The festive season offers an opportunity for people to spend quality time with their loved ones. It is also a time when people share their resources, time and love with the less privileged in society.
But what does Christmas mean to those who do not have a roof over their heads to call home, and to those who can hardly make ends meet?
“I don’t even know what to tell you madam, because I don’t even know how I will make it through this Christmas,” 26-year-old Michael Kawetu, who has been homeless for over ten years said. Kawetu, whose home is under the Wernhil Bridge, took a break from his daily hustle to share his experiences and to talk about what Christmas means to him. His parents died in a car accident when he was just one year old.
“My grandmother told me that I was also in that vehicle, which claimed the lives of my parents,” he says, trying hard to hold back emotions. “I grew up with my grandmother, who died in 2006,” says Kawetu, who was raised in Walvis Bay, but has roots in Otjinene in the Omaheke Region.
Kawetu, who begs for a living and depends on the kindness of strangers for survival, said on Christmas Day shops are closed, “So we don’t really look forward to Christmas, because there is nothing much that we can hope for, as the people who usually give us something are at home with their loved ones,” he says.
His friend, Ricardo Eiseb, has been on the streets for at least 15 years. “We sometimes go to the After School Centre in Katutura when there are events to keep ourselves busy. Other than that we just depend on handouts. I will appreciate anything that I get for Christmas, but I do not attach any sentimental value to it,” he says.
Unlike, Kawetu and Eiseb, 22-year-old Deon Geingob, who also survives by begging, said he looks forward to Christmas. “I’m going to the farm to be with my family,” he says. He further explains that Christmas is “the day that Jesus Christ was born”. Geingob says he will spoil himself rotten this Christmas, as he has saved over N$5000 that he collected from begging. “I beg during the day and I make around N$500,” Geingob revealed.
Sara Garoes says she will be celebrating her 71st birthday on December 16.
“I only have N$200, which I will use to buy a cake for my birthday,” she says with child-like excitement. Garoes, who lives in Hakahana, makes a living from selling herbs. From her meagre earnings she sustains five children and five grandchildren.
“My children do not work. They all depend on me. I don’t have much, but for Christmas I want a Christmas tree. It’s just so nice,” she says with a sweet grin on her face.