NKURENKURU – A San family from Kavango West’s Mpungu constituency continues to languish in abject poverty. The family of three, including a five-year-old child, sleep in one of the wooden structures that only has wooden poles on the sides and with a bit of grass and a huge plastic sheet on top.
The head of the family, Josef Hamukanda, who was struggling to speak as he was emotional, said they struggle a lot, and that life is a harsh reality for them. “We struggle a lot to survive. There is no food, there are no blankets or any other household items,” he said as tears started to well up in his eyes.
“There are no containers to fetch water
in, unless you have to borrow. And when they take it back, you just sit and do nothing unless you fetch it in bottles,” added Hamukanda’s wife, who identified herself as Miliam Nkasi. Due to the condition of the structure they dwell in, when it rains, especially during the night, they have to wake up and seek cover elsewhere as they have nowhere to hide, unlike during the day when they can at least seek refuge at nearby cuca shops.
“You sit on the side where it is better, but if it comes with the wind, then we just stay like that and get wet until it stops raining,” Nkasi said woefully. The ramshackle structure also makes them vulnerable to snakes that could slither in at any time, and goats would also at times cause havoc to the little food they store in their dwelling.
The family does not have proper blankets, therefore share a single sheet on pieces of a torn mattress. As these conditions make them more vulnerable to cold weather during winter, Hamukanda said as a gentleman who has his family’s wellbeing at heart, he improvises to at least keep them warm.
“He collects firewood and lights a fire so that he sleeps on the other side while I sleep on the other side. He would give me, the wife, the sheet to cover myself with it while he covers himself with a sack,” narrated Nkasi, as her husband nodded in agreement. The unemployed pair say eating every day has also become difficult for them as they do not have enough food.
Although they are beneficiaries of government’s relief food programme meant for the San people, they get most of their food from doing casual work at other people’s houses as no one offers them free food, even when they are really hungry. When this reporter visited the family last week, they said that they did not have anything for lunch, adding that the last time they ate was some three days ago. They are now asking for Government and Good Samaritans to come to their rescue.
“They must assist us with food, a mattress, corrugated iron sheets, a proper room to sleep in, mosquito nets and other household items. We are really suffering,” said Nkasi.
Hamukanda has a Namibian identification document (ID) card showing he will turn 52 years this year, whereas his wife Nkasi, who could not remember her age, claimed she only has a voter’s card, which is currently with a custodian. She has not tried to acquire national identification documents, claiming that there is no one to take her to a place to do that.
Meanwhile, Mpungu constituency councillor Titus Shiudifonya said he was not aware of the family’s plight, but promised that he will visit them to assess the situation and see how they can be assisted.
He urged village development committee (VDC) members to always inform his office of such situations in their villages in order for the office to act on it, as they have done in other villages.
“If VDC members are not identifying such people and informing us, it is going to be very difficult for us because they are the eyes and ears of the constituency office,” he stated. Any assistance to the family can be made through the constituency office. Mukonda village is located 30 kilometres south-west of Mpungu village on the way to Tsintsabis.