,” she says.
Upon her return home, Haindongo became the quality manager at Natural Namibian Meat Producers (NNMP), an exporting abattoir in Aranos that slaughters sheep and cattle.
“Within this role, I developed and implemented a functional food safety management system which ensured that the company regained the exporting certificate it needed to operate.”
After two years at NNMP, she expanded her professional experience to Namibia Dairies as its quality control and systems supervisor.
“Within this role, I coordinated internal and external audits, rendered quality assurance support to various departments and facilitated food safety programmes in compliance to the O&L Group quality policies, food safety regulations and quality standards/specifications,” she says.
A step into the future
Haindongo was awarded the highly competitive Chevening scholarship to pursue an MSc in food safety, hygiene and management at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom (2018 to 2019 cohort).
Chevening is the UK government’s global scholarship programme, funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and partner organisations.
It enables outstanding emerging leaders from all over the world to pursue master’s degrees in the UK. “Studying in the UK was groundbreaking and it has expanded my vision to not only ensure food safety, but to likewise promote food security during this alarming global warming.”
Haindongo plans on pursuing a PhD in food security and sustainability, and continue to contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 of zero hunger, through partnerships and collaboration with the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO).
“I am currently working on a youth project - African Youth in Livestock, Fisheries, and Aquaculture Incubation Network (AYL-FAIN) - which aims to provide a forum for supporting investment and business start-ups in livestock, fisheries and aquaculture for African youth and women,” she says.
This youth project is particularly important because it serves to better mobilise Namibian youth to utilise animal resources for job- and wealth-creation.
It also provides a forum for supporting investment and business start-ups in livestock, fisheries and aquaculture. The project will be launched early next month in Windhoek.
Haindongo could not have accomplished all she has without her family and friends, who are always encouraging her in all of her pursuits and inspire her to follow her passion. “I would like to encourage my fellow young people to believe that they deserve the countless opportunities out there. They should set goals, stay determined and be confident in their abilities,” she adds.