New Era (Windhoek)

Namibia: Senior Residents of Tsumeb Speak Out

Tsumeb — Senior citizens of Nomtsoub old age home in Tsumeb are unhappy with their living conditions, which they say are getting worse with each passing day.

"The home is fine but unbearably hot, when I get sick at night the only people I can wake are my fellow house mates and they are just as old as I am if not older. We all have to weather our sicknesses till morning," said a 72-year-old Erastus Naibeb. The matron of the home Magdalena Neises says the diet of the elderly comprises mainly of porridge with potatoes, tomatoes and onion soup with no meat. "Nomtsoub is home to 27 residents. They each pay N$150 a month, this is the money we use to buy them food and pay electricity bills and it is this same amount from which we get our salaries," says Neises, adding that the home is barely able to stay open and at times employees such as herself have had to dig deep into their own pockets to buy food for the elderly.

According to Joseph Murauli (66), conditions at the home are deteriorating with each passing year. "We pay N$150 each month, but when we get sick there is no transport to take us to a hospital. There is no hot water even during the winter and as far as blankets go, we have to buy our own. If you do not pay the N$150 you will not get food," says Murauli. Another resident Josephina Njuwaki aged 76 told New Era the food they eat is never good.

"The food does not even have cooking oil or meat and it is the same thing every single day. The worst part is that we have to get up and collect the food ourselves. We are getting too old with each passing day and that is becoming harder and harder to do. We do not even have soap to wash ourselves or our clothes, the matron leaves for home at 17h00 every day and then we are left alone to care for and help one another," Njuwaki says.

Another resident, Hendrik Hanadap, aged 81 says the food they are offered can best be described as made from recipes for disaster. Hanadap says this as another resident empties his untouched plate in a nearby bin. "God knows the food here only gives running stomachs and most of it ends up in the dust bin anyway," he says with a sigh of resignation. Gabriel Ndahafitah a resident who has been at the home for 16 years agrees that matters are not improving. "We like saying that white people are bad, however we blacks can be just as cruel if not worse," says Ndahafitah with a defiant glow in his eyes.

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