Despite Hardship, Little Tanja Dreams Big

31 Jan 2017 08:00am
By Paulus Shiku

USAKOS, 31 JAN (NAMPA) – While some children are privileged enough to go to school with a packed lunch box or pocket money to see them through the day, for others an empty stomach is the norm.
Some are forced to find ways of making money to feed themselves when they are expected to be playing and concentrating on school.
Those whose parents are unemployed or even destitute rely on school feeding programmes and the little food their parents manage to scrape together.
One such learner is the nine-year-old Tanja Tsuses from Usakos, who is in Grade 3 at Elifas Goseb Primary School.
Tanja loves English and Mathematics and dreams of becoming a nurse one day.
She lives with her mother, Biola Tsuses, in a shack without water or electricity in the Hakhaseb settlement.
Tanja’s 19-year-old sister does not stay at home.
Her father works on a communal farm and her mother survives by collecting and selling empty cans for recycling.
Biola, 50, makes less than N.dollars 500 a month.
In an interview at the school on Friday, the soft-spoken and shy Tanja told Nampa that not always having a meal is not strange.
“Sometimes we just go to sleep without eating. After school, I help my mother to collect cans so that she can give me money to buy bread.”
She relies on the school-feeding programme, as there is no food at home.
Loving education, Tanja said she also uses the little money they have to buy pencils, even though Government provides some stationery.
Her mother, who was busy at the dumpsite she has been making her living off for 16 years, confirmed her daughter’s story on Friday, but pointed out that Tanja’s father is very supportive.
She said when he gets paid, he immediately comes to see the little girl and gives her N.dollars 200.
Tanja also said her father bought her a full school uniform.
School records indicate she failed Grade 1 once but managed to pass with average marks and proceed to Grade 2.
Asked how she could be assisted, Tanja said she would appreciate casual clothes, books and food.
On Thursday, the Managing Director of Namibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR), Zelna Hengari donated food and clothes to Biola.
She also promised to build them a proper shack by next month.
Tanja's story is similar to that of many children at her school and across the rural areas and settlements of Namibia.
Such children sometimes fail because of the poverty they live in – many times because they go hungry and therefore struggle to concentrate in class.
School attendance has also been found to be poor in impoverished areas.
Despite these odds, Tanja is keeping her dreams alive and says when she grows up, she wants to build her family a decent house so they can move out of their shack.