Surviving in Windhoek’s informal settlements

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Alvine Kapitako

Windhoek-Fifty-one-year old Iyaloo Andreas describes herself as old, poor and sickly and readily admits she finds it hard to make ends meet.

“I used to sell kapana, but I stopped when I was diagnosed with high blood pressure and HIV in 2008. I am too old to be employed. Imagine how young people struggle to find employment. How much more for an old woman like me?” Andreas, who lives in the Cuba section of the Havana informal settlement, remarked.

Andreas, who spoke of the daily struggles to survive in informal settlements, said when she goes to the clinic to get her medication people also refer to her as an old woman and thus she believes her chances of being formally employed are slim.

“I sell ombike for a 250 ml bottle. People don’t always pay when they buy on credit, some even insult me for asking for my money,” said Andreas, who lives with five other people, including her 17-month-old granddaughter.

“Sometimes I go to the office of the councilor to assist us with food, especially when times are really hard, she added. Regarding the cold, she said they have to do with what they have to keep the cold at bay. “We have to wear many jerseys, because it’s cold. What else can we do?” she asked.

According to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), there are about 210,000 Namibians living with HIV and the HIV prevalence rate among adults is 13.3 percent.

“I want to encourage people, especially the youth, to get used to using condoms whenever they engage in sexual activities. Also, it does not mean that when you are HIV positive it is the end of you,” Andreas advised.

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