Category Archives: Heroes

Heroes

When your janitor calls it a day

For over 14 years, Tate Johannes Fekayamala has woken each morning at 05:45 to prepare for work, a few minutes taxi-drive into Rundu from his homestead in Konke.

He was working for Standard Bank Rundu Branch for the past 14 years since moving from the main branch in Windhoek where he had worked for 15 years.

Each morning, he has to be the first one in the Standard Bank Rundu branch. By 07:30 when the Head Service Support, Francois Van Wyk walks in, Tate Johannes’ brooms and mops have rested, he is now busy preparing coffee for the boss; four sugars, strong, no milk, and in the afternoon, tea with the same sugar.

Over the 29 years, he has worked under several branch managers, many of whom he still remembers by name, Yvonne Stefanus, Corne Cloete and now Francois van Wyk.

“They have all been good to me. I also know the young man. He is a good young man, our Chief Executive, Vetumbuavi Mungunda.”

Humble may be his position but he has observed the bank’s growth for three decades and the biggest change has been the system.

“The customers are more now than when I started. Sometimes it means the bank gets very full and busy.”

By the time the Bank gets busier with clients queuing up, Papa Johannes is out on his daily routine. A stop at Nampost to pick up the letters, queuing up at NORED to pay the branch’s power bills, and other few errands required by the manager, dropping this envelope at the municipality or don’t forget to bring me a piece of chicken from Shoprite, another employee would request.

In many ways, Standard Bank Rundu Branch colleagues value and appreciate Tate Johannes, as they affectionately call him. When he returns to the bank, it’s almost midday, the first thing he notices is the dust that comes in with each feat walking into the bank, later he realises a child has messed on the floor, some have attempted to shred incorrectly filled deposit slips and left them all over the place.

Studying Tate Johannes is like learning about the calling of a janitor. At 59 he remains a pillar in the branch and is Standard Bank’s longest serving employee. He has almost become the uncle and father figure to the tellers and his other colleagues.

“God has kept me over the years. I have not experienced any major problems. I worked for good people and I have had children who are making something of their lives, I’m very happy,” he says.

Tate Johannes only speaks in Afrikaans. He says it has never been a problem. He never bothered to learn English in the old days because while working for Standard Bank in Windhoek, he resided in Wambolokasie before the move to Rundu in 2003.

The key to his happiness at work over all these years is enjoying time with others, Tate Johannes says. To him: “It’s something I want to do all the time. I always like to be at work meeting people. That’s the main thing in life, meeting people.”

Tate Johannes has seven children and following in her father’s footsteps, Justine works in Standard Bank’s IT department in Windhoek.

Two of his children Jeremiah (Information Systems) and Augustu (Electrical Engineering) are final year students at UNAM and NUST, respectively.

Augustu is so exceptional that Nampower provided a scholarship. All of the children are Standard Bank children he jokes off, having been sired while he worked in the Bank except his oldest son, 31 an employee at Jet in Windhoek. His youngest is eight.

“I want to thank Standard Bank because they also helped me with my children’s education. And not only that, when I was working in Windhoek, I got to shake the hands of President Hage Geingob and Hifikepunye Pohamba when they came to visit the Bank, I would have never gotten that opportunity in my life if I didn’t have this job,” he tells Us Namibia.

Head of Service Support and second in command at Rundu Branch, Francois van Wyk, who has worked seven years with him says, “Fekalamaya is quite humble. Even when he has to take instructions from someone who is younger, he doesn’t take it begrudgingly. He’s like a father to everyone here in the bank.”

Throughout his years of experience at the Blue Bank, Tate Johannes has been well respected by both colleagues and customers alike. Fruitful journeys like these speaks strongly to the Bank’s value of “Becoming the best company to work for”.

Born and raised in Konke, Tate Johannes grew up on in rural Rundu, in a family of seven who all sought greener pastures. His first job was in 1970 at Olympia Super Market in the fish and chips division.

Next January, he retires and plans to retreat to his village homestead, use his pension funds to buy some cattle and venture into tomato and coffee farming.

“I would have liked to have worked for one extra year, but I have to retire on January 5 when I turn 60. I think the time is right to move on, the land is good, I’m ready to move to the next chapter of my life, farming,” he says.

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Hilma’s quest: From janitor to hotel supervisor

If you judge the fish by its ability to climb, it is bound to fail–Albert Einsten

Hilma Onesmus remembers the incident that completely changed her life. She had just joined the company as a cleaner, mainly tasked with clearing tables at the Venus Shopping Centre’s Take-Away division, owned by Walvis Bay businessman, John Savva. That was 14 years ago.

She had walked in, almost bare-footed, rugged, tired from the bashing of society but hopeful. The only job she could manage was cleaning, so they settled for crumb cleaning job.

“One of the days Ms Savva found me busy cleaning the take-away tables and a discussion ensued where she asked about my past and future. I told her that I wanted to study hospitality. The only problem was my lack of education. I did not even know how to turn on the computer,” recalls Hilma.

After the customers left, she had to clean the dishes, and silverware into a buss pan, then wipe off all food soils, spills and crumbs into a rag, remove the dishes and carry them directly into the kitchen.

In trying her level best each day, each day was becoming more challenging for Hilma. The more she was trying her best, the more mistakes she was making, she says.

But rather than getting disheartened, she introspected.  She wasn’t enjoying what she was doing, it was a huge pain to carry.  Yet she knew what she didn’t want to do, but did not know how to do what she wanted.

Fortune favours the bold.

Hilma learnt from the restaurant discussions that the company was struggling with the Atlantic Hotel chef whose lifestyle was not at par with the demands of the job.

“I picked up that she would go AWOL for days especially when paid and had other domestic problems. So I decided to moonlight. Half the day I would spend cleaning the tables, the other I would be checking the chef in hotel kitchen.”

In no time, the chef left for good and Hilma’s progression began.

By 2010, she had moved from the kitchen at Venus to the hotel.

“Ms Savva told me if I have to do travel and tourism, I need to know everything about the industry before I even go to school. I started learning computers from the ladies at the front desk. When the hotel restaurant was not busy, I would come to the front desk to attend to clients and log in details into the systems.”

That same time, she had raised enough to register for a diploma in hospitality. And it shocked her paymasters.

Still, Hilma continued to work her way up the ladder, landing her diploma in 2013, by then she was already a supervisor, managing one of the best hotels in Walvis Bay, The Atlantic Hotel, the only one mostly frequented by the who’s who of Namibian politics and economic lifestyles.

With a storied history like this, she becomes a perfect example of sound business strategy and human capital development.

“There is nothing about this Atlantic hotel or Venus Shopping Centre that I do not know. It is not going for 15 years. I came here, no education, no boyfriend, no one wanted me. Today I am well education, married with three kids.

One of my kids is named after my boss’ late son, Yianni. These people have made a huge impact on my career and as a tribute to him, I’d like to share with you some of the lessons he taught me about how to push people to excel, how to forge a collection of individuals with varying talents and drive into a formidable team, and how to make work fun,” thus Hilma.

Hilma’s advice to other bosses:

  • Set the bar high and then push your team to raise it higher.
  • Make excelling a team activity. Mr Savva encourages the staff to share ideas and work in progress and to help each other improve. We became a learning organization, where morale was high and relationships were deep.
  • Promote your team in the organization.
  • Remember that management is personal. Mr Savva makes us a part of his life and genuinely cares about us. Ms Savva really gets to know the staff, which deepens our loyalty and allows them to gain insights into how to motivate each of us.
  • Champion your people.

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Pick ‘n Pay’s grocery packer who became regional manager

 

Regional Manager for Pick n Pay (PnP) Namibia – a subsidiary of the Ohlthaver & List (O&L) Group -, Angelo Morkel is not only on his way to celebrating his 20th anniversary in 2018 as part of the PnP team, but boasts with a significant level of growth over the past 19 years.

“I started my journey as a casual grocery bag packer straight after school in 1995 at the then Model Woolworths, and was appointed permanently on 14 April in 1998 – one year after the retailer was renamed ‘Model Pick n Pay’.

I can clearly remember how particular my supervisor, Monica Philander was about packing grocery bags, and how I was always so focused on doing it the way she taught me. As simple as the job may seem, it was a challenge, because I was so used to packing everything together in my personal capacity – things like not packing meat together with toiletries in one bag is a very strict rule, on which no mistakes were allowed by Philander, nor accepted by the customer. Focus and precision was thus crucial when doing my job.”

During his journey as packer, Morkel was also exposed to shelf packing and floor supervising, and on permanent appointment, was promoted to floor supervisor at PnP Walvis Bay, and enrolled to the internal three-year Trainee Manager Programme, which led to his promotion to Assistant Store Manager at the Swakopmund branch in 2001.

Thus Morkel: “I was extremely excited about the trainee program and regarded this as my opportunity to prove myself. Going forward my progress always came as a surprise to me, because I did not expect it to happen at such speed. Although I was always focused on doing well and standing out in whatever I do, the pace of my growth and development had me in awe every time. During my journey I also became involved in store layouts and was proudly involved in the layouts of the Katima Mulilo, Ondangwa, Oshikango, Tsumeb, Auas Valley, Eros and Khomasdal stores.”

In 2003 Morkel was promoted to Store Controller of the Khomasdal PnP Store, which he held for six months before he saw his next promotion to non-foods specialist at the same branch. He returned to the Swakopmund branch in 2005 when he was promoted to Store Manager and served in this position for four years.

The journey of growth continued for Morkel when he was transferred to the Wernhil Park store as Inventory/Warehouse Manager in 2008 – a position he served in for one year before his next move to Assistant Store Manager at the Auas Valley store in 2009 – and eventually, in 2010 promoted to Store Manager of the same store. Today Morkel occupies the position of Regional Manager at the Wernhil store –effective from the 1st of July 2017.

While his current duties entail supporting and managing all the managers of the Wernhil store, he is also a support system and mentor to store managers of other PnP branches in Windhoek.

PnP Manager: Human Capital, Adri Erwee: “Angelo’s dedication towards his work and his incredible belief in the company’s purpose has brought him the success he has achieved until now. He is determined to be a success and shows great passion in his work.”

Managing Director (MD) of PnP Namibia, Norbert Wurm attributes Angelo’s journey as a true reflection of the O&L Group’s commitment to its common purpose. Wurm: “Pick n Pay is very passionate and committed to the O&L purpose of ‘Creating a future, enhancing life’. It is not only the O&L culture of leadership development that supports our commitment to the growth of all employees, but Angelo’s positive attitude, eagerness and personal drive to grow himself and lead others contributed immensely to this exemplary journey of his.”

PnP National Manager, Roelf van Tonder who has partly shared Morkel’s journey with him, says Morkel has always jumped at any opportunity provided, to grow and develop. Van Tonder: “Angelo is an inspiration and a true reflection of what it means to want to learn and grow, and because of this characteristic had his way paved open for him. I am sure it hasn’t always been easy for him, but this man has a sense of determination and a vision that sets him apart from many others.

O&L Group Director: Human Capital, Berthold Mukuahima says Angelo’s story directly speaks to the O&L value ‘We Grow People’ and how committed the group and its operating companies are to this value. Mukuahima: “Growth and development is a strong pillar and focus area of the O&L Group purpose ‘Creating a future, enhancing life’ journey. It is stories like that of Angelo’s that inspires us, and gives us hope that we are on the right track of contributing to a great future for Namibia.”

Morkel attributes his growth to the opportunities made available to him. Morkel: “As much as I want to learn and grow, it would not be possible without a platform for growth and development. I am super grateful and blessed to be a part of the PnP team, and the O&L Group at large, for the simple fact that skill development and growth forms a significant part of the O&L culture, and without this environment, my growth would not have been possible. The secret is to have a positive mindset and outlook, and challenge yourself every day to be better than the day before; stay humble and be willing to learn as much as you can.”

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The Windhoek postman who never misses the party

The shift in consumer habits driven by e-commerce and increasing competition in recent years have negatively affected a record number of courier and haulier businesses, which in turn sparked a record number of insolvencies in the logistics industry.

But not for Hosky Gowaseb.

By evening each day, Gowaseb oversees over 6000 parcels leaving Windhoek destined to 140 Post Offices depots around the country, through Nampost’s six-line haul trucks and 70 other vehicles.

He doesn’t seem to tire. In fact, that Nampost’s courier division has been awarded the PMR Diamond Arrow for the 5th time in a row, inspires his determination.

“What gives me the most satisfaction is knowing that I have made a difference in someone’s life. Not just meeting their expectation, but exceeding it. For example, sometimes a parcel will get misrouted and if a customer is waiting for their parcel at 10am, we have to go out of our way overnight to intervene and sometimes it gets to its destination before 10. My energy subsequently comes from my team and from the fact that Nampost does appreciate our impact,” Gowaseb tells Us.

Besides the regular account holder and walk-in customer, Gowaseb also oversees some big accounts.

From thousands of MTC cell phones going out to clients on a daily basis, hundreds of blood packages for the Namibia Institute of Pathology (NIP), Pathcare and the Namibian Blood Transfusion Services (NamBTS), which must be delivered within 24 hours to their various destinations countrywide in order to still be usable.

Can you imagine what will be the effect if one of the deliveries is not completed or there are technical glitches within the department?

“There is no room for error. From the packaging to the drivers. We treat each package with unique care.

For instance, blood samples that must be transported to Katima Mulilo within 24 hours will be handled differently to a bank cheque that has to be delivered to a company in that same town who wants to pay their salaries. So care is key, and to achieve it, we know, ‘better safe than sorry, better late than never’,” explains Gowaseb.

With the digital advancements in the world supposedly chocking the life out of courier business, Nampost remains with over 25 000 customers weekly. Gowaseb says that they have not winced at technology. If anything, Nampost has embraced technology by diversifying innovation.

A case in innovation is the courier company’s EasyPack product which  allows customers to send parcels that weight less than 2Kg overnight to any destination in Namibia for only N$55.

The shifting demands of ecommerce have forced companies like Nampost to overhaul operations and invest heavily in new IT systems and automated warehouse operations that enable companies to process large volumes at speed, as well as providing customers with updates on a parcel’s progress.

“If you don’t have very sophisticated systems to manage those things you’ll find yourself losing out to competition,” says Gowaseb. “The businesses that have made investments and are at the forefront are in a stronger position to grow market share, and the ones who haven’t may find it’s too late.

Nampost is a trendsetter,” he adds, citing the company’s new system that allows you to track wherever your package is, right up to the moment of delivery, as well as the Nampost App that is in the offing.

As the largest courier company in Namibia, Nampost Courier also partners with international courier companies that allows sending or receiving parcels from oversees effortlessly.

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A day in the life of a Windhoek Burial Officer

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People often asked if it is creepy growing up near the cemetery. No it wasn’t. Meriam was just like any other goofy kid.

She technically grew up next door to the Katutura cemetery in Gologotha, Windhoek.

Today when her daughter is out with friends and they discuss what each’s mother does, “She is a burial officer for the city of Windhoek,” the response is always, “Are you not scared, is that not depressing?”

Alas, it isn’t. Meriam focuses on the ability of her family and staff to help a family through the worst time of their lives.

“The thanks we often receive when we have completed the services support our own emotions. It makes it much easier to go to the aid of the next family who calls in the middle of the night because some tragedy has taken a member of their family,” says Meriam.

And yes every death is a tragedy. Even the aging grandparent that has succumbed to a lengthy illness. That is a tragedy to their innocent young grandchildren. The magnitude of the tragedy varies for each family and their circumstances. So what is life like for Meriam? Hectic. Some weeks are a constant blur of motion from early morning to early morning the next day.

Last week was like that. Even on Christmas Day she maybe be burying someone with her team.

“When we have to shift into overdrive during an extremely busy week, it takes a few more hours to keep up with the required tasks,” she says.

The days start early, usually around 6:30 or 7:00 am, and often ends for her around 12:30 or 1:00 am the next day.

I really don’t mind because I know it will slow down again. “I can sleep when I’m old” is what Meriam says.

After seven years as the Burial Officer at the Gammams Cemetry, Meriam Uiras Ore-Aos has lost track of how many souls she has laid to rest.

Actually, of the 110 or so burials that take place in Windhoek, none go ahead without her approval and signature. Much of Meriam’s work includes doling out her encyclopedic knowledge of the process.

Dying is the most obvious intersection of church and state, with a series of laws and beliefs jumbling together into an overwhelming venn diagram of to-do lists and requirements—like handling foreign remains, or burying criminals or victims of a passion killing.

While we have all been destined to meet the cemetery sooner or later, for Meriam it seems destiny has paid closer attention.

“My daughter never liked my job. She distated it but that was only until my mom passed on. My daughter liked her grandmother.

Just like everyone else who is bereaved should come to my office for paperwork, this time it was my daughter who had to see and appreciate my role first hand.

From thereon, she is proud of me.” Meriam’s job is more than just approving demarcations of burial spots and signing forms. “On a given day, I visit the gravesites in Windhoek daily. Often, I spend more time there than in my own office.  It can be very volatile as I deal with grieving families and sometimes they request that I be there, so it means I cannot have a planned out day aside from a few meetings,” she tells our team as we tour part over a thousand tombstones, part of her everyday life.

Mondays are the busiest. Following weekend deaths and funerals, often Meriam gets requests from people looking to book burial spots. Some for their deceased loved one and yet others, for themselves so that their final resting place can be right next to their passed on loved ones.

She receives about 50 bookings for burials spots a day. Anyone can book a burial spot, which usually go for N$230 a year at the Gammams Park Cemetery, N$180 at the Khomasdal cemetery and N$150 at the Oponganda Cemetery in Greys Block. “There are people who have been paying this fee for over 40 years. Some complain that they have been paying for too long but in order to keep your spot, you have to book it and pay for it,” Meriam explains.

The Kututura cemetery in Golgotha, next to Meriam’s childhood home has been filled up for some time now except for reserved spots and most families of the deceased are flocking to Oponganda, across town.

She works in close connection with funeral undertakers and services like Avbob who get paid by their clients and then billed by the City of Windhoek at the end of the month for the burial spot.

It is a profession that requires as much skill with people as it does with specialized training and techniques. Though everyone will use one at some point, the best of her profession are virtually unnoticed by the general public when they are being used, yet, a great help to the families of their clients.

“I have to be on stand-by on Fridays because that is when the grave diggers are at work for weekend funerals.  We get up to 21 funerals each Saturday. Sometimes the grave diggers don’t do the job properly and I have to be on hand to sort it out.”

Meriam also helps with the running of the Windhoek crematorium and when cremation officer, Obed Haraseb, is not on hand, she conducts a cremation process herself.

There are about 40 cremations a month, as expected mainly white and Chinese, but black Namibians are starting to open more to the idea of cremation, she says.

We buy our way out of a confrontation with death by giving it to somebody else to take care of.  And it is often Meriam and her team.

She describes her first ever experience on the job in 2009 when a 17-year-old Windhoek student was struck by lightning.

“Seeing the mother’s face, even though she was stronger than the father was tough. I couldn’t take it. The boy was the same age as my daughter. It was the very first grave I had to demarcate and I can never forget it, especially having to talk the family through,” she says.  When popular gun shop owner and brother of Olympics athlete Gaby Ahrens, Sven Ahrens shot himself, the family was inconsolable she recalls.

But most families are difficult to deal with. It’s like the mourners come from a different planet, like you don’t have the same language, she says.

“There’s nothing you can say to them, and that’s intimidating and frightening. I learned to try to be helpful in a humble, modest way because that’s all I can do.

“Can I take your coat? Can I get you coffee? Is there anything I can do for you?” You don’t have to take a stab at some sort of sentimental, poetic summing up of the meaning of life. Just be there and be available,” Meriam tells Us pointing to two grave diggers busy working on a fresh grave.

“Families are grieving and they are not themselves. This grave was reserved for someone else, even though they haven’t met their payment commitments in a while but a certain family insisted that their deceased son be buried next to a tree.

As you can see, there is no tree here but they conceded. We found out later that the family didn’t want the original spot because they didn’t want their son buried next to a black person. This happens very often but while it would upset me in the past, I just feel sympathy these days. We cannot take racism to the grave.” As the Gammams cemetery fills up, a new cemetery is being opened in Rocky Crest and Meriam says she has already received complaints of families not wanting to be so close to Khomasdal or Katutura.

While to you the reader, this may sound too demanding from human beings, there’s a level of desensitization you experience when you deal with death every day. She is not bothered by such demands from the public.

This is part of the business which Meriam cannot quite delegate. After a lifetime in the industry, she has a level of expertise and special feelings that just can’t be transferred.

On the way out of the cemetery, there are a lot more phone calls, including preparations for a woman living out her final days in hospice.

Things can be hard, like the time she got a call from a family in their culture a woman should not perform a crematorium or a funeral from a few years ago when she had to hire security to keep out a woman’s husband because he was suspected of killing her.

Meriam avoids the most painful elements of her day-to-day life by keeping busy; still, when speaking about death, there’s an unmistakable sting in her voice that betrays  a lack of numbness.

And yet, she insists, “What I feel I do is give my love to the community. Sometimes I don’t even have weekends. I have to work on Saturday and Sunday, but I don’t plan on changing jobs because I love this job. I can take a walk alone during the cemetery and feel more peace than I have ever felt. It is peaceful here.”

We die [like other animals], but what sets us apart is we’re aware of that fact. We can’t make ourselves unaware of it.

The best we can do is find ways to distract ourselves. It’s a constant battle.

In the business of Meriam, it just comes every day. Three bodies. five burials. Eight funeral gatherings.

Then the next day, the same thing. It’s hard to shake the fact that there’s something natural and inevitable going on. Whereas in daily life, we don’t think about death until it happens to somebody.

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Charlie Matengu’s new normal

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His father died before he was born and surely life was never going to be rosy. No sooner had he been born than DJ Charlie contracted the polio virus, which caused his right      leg to be shorter than the other.

Roster Charlie Matengu is a well-known DJ. He became an inspiration for many after breaking the airwaves with a limp. But he had overcome many odds in his life.

Orphaned at birth and raised by a grandmother who struggled to make ends meet, Charlie Base as he is well known as, was once a landscape technician, a gardener to be precise.

He was admitted at Ga-rankuwa hospital outside Pretoria in South Africa for almost two years and if life hadn’t dealt him enough of a heavy blow already, his mother also died when he was in grade four.

For the following six-years, his grandmother became his chief cornerstone. “My grandmother begged the sisters at Cheshire Catholic School for disabled people in Katima Mulilo for me to get admitted in grade 8. A lot of people who are disabled in the village are cast aside and stay there without going to school but she fought for me to have an education. She’s my pillar.”

Sadly, she passed on right on the eve of Charlie’s grade 10 exam.“That’s when my life was shattered. For once I felt the loss. We had shared a huge bond and she sacrificed everything for me. That’s why I take my education and career very seriously. I was moved from aunt to aunt from thereon. I couldn’t stay long with them. Some felt uncomfortable staying with a disabled boy,” he recounts.

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Kuku’s N$1000 pension budget

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I am totally overwhelmed by the President’s initiative of giving a portion of his salary to the poor of the poorer, something that never happened in our lifetime. I don’t think it had happened in Africa before.

Lazarus Mambo is an 80-year old pensioner who lives a stone’s throw away across the Immanuel Shifidi Secondary School. He has been living here for almost 36 years after moving from Old Location. Widowed in 2012, he has been raising all his unemployed children on a meagre pension fund he receives from government. It’s been years since he last had electricity in this house.

“I rather pay for water than electricity. Water is life and from N$1000 pension money, the first thing I do is settle the water with N$300, another N$400 goes to maize meal,” he says. None of his six children and two grandchildren matriculated, most of them dropped out between grade 9 and 10 around the time that his wife died and none has been able to secure a job. His eldest son, Colin (40) gets part-time jobs at near-by Windhoek farms. But that has seemingly changed with the Dr Hage Geingob Winter Charity Drive.

“I am totally overwhelmed by the President’s initiative of giving a portion of his salary to the poor of the poorer, something that never happened in our lifetime. I don’t think it had happened in Africa before,” he says. “Dr Hage Geingob reminds me of Jesus Christ when he was surrounded by hundreds of people who were hungry and then multiplied a loaf of bread and fish that satisfied them all,” says Mambo.

As a senior citizen in his constituency, he engages himself in community related activities such as youth in sports and youth against drug abuse.

“I’m part of the Community Development Committee (CDC) for Katutura East constituency and I have a vision of the Namibia Sports and Recreational Club to become a reality.”

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Jobless, Homeless, Landless and Destitute

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Uaraisa Uazengisa recently found herself in Windhoek for the first time. She liked everything about the capital, from fast cars to the dazzling streetlights, a different heaven from what she was used to in Okakarara. She was determined to find a shelter at Havana Number 2, an informal settlement where she erected a corrugated iron shack, bringing along her three kids.

No sooner had she found comfort than mother nature pounced.

A severe storm in January this year demolished the little she had built.

“I was sleeping with my kids sleeping that night when the storm struck. Everything was taken away, we were left sleeping in the open with heavy rains hitting us. Thankfully no one was injured.” The family of four has been accommodated by neighbours since then for the past six months.

The oldest child, Mbatjitavi (22) recently got a job at Shoprite and has just relocated to a friend’s place. Thirteen-year-old Nandaurua attends Havanna Project school and is currently in grade 5, while the last born Kengeza (10) attends Moses Garoeb primary school and currently in grade 4 and is the only child of the three that gets a monthly grant of N$250 from the government. At 40, Uaraisa has never been employed and had it not been for her baby-daddy who walked out on her in 2014, leaving her alone in Okarara, things would have been different.

“He came to Windhoek and never turned back to us. He stays in Katutura and does not have any interest in the kids anymore. I guess he moved on together with Windhoek,” she says. Each day she walks to town in search of employment, to no avail, and on her way back passes by Swapo Moses Garoeb constituency office for anything left for the day, from bread crumbs to pieces of meat.

Recently Uaraisa was one of the fortunate people who got selected to benefit from the salary portion of the President where she received blankets and food under the Dr Hage Geingob Winter Charity Drive. She says it is enough to give her a head-start.

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