Girl (14) takes care of abandoned siblings

Girl (14) takes care of abandoned siblings

Stefanus Nambara

NZINZE – It is not an everyday occurrence that a 14-year-old carries the mammoth task of taking care of their siblings when they can barely take care of themselves, and should be taken care of.

But this is the reality of a minor from Nzinze village in Kavango West’s Musese constituency, who takes care of her siblings after their parents left them to their own devices and turned their backs on them, never to look back again.

The four sisters are aged 17, 14, 12 and nine.

Their situation flies in the face of the laws of the land.

Namibia has laws in place such as the Child Care and Protection Act, which guarantees children’s rights to the basic conditions of living necessary for their development, including adequate food, shelter, clothing, and care and protection, amongst others.

The Act further goes on to state that it is the duty of a child’s parents, guardian, or carer to secure these conditions of living.

But the quartet under the spotlight has been denied these rights.

According to them, their father left about nine years ago.

As for the mother, it is said that she left around 2020 just to reappear recently, but only to give birth. She would vanish into thin air again.

In the absence of parents, the 14-year-old has now assumed the role of a parent to her younger siblings, while the older one, who is hearing-impaired, spends most of her time in the hostel.

They survive on handouts from sympathisers and doing odd jobs as their parents barely send them something, said concerned residents.

Without proper shelter and anyone to protect them, they have also been exposed to sexual harassment and abuse.

“These kids are staying alone in a corrugated iron room; the door is not proper, and boys are coming there,” said one concerned resident who spoke on condition of anonymity, adding that when they are asked about the ordeal, they do not speak out but rather burst into tears.

She further alleged that an older man in the village took advantage of the girl’s situation and sexually harassed the 14-year-old. 

Good Samaritans who now attend to the siblings stated that they lack necessities and are traumatised by the situation. 

So bad is the situation that the 17-year-old at some point threatened to commit suicide as she could not take it anymore.  

Concerned residents called on good Samaritans to assist the siblings with necessities and for the government to put the other three sisters, who are day scholars, in a hostel.

Absent parents  

This reporter contacted both parents, who both left in search of work. The father said he is stationed at a farm near Windhoek, while the mother said she is somewhere between Tsumeb and Otavi.

Although the two are no longer together, they both refuted claims that they barely send anything back home. They, however, indicated that if there are good Samaritans willing to assist their children, they are welcome to do so.

The father promised to make a turn home at the end of this week, and as for the mother, towards the end of the month.


The gender equality ministry office in the constituency conducted a social investigation on the case and recognised the household as a child-headed household.

“We are in the process of registering them with the grant. We have also identified that one of them has a disability; we are also in the process of taking that one to the doctors so that they can assess her and we can get a medical report, and then we can also register her for the disability grant,” said Ndapunikwa Mathias, a designated social worker at the office.

She added that they are also collaborating with other stakeholders, such as the education ministry, IntraHealth Namibia, and the constituency office, to ensure the destitute sisters are taken care of.

“It’s a village that is trying to live up to our role and social responsibility, so we really appreciate the community for bringing this to us because, like we say, a child is a Namibian child, and we are all having a social responsibility towards these children,” she stated.

*Stefanus Nambara is an information officer at MICT Kavango West.