WINDHOEK – A visually impaired graduate who specialised in retail marketing management is of the view that people living with disabilities are still considered with much doubt when seeking employment even if they were accorded the same opportunities and training as anyone else.
Twenty nine-year old Johannes Tjitumba, who lost his eyesight to measles at the age of five, completed his studies in December last year at Limkokwing University in Botswana and was among 14 students with various disabilities who went to study with a sponsorship from the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF).
The group to Limkokwing University comprised of visually impaired students, wheelchair users and physically challenged persons. They studied various courses such as marketing, travel tourism, radio and television broadcasting.
Tjitumba and his fellow graduates studied in Botswana between 2015 and 2018. They are back in the country and seeking employment but so far the journey has been challenging. Tjitumba feels that the earlier they find jobs the better.
“I am at home. I am not supposed to be here. I am supposed to be engaged in society with different activities but due to unemployment and the current economic situation I am at home without a job and depression is killing me, which is a big challenge,” Tjitumba added.
Tjitumba stated that when they left for their studies NSFAF informed the public about their departure but when they returned they did not tell the public that they obtained qualifications. He says it is not NSFAF’s responsibility to search for employment for graduates but people with disabilities are suffering.
“I was trained like everybody else, I attended the same classes with those without disabilities. The skills and knowledge acquired is the same as anybody’s. Being doubted only contributes to the discrimination against people with disabilities,” said the confident Tjitumba, who also urged the media to create awareness that they are back in the country and seeking employment.
For Tjitumba, landing a job will be a great deal as he is the only university graduate among his six siblings. He said none of his siblings are employed. “As I said, being from Ruacana, people there are marginalised and people were not exposed to education. They believed in farming and things are only changing now,” he added.
“I will be a breadwinner if I find employment. To be honest, it will be great for my dad. He has been supportive ever since my childhood although he is now getting old, he is in his 70s. He no longer has the energy to hunt something for me. So, it is now time for me to take care of him and it will be done when there is a job,” Tjitumba said.
Tjitumba attended Eluwa special school and continued his schooling at Windhoek Technical High School. He then proceeded with his studies by doing a course at the former Polytechnic of Namibia, now Namibia University of Science and Technology (Nust), in small and medium enterprises before going for further studies in Botswana.
Asked how he currently survives, Tjitumba said he receives a N$1 250 disability grant monthly. He pays N$1 000 for rent and the remaining N$250 he either uses to buy food, toiletries or clothes, among others.