Life off the dumpsite

31 Dec 2016 13:20pm
By Petrus Muronga
WINDHOEK, 31 DEC (NAMPA) – While some are on holiday and enjoying the festive season, a group of Babylon informal settlement residents are sifting though garbage to trade in for recycling and other valuables to sell.
Speaking to Nampa during a recent visit to the Havana dumpsite near Fidel Castro Primary School, a resident said they scavenge from as early as 05h00.
Twenty-seven-year old Nepemba Karupu hails from the Kavango East Region and said she came to Windhoek for a better life in the capital but things turned out differently for her.
She said the group of about 10 to 20 women and children come in the mornings to look for clothes, bottles, cans and even food.
“This is where we survive from my brother, we wake up in the morning to come at the site hoping to get enough cans and any other thing such as bottles for us to sell and buy at least bread for our children and soap,” said the mother of two as the sun rose behind her back.
Another resident and 30-year-old mother of three from the Omusati Region, Nuusiku Nanyemba, said life has been tough for her ever since she lost her job at a security company where she was employed as security guard on a casual basis.
“Life has been hard ever since I lost my job which was the only source of income for me and my children,” said Nanyemba while sifting through the garbage full of empty wine bottles and rotten food.
By 10h00, the hot Namibian sun is bright and scorching and the fumes from garbage can not only be smelled but also seen all over the dumpsite, while the women and children dig with hope.
This is not the only venue where residents of informal areas come to scavenge for items they can salvage.
A 36-year-old resident of Kilimanjaro informal settlement, Sakeus Witbooi told Nampa he comes to the City of Windhoek (CoW) garden refuse and building rubble disposal site behind the B1 road to collect metals such as copper and aluminium for him to sell to scrapyards.
He said the site feels like his second home because it has been the place where life has become a little better than begging for money on the streets.
“Collecting these copper pieces and other metals has become my life because at least when you sell these pieces you can be able to get money to buy for yourself soap and some food,” said Witbooi.
With the 2016 festive season approaching its closure with a New Year’s Eve celebration all around Namibia, it is important to note the message behind President Hage Geingob’s Christmas message.
“As we celebrate with our families and loved ones, let us be reminded that this is the season to reflect on how we treat strangers in our midst. There is no purpose to kindness, love or charity if it is only extended to those we know or those who speak our language or look like us.”
The president altogether called for Namibians to “Harambee” and put their hands together in the war on poverty.