28 February 2013

Namibia: Single Mothers Struggle to Keep Head Above Water

Keetmanshoop — The tale of single unemployed mothers struggling to make ends meet to raise and support their families is all too common in the dusty southern town of Keetmanshoop.

Anna Boois, a 36-year-old mother is able to scrape by, supporting her four sons with only love and dedication in a town where unemployment has become a way of life. She lives with her family in the Smarties location in a matchbox shack made from corrugated iron sheets that she scavenged from a landfill at Keetmanshoop.

Boois was spotted with her 13-year-old son, Edwin Boois, while they rummaged through trash in the nearby and relatively affluent Smarties location. The boy is a Grade 5 learner at Mina Sachs Primary School in Kronlein. Raising four children is no mean task, especially when you are the sole breadwinner and have to rummage through the garbage bins of retailers, affluent residences, offices, and other places for anything useful.

To make matters worse, her life took a turn for the worse when her husband got injured in a car accident and is now bedridden and constantly in need of medical attention. "Ever since my husband became injured in the back, we have not been able to make an income as I have to stay at home and take care of him. This has left us with no income," she said.

"We sometimes salvage discarded food and other items that would otherwise go to waste and use them to prepare meals for the kids to go to school or we sell some of the items," she said, displaying a brave smile.

She even got an old school bag for her son donated by a good Samaritan. Boois scavenges for anything discarded by the well off and often takes back home books, toiletries, newspapers, kitchenware, clothing, toys and more.

"Rather than contributing to further waste, we, in a way curtail pollution and reduce the volumes of waste in our town," says the mother of four. Boois' predicament is common in Namibia, where women often become the breadwinners for their families, unlike some of their male counterparts who turn to alcohol and drugs, sexual violence and even abandoning their families in the process.

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