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Social Reflections - Communicating honestly and directly

2020-04-01  Selma Ikela

Social Reflections - Communicating honestly and directly
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Several large families in the informal settlement said practising social distancing is not possible to enforce in some poor houses occupied by several people.
New Era visited several homes, where up to 15 people reside in a shack in Windhoek’s informal settlements.

Families say practising social distancing is a challenge when a large family shares small space in their shacks.
   Also, some of these families are informal traders and earned their income from selling on the streets and open markets to feed their large families. 

Although she understands the need for the lockdown, kapana seller from Okahandja Park informal settlement Alina Mwandingi (50) said her family of 15 will suffer, as she is the only breadwinner at home; none of her children is employed.

Of the 15 people, nine are Mwandingi’s biological children, a relative and four of her late sister’s children whom she is caring for. 
Mwandingi sells cow heads as kapana at a nearby bar.
She buys the heads for N$200, from which she makes N$100 profit.
The next 21 days will be miserable, she said.

“It will be difficult to provide for this large family. I have to use the money I had put aside to feed them since they will be home every day for the next 21 days,” she said.
 Another informal trader Fillemon Nghishitivali, who heads a house of ten people in Oohambo dhaNehale in the Havana informal settlement, said it is difficult for a large family to adhere to social distancing. 
“We cannot really keep a social distance in this house – it is not like I have somewhere to go; it is difficult,” said Nghishitivali, a barber, who also owns a fruit and vegetable stall in Grysblock.
He has since brought the perishable goods from his stall to sell from home.  

His wife Maria Frans sells grilled sausage and fat cake at a local supermarket, and she is now grounded.
Nghishitivali said for the next 21 days, he will lose an income of N$6 000 from his fruits and vegetable stand and N$3 000 from his barbershop. He also expressed concern that his perishable stock will go stale.
“We are facing tough times, and I don’t know how we will survive. Since Saturday, I have not made any income. With a large family like this, it will be difficult,” said Nghishitivali, adding they will survive like birds in the sky.

A neighbour to Nghishitivali is kindergarten owner Josephine Nelenge, who accommodates 14 people in her home.  She takes care of about seven of her relatives’ children, apart from her three biological children.

Since the closure of schools, her kindergarten also closed, depriving her family of an income.
 “Its month end now but the kindergarten is closed, so no payment from parents,” said Nelenge.
Brendin Witbooi looks after 12 people in Okahandja Park. Space is limited for this large family and they share a small sitting room. They do not have electricity, a toilet or running water. Witbooi said, “if the police find you walking in the street while going to the riverbed to relieve yourself, it is a problem”.

Leader in Okahandja Park Ishmael Mbekele, who has a family of 13, stated they might need help from government – incentives to re-start their businesses after the lockdown, and he is using his savings to provide for his family. He said another issue is water, which they are supposed to get for free from City of Windhoek, but their units are not enough.

2020-04-01  Selma Ikela

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