Rain brings misery for homeless ‘struggle kids’

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Windhoek

A 35-year-old woman born during the liberation struggle wept profusely yesterday as she spoke of her life of suffering and misery after the rain left her tent damaged and their clothes soaked.

An emotional Lita Simon, who hails from the Ohangwena Region, sobbed uncontrollably as she showed her few soaked belongings to reporters who went to check up on how the rain affected the so-called “struggle kids”, who are camping at the Swapo Party headquarters in Windhoek.

Sweetie, as she is affectionately known by her peers, and her 16-month-old daughter came from the north about four months ago to join the more than 200 struggle kids in Windhoek, who are waiting on the government to give them jobs.

The rather petit-looking Simon and her daughter until recently did not have the luxury of a bed or a tent. At night the two stayed awake seated on a small chair, while others had a good night’s sleep.

“I only got the tent on Saturday. I used to sit on this chair while others sleep. I don’t have parents. My parents died in Cassinga and now I have to fend for myself,” she said as she wiped her tears away, while some among her group laughed at her situation.

The heavy rains had damaged her tent and a male comrade came to her assistance to help to repair it. After the heavy downpour on Sunday the struggle kids could be seen repairing and improvising with some of the broken materials.
Those whose blankets and clothes were totally soaked hung their wet belongings on the fence at Swapo headquarters. When the rain eventually stopped for a while yesterday, they used the opportunity to make alterations to their tents and the surroundings.

Several of the group of unemployed youth surrounded Simon as she poured her heart out. “I don’t have a mother or father. I look after myself. Everything is drenched. Even my baby that I am carrying on my back only has a light vest on, as her clothes are wet,” she said repeatedly, as tears streamed down her gaunt cheeks.

Sweetie depends on fellow struggle kids for literally everything: “Even this soap I got from the people here,” she says as she shows what is left of the little bar of soap. She explained that she also gets food from her comrades, but she desperately wants employment, even a cleaning job, to be able to look after herself and her three children.

Another 26-year-old mother, Lydia Dumeni, found her tent under water when she returned from collecting boxes at a local shopping centre to use in her tent. This reporter found Dumeni placing her tent on pallets to raise it higher. Her six-month-old baby was given clothes to wear by some of the group members as the child’s clothes also got wet in the rain. “I will just sleep in the open tonight. My clothes and blankets are all wet,” she said stoically.

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