A University of Namibia graduate is surviving on the generosity of his neighbours after he gave up his job due to Spinocerebellar ataxia.
The genetic disorder affects the cerebellum, a part of the brain vital to coordination of physical movement, and sometimes the spinal cord. This inherited condition worsens over time and causes specific problems with coordination, usually affecting the eyes and hands.
The 28-year-old Walde Leonard graduated with a Diploma in Animal Health at the Katima Mulilo branch in 2016. He got a job in 2017 as a veterinary nurse and left the job in 2018 after his condition worsened.
Leonard has since settled in Havana informal settlement in Samora Machel constituency, Katutura. He said his body began to weaken when he started working and decided to quit the job to save his life.
“I thought by resigning I will recover and continue working again to feed my other siblings who suffer from the same condition. I lost hope. I am now lavishing in poverty. I get food from the neighbour who is a police officer but not always,” he explained.
Leonard, who recently lost some of his belongings after flash floods in the area, narrated that he and his three siblings inherited the genetic disease from their father and are now suffering.
“We are four siblings and we are all suffering. We are two boys and two girls now. My two sisters are worse. We have already lost our last born due to the same condition. My other brother is doing nursing but he also started getting worse. We have no hope,” he repeatedly stated.
When New Era visited Leonard’s place, we found him eating the last two slices of bread which he said is his only meal for the day.
Due to his condition, he cannot stay far from the hospital, hence the decision by his parents to move to Windhoek.
“My parents are now taking care of my other siblings and because I am the firstborn, I can be on my own with them paying for accommodation only and I hustle for the food,” he said tearfully.
He said the disease has severely affected his physical movement.
“It causes problems with coordination and movement. I partnered with my fellow graduate and established a business producing wild spinach soup that was booming. But due to my condition, the business stopped. There was not enough marketing and my partner also lost hope. Now I have no income,” he said.
Leonard lives in Havana in a small cubicle that costs N$600 per month but he has no income.
“Although I applied for the disability grant years ago, I am still waiting for the government to recognise and approve my application form,” he explained.
He is now looking for specialists to better his condition so that he will be able to work again to support the siblings.
The regional councillor for Samora Machel, Nestor Kalola, also pleaded with the public to assist Leonard with food where they can as he struggles to have a meal while he is on medication.