Johanna Wilkie

Johanna Wilkie (Breaking the Wall of Silence in Windhoek): Johanna lived and worked in Rome, Italy for two years teaching English as a Second Language (ESL). After her return to hometown of Boston, she taught immigrants and college students ESL for two years before moving to Los Angeles to work as a program manager at a California non-profit. At the time of her fellowship, Johanna was studying for a Masters degree in international affairs and development at Georgetown University, and working toward a Certificate in Refugees and Humanitarian Emergencies. She also interned at the International Rescue Committee as an Africa Advocacy Intern.

Auntie Rosa

26 Jun

At the launch event for the Disarming Domestic Violence campaign, I met an amazing woman.  Her name is Rosa Namises, and she is the founder and director of Women’s Solidarity Namibia (WSN), an NGO that works with women in abusive relationships.  It was in this capacity that she was a panelist at the launch event.  Last week she came in to the BWS office to talk with us about partnering on some aspects of the campaign, and I got to find out more about her.

Auntie Rosa

Rosa Namises

Although WSN has been around since the late 1990s, Rosa has been doing this work for over 30 years.  She was even a member of Parliament for a few years, and gender-based violence was the main cause that she worked on while in office.  Because of her dedication, she is well-known in Namibia, and every day she gets at least one call on her cell phone from a desperate woman looking for help.  She handles many of these calls personally, going to the women’s homes to talk to them, even talking with the abusive husband or boyfriend if asked to intervene.  I think she is one of the bravest, kindest women I have ever met.  Many of the women she helps, or their children, call her “Auntie” Rosa.

Rosa told us a sad story, the story of a woman who has been abused for many years.  Recently, her husband was angry at her and he started “asking about his gun,” presumably to let her know he was thinking of using it.  Rosa intervened and demanded that the husband give her the keys to the safe where the gun was being stored, and thankfully he handed them over (see what I mean about her bravery?).  This woman has a good job and has the means to leave her husband, but she hasn’t managed to do it yet.  We hope she can find the strength soon.

But Rosa also told us some inspiring success stories.  A woman who was abused by her husband for 27 years did manage to leave him, and is now running her own construction company in Windhoek.  Rosa had a big smile on her face as she told this story.  But she also said that in her 30 years working with troubled families, only about 25 women have actually gotten out of their distressing situations.

Finally, she told us one more inspiring tale.  She had invited the women from the support group that she runs to come to the campaign launch event.  One of them did come.  The next week, at the end of the support group session, this woman asked to speak.  She then proceeded to teach the other group members about the link between guns and domestic violence, saying that she was going to bring the message to her home town of Khorixas and that the other women there should do the same.  It was wonderful to hear that the launch inspired someone to teach others, and that the message is spreading.

Posted By Johanna Wilkie

Posted Jun 26th, 2009


  • Janet Wilkie

    July 4, 2009


    Love hearing about the brave, kind acts that people preform-often unnoticed. Thank you for bringing Rosa Namises’ work to our attention. Hope her success stories will continue to grow.

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