Women Extend a Hand to Street Kids

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By Chrispin Inambao RUNDU Appalled by the rate at which some parents are dumping their children onto the streets of Rundu as if they were “puppies”, a group of four concerned young white women has resolved to come to the rescue of these unfortunate street children. LÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚©a Frugier, a trainee from France seconded to a developmental project Nam/335 by Lux-Development SA at Rundu, was so touched by what she saw that she joined forces with sisters Ilze and MadrÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚© MÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¼ller and Mardi Horn to tackle this ugly reality by the horns. The streets of Rundu and most specifically fuel filling stations and other market places at the northeastern town are favourite begging spots for these highly desperate children. Motorists filling up at service stations cannot miss this social malaise as meandering groups of sad-looking, barefooted children, some attired in rags, normally ask motorists if they could clean their windscreens for N$1 or N$0,50 to enable them to buy bread. For several years Mardi Horn, a compassionate young local woman of Afrikaner origin has been caring for three of these black children and she also supports countless others. The bespectacled Horn picked the near-surrogate children under her loving and tender care, whom she built a neat grass hut at Kehemu, from the streets where they were beggars after being neglected by relatives or cruelly deprived of parental care by death. One of the children she is looking after is 14-year-old Janu Pedro a student who is doing remarkably well in his classes, passing with flying colours at a senior secondary school at the town. The others are two young sisters Sirenga, 12, and her sibling 10-year-old Munonga. At the time Janu Pedro’s plight was brought to Horn’s attention the minor used to remove rubbish from the yards of mean civil servants who in turn paid him a pittance. Both his parents were apparently killed in a road accident and he was saved from virtual enslavement at a house in Tutungeni by Horn who took him into her care, paying for his school fees and buying him books, food and other daily basics. The same woman spotted Sirenga in 2002 while she was feverish and begging for money outside a supermarket at Rundu. She also assisted this child who in turn introduced her to her younger sibling who at the time equally survived through begging on the streets. “She (Sirenga) was a very tiny, little thing at the time I found her outside Cola Cola Supermarket, begging, while she appeared very sickly. Later on she brought the little sister and I realized the situation was exactly the same,” said Horn. This childless and compassionate woman who first came to Rundu when she was nine and is now 28 says, “I have been doing this out of my own pocket for the last five years. I buy them food, clothing, toys and pay for their schools fees.” When asked about the severity of the problem of street children, Horn was quick to say: “It’s bad, some people throw children onto the streets as if they were puppies.” As the foursome want to build a haven for the multitude of neglected street children at Rundu and from surrounding settlements, they say they have approached various donors including the Rundu Town Council for a plot, the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI), NG Kerk and from overseas the group intends to contact the charity Doctors Without Borders, most commonly known by its French acronym MSF, standing for MÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚©decins Sans FrontierÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚©s, and others for possible funding. NCCI was approached for assistance via Mohammed Bhamjee, who is the vice chairperson, while local business tycoon Harold Pupke-witz is also on their list of potential sponsors. Her Worship the Mayor of Rundu Town Sabina Mufenda is aware of this novel idea engineered by this group of selfless women. Once their project is realized the group intends to provide overnight shelter to abused street children and to women brutalized and traumatized by violent spouses. Despite the good intentions of the plan to assist scores of neglected children wandering around the streets, LÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚©a Frugier says their group will have to battle to get a piece of land on which to erect the envisioned shelter because “it’s difficult to get a plot in Rundu”. Horn said they are weighing two options – to either get a house to rent or to build one for the planned haven for abused women and children. Ilze MÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¼ller said the planned shelter is one that should have its doors open on a 24-hour basis so that “people can come in even at 2 o’clock in the morning”, and from where they could be housed temporarily and given information on how and where they could report their cases for corrective or even remedial action. “We don’t need a luxurious place,” remarked Fruger with a detectable French accent, while Horn, the group’s de-facto spokeswoman added: “all we need are the basics.” In terms of their material needs once their plan is approved and endorsed by the Management Committee of Rundu Town Council, the four women obviously trying to make a difference at the town were in unison saying they need Good Samaritans to assist them with funding for a shelter with all the basics and the necessary furniture, for instance a fully functional kitchen with a fridge, a stove, laundry room, bedrooms, as well as some blankets. The three women also said they were concerned about children from intact homes free-lancing as street children especially in the afternoon hours when their parents were at work. They complained that bogus street children are ill mannered, which makes some people unsympathetic to them and genuine street children who are really in need.