School pleads for assistance to ‘stateless’ destitute children

Obrein Simasiku

Ondiamande Combined School, at Eheke in the Oshana Region, is pleading with government, including good Samaritans to come to the aid of 14 destitute children of whom five are school-going and who find themselves in abject poverty. The children are under the care of their elderly grandmother, who is also looking after her own two mentally ill elder children.

This was brought to Observer’s attention by Esther Nakale, a Life Skills teacher at Ondiamande, who said the livelihood of the family is painful, as she pleaded with to the government to at least take charge of the five school-going children to carter for their needs and possibly help them escape the wrath of poverty.

“These are brilliant learners, ever passing with flying colours despite the hardship they are facing daily of walking half-naked in torn clothes and without anything to eat; but still they make it to school, and perform exceptionally well, surpassing the privileged kids. We sometimes as teachers and school management, collectively assist with the little we can so that they are encouraged not to drop out,” she narrated.

“It is equally painful for us teachers, because we see how good and intelligent the learners are, but to think of the promising future that is likely to be destroyed due to lack of basic support, it hurts more. They are trying hard that school is their only way out of this sorry state, therefore what they need now is support from government and all of us,” added Nakale.

To make matters worse, none of the learners have birth certificates, including those at home. One of the learners is in Grade 9, two in Grade 6, One in Grade 5 and the youngest in pre-primary. “It is therefore very important that something is done urgently especially for the Grade 9 as he needs identity documents to accompany applications as he advances further. Without any documents he’s facing a bleak future,” she stated.

Nakale, said together with her colleagues, they were shocked and heartbroken when they recently visited the family’s homestead at a nearby village of Okathakamaguru of UukwiyuUushona constituency, where it was discovered that the thatched huts are falling apart, without doors. This is further compounded by rotten twigs, while the inside of the holed huts lays nothing apart from thin cloths, without beds and mattresses.

The kids, mainly maternal grandchildren of the elderly known only as Kuku Rachel, were abandoned at her house by her sons and daughter who have since vanished and their whereabouts unknown. Some of the children are from family members, who allegedly fled from the parents’ houses because of hunger, and sought refuge at Kuku Rachel, because it is apparently better, as they would eat something once a day than going for days without anything.

“It is really bad, the grandmother is of an advanced age, she is unable to do much, but only relies on the pension grant, which is insufficient. Her own children left apparently in search of better life, and never returned, those who came back only dropped their kids. Our plea as a school and community, is that these family needs to be assisted with basic food, clothes, blankets, uniforms and their huts to be improved to a better structure. Also they are in need of water as they rely on traditional well, which is not hygienic because they can’t afford to pay for piped tap water. The neighbours have also gotten tired of assisting her with water, because she (Rachel) allegedly does not contribute towards the bill,” pleaded the life skills teacher.

Photo: (caption1) Some of the rugged thatch huts which the family calls home.
Caption2….. The inside of one of the huts.

By Observer