Family of 15 rely on N$1 000 salary

EFANO: Matthew Palata OVA TALA ASHIKE MUYE … Elizabeth Mayinga Vindindo (35) okwa kanifa omonakadona weedula nhatu eshi ta kufeekelwa kutya okwa lya oikulya i na oudiyo. Vindindo okwa ti oye ashike e na oiyemo mofamili yovanhu 15.

Kavango East resident Elizabeth Mayinga Vindindo (35) feels like a dark cloud is hovering over her.

Vindindo just buried her daughter, Helena Maliro Muhembo (3), who died of suspected food poisoning at Modern village, also known as Bagidadi, in the Ndonga Linena constituency.

Last month, the little girl had shared a meal of traditional cassava roots (muanza) gravy with family members.

Kavango East regional crime investigations coordinator deputy commissioner Bonifasius Kanyetu confirms the incident and says investigations are underway.

Although the family comprises 15 members, six shared the meal that landed them in hospital.

The roots were from a tree uprooted at a family member’s home to make way for the construction of a house.

The family usually uses the leaves of the tree to prepare a relish.

The affected family members included two women aged 60 and 22, three boys aged 10, seven and four and Helena.

The family was rushed to Nyangana District Hospital for treatment a week ago after they started vomiting.

Helena died on arrival at the hospital, while the other affected family members were transferred to the Rundu State Hospital.

When the incident happened, Vindindo says she was working away from home at Rundu.

She says the family has no one else to count on as she is the only person who works.

Her domestic worker’s salary varies between N$700 to N$1 000 a month, which must suffice to feed all 15 members of the family.
Vindindo says on 11 June she was planning to go home to the village. Earlier that day she had spoken with members of the family at around 17h00 after they had dinner, including Helena.

Two hours later, she was informed that some family members had to be rushed to the hospital.

Upon her arrival, she received the news that Helena had died and the rest of the affected family were transferred to the hospital at Rundu.

Vindindo says the mourning period was very difficult, although the family received assistance from a councillor in terms of food, help with administrative work and a tent which was used during the memorial services.

Vindindo says she has been greatly affected by not having any national documents.

Her mother cannot claim a state pension due to the lack of documents, Vindindo adds.

Moreover, Vindindo says her mother benefits from the drought relief programme only “by God’s grace”.

She says the Village Development Committee (VDC) and village headman have shown mercy on her mother by registering her for drought relief aid because they have known her for so long, even though she was denied several times due to not having national documents.

She says her mother receives one bag of maize meal, but what will it help for a family of 15?

According to Vindindo, even after Helena’s death she can see no positive change as people are afraid to help the family after the food poisoning incident.

“When it comes to education, my siblings and my children are facing many obstacles,” Vindindo says.

They do not have proper school shoes and wear sandals to school. They also do not have the correct uniforms and have all been sent home by teachers due to this, she says.

DESPERATE … Some of the utensils the family use to prepare their meals. Photos: Matthew Palata

Some of the children are delayed in terms of their education, due to financial complications, she says.

And all of them depend on her, she adds.

According to Vindindo, the family of 15 live in one corrugated shack, including a room in which both boys and girls sleep.

She says they do not have a proper structure to cater for the entire family.

She adds that they are freezing in the current winter conditions because they do not have adequate blankets.

Even the rainy season is a problem as the house leaks when it is raining, she says.

She pleads with any good Samaritans to assist the family.

Ndonga Linena constituency councillor Michael Kampota says he is aware of the family’s dire circumstances and his office has made arrangements to find a solution by providing documents to Anastasia Tjangano Matjayi (60) first, and then the other family members.

“We have identified those who are not in possession of national documents in the constituency, we will still follow the same process and programme, which is set in order for them to get documents,” Kampota says.

He urged the VDC and village leaders to identify legitimate vulnerable households, even those that do not meet the requirements, to try to help them to be registered.

He further says people must not eat food they are unsure of as it may put their lives in danger.

Mukwe constituency councillor and chairperson of the Kavango East Regional Council Damian Maghambayi says the regional council has not turned a blind eye to such incidents in the region.

He proposed that the health ministry runs an awareness campaign on hygiene and other health related matters in the community.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Home Affairs, Immigration, Safety, and Security’s deputy minister Lucia Witbooi has once again called on those who do not have identity documents to take advantage of the mass registration programme, the Namibia Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) reported over the weekend.

So far, 34 802 people have acquired national documents since the programme’s introduction since the campaign kicked off in February in all 14 regions. It ends in July.

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