No bed, no food, only God's grace

02 April 2019 | Social Issues

With no bed to sleep on, no food to eat and a mahangu field that is likely to yield no harvest this year, an elderly couple from Gcigco village in the Kavango West describe themselves as “dead poor”.

Namibian Sun came across the hopeless couple, Hilarius Hausiku (63) and his partner Beata Nepembe (54), who shared their ordeal.

The unemployed couple endure sleeping on the bare floor of their traditional hut, while being exposed to snakes. They eat one meal per day and survive on wild fruits. They travel two kilometres to fetch water and do not own livestock or poultry.

The couple said they are ashamed to walk around in the community, as they are afraid of being mocked because many people know of their poor lifestyle.

Speaking in Afrikaans, Hausiku said he is “dood arm” (dead poor), adding he has to “zula to survive” in order to take care of his family.

“I am dead poor. I have nothing, not even a single chicken,” Hausiku said.

Making reference to his one-hectare piece of land, Hausiku said his inability to fence it off has led to his neighbour's donkeys and cattle destroying his crops.

He said his remaining crop slowly but surely succumbed to the sun's heat and this year they are only going to survive by God's grace.

“There is no food for us this year. As you can see, our crops have turned yellow because of the sun, while most of it was eaten by donkeys and cattle belonging to fellow villagers,” Hausiku said.

“Nothing will come from this land this year, not even maize and melons. We will just hang in there and try to survive, hoping that one day our children will change our situation.”

Hausiku said his son, who is a cattle herder in the same community, sometimes brings them food home, but there is no guarantee that this will happen going forward.

Hausiku said he is waiting for his national identity document (ID), so he can benefit from government's pension grant.

He showed Namibian Sun a copy of his full birth certificate, as well as the receipt from the home affairs office in Rundu dated 5 November 2018.

Hausiku said he visited the home affairs office for collection of his ID in February, but was told it was not ready and that he should return this month.

Asked what impact the monthly grant will have on his life, Hausiku said he will be able to buy a cheap wooden bed, blankets, food and poultry.

“It will mean a lot to me and my family. We will at least be able to buy food and blankets, and eventually save up some money to buy a bed to sleep on,” he said.

Hausiku said he used to work as construction worker in Windhoek in 1974.

He returned to his village after the construction contract ended, and survived by doing odd jobs.

“I used to be one of those guys in the community whom you call to cut down trees and who could assist you with your fence, but now I am old and I can no longer do those heavy jobs,” he said.

The couple said they are looking forward to government assisting them through its drought relief programme this year.

The couple also called on Good Samaritans to assist them, saying any kind of assistance is welcome.


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