… Dumpsite feeds poverty-stricken
GROOTFONTEIN – Shack dwellers in the Otjozondjupa region have requested food assistance from the government as they currently feed from dumpsites.
One of the shack dwellers, Anna Marie Tseas who is an elderly woman, also accuses political leaders of only showing an interest in their welfare when they solicit votes.
“The government should provide us with relief food as we barely survive out here. When it is time to vote many cars drive up here with their passengers urging us to go and vote claiming our votes count and things will change, but they never change. Yes, we eat meat and drink Coke and Fanta at political party meetings but after elections we all end up back here,” she said.
Residents have resorted to drinking water from a burst pipe in the ground, while animals such as dogs and cattle, among others, also drink from the shallow murky water.
Due to the broken pipe’s proximity to the town’s raw sewerage outlet the area is swarming with flies and an array of insects.
The water is also used for cooking as well as for washing. “In order to bath we used to sneak into the cemetery and use the tap there, but it has now become impossible because we are chased away as soon as guards spot us, so we rely on this water pipe for all our water needs,” said Tseas.
“Primary education is now free and that is a very good thing but no child will attend school or be able to concentrate in a classroom if he or she is hungry and government should look into this. I have been living like this for years and have seen a rapid increase of children dropping out of school. It saddens me to see what could be our future leaders going through piles of rubbish every morning for something to eat,” said Tseas.
According to Godfrey Howaeb (19) poverty drove him from school to the dumpsite. “You cannot attend school on an empty stomach. Concentrating in class became impossible so instead of stealing I decided to come here where I sometimes find rotten food and torn-up old clothes and shoes from which, like many others, I sustain myself. Living like this is not easy because even dogs prefer being in the towns instead of trying their chances out here,” said the school dropout.
The saying that the early bird catches the worm is given credence as people allegedly wake up before 06h00 to go scavenge for what they consider the best of what the dumpsite has to offer.
Howaeb is but one of the many youngsters who can be seen rummaging through the mountains of garbage on a daily basis, some being are as young as 12 and 6 years.
“We fix and sell some of the items we find. On good days we might find pieces of metal and copper – these we sell at the scrap yard and we get up to N$30.00,” said the dumpsite scavenger.
By John Travolter Matali