Sickly woman lives in destitution


Selma Ikela

Windhoek-A 44-year-old woman who has a condition that causes excessive fluid build-up in her abdomen lives in sheer destitution at the corrugated-zinc sheet informal settlement called Soviet at Ombili.

Lihongeni Neonga, 44, was diagnosed with chronic ascites. Because of her condition Neonga visits hospital on a weekly basis for the excess fluid to be removed from her abdomen. Nurses insert a long thin needle through her skin into her abdominal cavity to remove the fluid.

According to, fluid build-up inside the abdomen is known as ascites. Ascites usually occurs when the liver stops working properly.

Fluid fills the space between the lining of the abdomen and organs. People with cirrhotic ascites have a two-year survival rate of approximately 50 percent. Neonga’s condition has taken a toll on her.

Neonga was employed as a rubbish collector but became jobless after she got ill. Efforts are being made to put Neonga on a social grant.

Neonga lives alone in her small cluttered shack and relies on neighbours to provide her with food and fetch water.

She said her condition started towards the end of 2015. Initially her feet ached, her legs become lame and she experienced a bleeding nose. She also suffered from chest and back pain. Her stomach began swelling and she visited the hospital for a check-up. The doctor realized she had excessive water in her stomach. The water was removed.

Neonga said the doctor told her to stop consuming chilli, fatty foods and alcohol. She was advised to eat nutritious food.

However, Neonga cannot afford to buy the required healthy food as she is unemployed and heavily dependent on neighbours for food.

“I appeal to the nation to assist me in whatever manner they can. I need blankets for winter, food, warm clothes and transport money as I need to visit hospital every week,” said the mother of eight children.

Only Neonga’s last born, who is seven years old, lives in Windhoek, with her father. The rest of her children are in the north and only the eldest is employed – as a taxi driver.


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