19 November 2012

Namibia: No Future Without National Documents

THREE Zemba families living in the Kilimanjaro informal settlement on the outskirts of Windhoek have no national documents.

The families have 11 children between them and neither the parents nor the children are in possession of identity documents or a birth certificate. What complicates matters even more is that the parents are not sure of their own birth dates or those of their children. They do not speak English and cannot read or write.

Hilya Nambinga from Hope Initiatives Southern Africa in Namibia (HISA), who runs a community centre in Kilimanjaro, said they met one of the families and their children recently and took them into the centre. Four of the children are now attending the centre’s preschool and seven are in the Youth Live Skill Literacy Programme.

The programme teaches children basic English, literacy and numeracy skills to prepare them for mainstream schools.

“These children have never been to school and their ages range from four years to 16. They are completely illiterate,” said Nambinga.

The problem HISA faces is that mainstream schools require a birth certificate or a Namibian ID to enrol children.

“This is very difficult as the parents don’t even have the necessary documents themselves,” said Nambinga.

Kayowo Mbawe, a mother of four, said they never needed any documentation when they lived in their village near Ruacana, but now they need documents in order to give her children a better future.

“People also tell us that without documents we are not real Namibians and this hurts as we are part of this country,” said Mbawe.

She cannot go to Home Affairs as she cannot fill in the necessary forms to apply for the documents.

She moved to Windhoek as life in Ruacana had become increasingly difficult for the family and now she is appealing for Home Affairs to help her and her children get the necessary documents so they can go to school.

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