In 1991, children in the Sossusvlei area in the ancient Namib Desert, would gaze up to the sky and see a huge, colourful balloon rising and floating over the area. In awe they ran and followed this captivating balloon, much bigger than they had ever seen.
In the early beginnings of tourism in the now famous Sossusvlei area with its remarkable dunes, Eric and Nancy Hesemans of Namib Sky Balloon Safaris, enabled these children to dream of their future.
Together with their son Denis and daughter in law Andreia, they soon realised that the children of the employees working in this remote area, needed a solid educational base, for them to secure better chances for their future. Through the birth of their own granddaughter Kiara, the foundations were beautifully set.
In 2011, with 3 pupils and a dose of a pioneer spirit, Little Bugs opened its doors. Aptly, it is named after the creepy crawlies you find ascending the dunes. The school offers early childhood to early primary school education up until Grade 4. Over the years it has grown and currently there are 34 learners and a teacher headed by a principal. Additionally, in 2019, they started a very successful online campaign that allowed them to build a beautiful new classroom and a small computer room.
The Little Bugs Early Childhood Development Centre is entirely funded by donor funds. The parents of the children only pay a small transport fee for the bus that takes them to the school on a daily basis. Many foreign teachers that visited the Sossusvlei area as tourists, returned and taught the children for a period of two years. This provided the much welcome broader vision of education and it saw that parents and caretakers alike also received support on how to take care of their children and provide a safe environment at their homes.
Once UNICEF recognised the centre’s efforts and included them in their regional supported ECD program, the first steps to the making of a vegetable garden were made. This greatly benefited the parents in growing their own vegetables and allowed them to become less dependent on the nearest town, which is 180 km away.
In July 2012, Namib Sky Community Trust was recognised and registered by the government of Namibia as a "charitable trust for purpose of community education and development", (T273\2012).
The school’s philosophy is to provide a cultural area that stimulates the children’s curiosity and knowledge in a safe environment. The centre also emphasises practical learning by offering lessons such as cooking, gardening and environmental education, social behaviour and hygiene. Combined with medical and psychological care, parenting support and a nutritional program Little Bugs assures healthy, educational, and social development for the children. The programme has a significant impact on the community of Sossusvlei as a whole. They have extended this long list of projects with a chicken farm and aquaponics.
Gondwana Collection Namibia has a wonderful partnership with Little Bugs for many years now. Not only is Little Bugs one of the beneficiaries of our yearly Gondwana Care Trust Christmas Bags Back to School Project, but we also support their
sewing division by purchasing products to resell at our selected retail shops. One of these retails shops is at Namib Desert Lodge, which is one of the closest to the school.
Items sold range from Shweshwe lion, elephant- and giraffe toys, to very stylish (yoga) bags and practical homeware (some made from recycled beer caps!). Additionally, in time for the festive season, they have also launched beautifully made Sheshwe Xmas decorations.
Explore our online store, The Narrative and support Little Bugs to continue making every child in the Sossusvlei area soar.
Written by: Sonia Noirfalise