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Pensioner raises seven undocumented grandchildren

2023-11-03  Festus Hamalwa

Pensioner raises seven undocumented grandchildren

ONGWEDIVA - A 70-year-old pensioner is raising her seven grandchildren after their fathers disappeared a couple of years ago.

“Both fathers are my sons, and I do not know their whereabouts nor the children’s mothers. These children depend only on my social grant,” said Dina Joseph.

Joseph, who hails from Omatunda village in the Ohangwena region, narrated that life has become tough in raising seven children and her 31-year-old mentally-challenged son.

She said both the son and grandchildren do not have national documents, and can thus not be registered for the government’s social grants. 

“Always, after receiving my social grant, I have no alternative but to spend it all on food and clothing for my grandchildren,” she lamented. 

Joseph furthermore battles with high blood pressure, and is constantly worried about who would take care of her grandchildren and son once she dies. 

New Era met the septuagenarian recently at the Helao Nafidi expo, where she was visiting the Home Affairs stall with her son and grandchildren in the hope of getting national documents.

Due to the high number of people from various villages looking for national documents, Joseph spent long hours in the queue.

She told this publication that they walked six kilometres to the expo venue, which took them two hours. While they waited to be helped, they were starving, as she did not have money to buy any food.  

Since Joseph does not know her children’s whereabouts, she tried to register the grandchildren in her family name. This, she said, was the best option for the children to be documented. 

However, Home Affairs officials said they could not assist because the children’s parents were alive.

“But I am not sure whether they are alive or not. I started crying in the presence of the officials, but they showed no sympathy or empathy. It is painful,” she stated sadly.

One of her sons left in 2017, and the other in 2021.

Joseph said one of her sons, who is the father of four of her grandchildren, left them with her after he allegedly broke up with his girlfriend.

“He told me that he was going to look for a job. Since then, he has not communicated. I don’t even know where their mother is,” she continued.

Joseph said she made public announcements on various radio stations in search of her sons, but to no avail. 

“While at the expo, my mentally-impaired son did not get a birth certificate because we could not provide a baptism certificate,” she added.

Her son is on medication, and requires it daily.

“I spent a lot of money whenever I go to collect his medication. It is very risky if he misses his medication,” she noted.

Her grandchildren also need social grants, like other vulnerable children.

Only four of her grandchildren are in school now.

Approached for comment, the public relations officer in the Ministry of Home Affairs Aina Simon said if the parents of a child are alive, then it is not possible to register them under someone else’s name.

She said Joseph may notify the ministry of gender equality to locate the parents of the children.

“If the gender equality ministry does not find the parents, then it must write us a letter so that we can allow Joseph to register the children in her name,” Simon added.

Contacted for comment, upset gender equality minister Doreen Sioka expressed her disappointment in the Home Affairs’ officials who are punishing the children in such a roundabout way.

She thus advised Joseph to acquire an official letter from the traditional authority as a declaration that the parents of the children were nowhere to be found.

“She must then take that official letter to Home Affairs so that the children acquire birth certificates. The children deserve birth certificates so that they can start receiving social grants,” Sioka stressed.

The minister further advised Home Affairs' officials not to fill in the part of the children’s parents in the birth certificate, because they might be found.

“I would like to thank this determined pensioner for taking care of her grandchildren,” she added.

New Era then reached out to Oukwanyama spokesperson Andrew Naikaku, who said they are willing to assist Joseph with an official letter for the children to acquire national documents. 

“Mekulu Joseph must go to the headman, and acquire an official letter. It is very sad to raise children without birth certificates,” he added.  -

2023-11-03  Festus Hamalwa

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