TOINI Mathew's life was turned upside down about two years ago when her brother, Simion Boysen, died after doctors had removed his intestines in what the family claims was a botched operation.
Ever since Simion's death, Toini (19) has been wearing her brother's clothes and writing letters to him.
Simion (13), was in Grade 7 at the People's Primary School in Katutura when he died from severe stomach pains which had started afflicting him at four.
When The Namibian visited the family at their Havana home yesterday, Toini was lying helplessly on a sofa while her mother, Erikka Ndeyanale, was sitting. She was wearing a 'Shrek' Disney character T-shirt and blue overalls that once belonged to Simion.
The teenager has lost weight and could not talk about Simion initially after tears welled up in her eyes before cascading down the cheeks. Toini excused herself and disappeared into another room where she spent some minutes.
When she returned, Toini said: "The boy everyone is talking about, was my little brother."
Despite efforts to keep her eyes dry, tears still welled up and ran down her cheeks.
"I wear his clothes so I can feel close to him. He was my room-mate, and my best friend," she said, adding that she was not coping without Simion.
"I write him letters and cut out pictures of soccer players for his file. He was a huge soccer fan. He loved the Brave Warriors.
"I miss staying up talking, singing with him. I have no one to talk to now," Toini said, crying softly.
She recalled how children from the neighbourhood would flock to their house after school to seek help from Simion.
"We had dreams together, what will I do without him," she sobbed. "I need professional help. I have trouble sleeping, most nights I cry myself to sleep."
Toini did not do well in Grade 10; her mother could not afford to pay her fees for her to repeat in 2015 because that was when Simion was critically ill.
Fortunately for Toini, NamWater has taken her in their office and administration training programme.
For her to attend that, the family has to raise N$1 650 for registration and N$5 500 for accommodation since the training will be at the NamWater HR development centre near Okahandja.
Ndeyanale, who used to sell kapana but is now unemployed, said she cannot afford the fees and appealed to well-wishers to assist.
"I sold my sewing machine. I lost my kapana business while attending to my son," she said.
Sobbing uncontrollably, Ndeyanale recalled how during his last days, Simion would beg the doctors to help him.
She said Simion would plead: "Doctor, please help me. If I grow up and study, I will pay you back. Please, I'm in pain."
The ordeal, Ndeyanale said, left her with a big wound in her heart.
"I watched my child die in my house. It was not easy," she said.
The mother, however, recalled how strong Simion was. There were times when she had no money and Simion would walk to school.
"Imagine someone in such pain, with dead organs in his body. I cannot even imagine how long they had died, is it when he was younger, or later, she lamented," she sobbed.
She also recalled that people would call and tell her that Simion was lying in the streets after he had collapsed while on the way to school.
"I hope that what happened to me does not happen to anyone else. What I suffered and the emotional wound I experienced is too big," she said.
Albertina Shoombe, Simion's aunt, said negligence killed her nephew.
Holding up Simion's picture, Shoombe said: "Look how handsome he was. Imagine what he would have done to help his mother if he had grown up."
Shoombe said they had all hoped that God would heal them, because Jeremiah 29:11 says: I have good plans for you, not plans to hurt you, I will give you hope and a good future.