A registered NGO based in Rehoboth, Karen’s Life Change Centre (KLCC) is on a mission to serve the community in the upliftment of living, through counselling, rehabilitation and training to transfer knowledge and skills.
What seems like an almost impossible task in a community which is ravaged by rampant alcoholism, drug abuse, femicide, child abuse, among others, is a calling Karen feels God placed on her heart to make a difference and shine His light among the people in her community.
Born Karen Neeuwes in the Bloukrans/Stinkwater environment, Karen was born into a humble home, with a mother who instilled in her from a very young age, the desire to help her fellow human beings. The kind of ‘help’ went beyond giving neighbours or strangers a piece of bread and a cup of tea, however, but extended to encouraging and being of service to people whom she comes into contact with.
“My mother was a person who gave her time and effort to people and she believed firmly that ‘the other person must also have’,” Karen tells us of her mother.
After a journey of working in the banking sector in Namibia, Karen felt obliged to follow her calling and when she finally made the decision to resign from the bank, the next day she stepped into the office of a friend who was working with a community of prostitutes operating in Windhoek.
“I told my friend at the time that I had resigned from the bank on that day, 31 May and asked her if she didn’t have something for me to do from the following day. Without knowing, my friend was at a point where she was feeling despondent and wanting to give up the charitable work that she was doing, and I stepped in to be of service to her and to the women whom she served.”
Karen learned over the next year the real stories of the experiences and the lives, the struggles of women who have turned to prostitution for survival.
“My husband and I had the opportunity to help with organising events for that movement, to help generate funding for the women.”
That period kept the fire of service burning high within her, until in 2012 she registered KLCC in the city where she lived with her husband and her family.
Referring to herself as a volunteer for KLCC, Karen says that she gets a kind of satisfaction from the work which she has not gotten from any other work that she has done. “As I put on this badge this morning, I am a volunteer. And I want to clock in at 8 o’clock and clock in at 5 o’clock, I want to do this work with pride, like I am doing it for the Lord. I don’t want to do a half-hearted job, I want to do a decent job and leave a lasting impact on the lives of the people we come into contact with.” The centre started working with a group of women in Rehoboth earlier this year. The women come with different needs, different struggles and different desires, but Karen finds that what is most dominant in the group of women that the centre is currently counselling, is that they suffer from depression.
Having herself dealt with and having overcome the darkness and heaviness of depression, Karen is passionate about giving young people, women and the elderly a safe place where they can find refuge. She also makes sure they have someone to speak to and while they overcome depression and or abuse of every kind, and leave at the end of it, with a richer life and with a new skill that will enable to sustain themselves into the future.
Focus on the family
A big part of what KLCC aims to do is offer a holistic healing facility to families as a whole.
“Whole family units need to be healed. You may find in a family that there are different individuals each with their own illness. One may be lost in alcohol, lost in prostitution or drugs, a marriage that is broken, and we want to assist in curing them from their addiction and training them. We do this, so they can work for themselves when they leave the care of the centre. Our vision is to equip, to skill and to train.” Being a prayer warrior herself, Karen believes that, “a woman must pray for her community. It begins with a marriage being healthy, which leads to the children being healthy and extends to the town, the community, the city and eventually the country being in a healthy state.
In an attempt to raise funds and awareness for the centre and for paying for land secured to construct a new building for Karen’s Life Change Centre, a fundraising event is to be held at Rehoboth in November.
The building aims to be similar to a lighthouse, with a light swirling on top of it 24/7, pointing towards a place of safety, a haven from harm and hurt, a place of healing, with willing hands always available to encourage and to rebuild.