People at Noordoewer, who identify themselves as “struggle kids”, are pleading with government for jobs, saying they do not want their frustrations to turn them into unruly individuals, like their counterparts in Windhoek.
The group of 22 hails from Ohangwena, Otjozondjupa, Omusati, Kunene and //Karas regions and say they have heeded government’s call to stay home, while the authorities work out a plan for them and they are waiting patiently for government to provide them with jobs.
The group moved to Noordoewer after an agreement by Karasburg West Constituency Office and the Namibian Exile Kids Association (Neka), which is aimed at assisting the struggle kids to find jobs at the grape farms for now, while they wait on government.
The 22 are employed as seasonal workers by Sonop and Corner Stone, while a further 11 are waiting to be employed by Namibia Grape Company (NGC) by the beginning of September.
Although the group members are content with their temporary jobs, despite – according to them – being paid low wages, they say they are hopeful government will assist them by recruiting them into different ministries.
“This is just a temporary arrangement, so that we are able to buy our basic needs, such as soap,” said one.
The group indicated that they would not seek to hold government hostage, but are pleading with government to give them permanent jobs, even as cleaners, as they believe permanently employment comes with benefits.
While some called on government to provide them with basic training in various courses, so they can enhance their skills and employability, others would have none of that, saying they only need jobs, as they do not have time for school anymore.
“I don’t want to go to school. I just want a job. My child is at school and now you want me to go to school again?” asked an irate Maria Shikalepo.
She also requested government to provide transport to take them to hospital when they get sick and a bus to take them home when they want to visit their families, as the money they make is not enough to cater for transport to the north.
“The money we all get is not enough. It is too little to pay for transport from here. What will you give your parents if you spend everything on transport? she asked rhetorically.
Karasburg West Constituency Councillor Paulus Efraim, the man behind the programme, told New Era during a telephonic interview that he came up with the idea in an effort to assist government to accommodate the so-called ‘struggle kids’, especially those that do not meet the criteria for jobs in government due to lack of educational qualifications.
He said most of the group do not meet many of the requirements to enter the defense force, or other government positions and thus he decided to engage companies in his area to assist by providing jobs to those willing to work on the grape farms.
He said the main aim is to find the unemployed people something to do, instead of leaving them sitting idly at home, or engaging in destructive activities.
“All we’re saying is they can’t just sit down and do nothing. We need to find them some sort of employment. We can’t just leave them like that,” he stressed.
Efraim says despite the challenges – such as accommodation – the plan is to secure employment for as many of the group as possible. He believes this would help them sustain themselves, while those that meet the formal requirements for jobs can apply when opportunities open up.