Dawbies in Africa

INFORMAL SETTLEMENTS

21 Nov 2012

 

An earlier blog made reference to the work we are undertaking with Family of Hope Services (FHS). We continue to spend one morning a week working with FHS who serve the communities of Hakahana & Havana (otherwise known as the “Informal Settlements”).

Havana (notice the "tent school" in the background)

Some 100,000 people live in the Informal Settlements of Windhoek. This is a depressing & disturbing place. People live in tin shacks or shanties, often with nine people or more living in each dwelling. For the majority of shacks, electricity & water is not connected & there are no toilets within the dwellings.

Homes on the hill

There are communal toilets & water points scattered throughout the community however about 20 dwellings share each toilet & water point. As we drove around we saw people urinating on the side of the road & children squatting down at the dry riverbed.

Residents can purchase a water token from the local council, which enables them to purchase water on site at one of the pumps. They then have to carry their large water containers back to their homes.

Community Member showing us how to use the water token to fill his Jerry Can. Note the communal toilet in the background. 

We visited the local market where we saw a carcass of meat being cut up. There was no refrigeration evident & there were at least 50 flies covering the meat. No attempt was being made to keep the flies away. Around the corner we saw meat hanging up on a line drying.

Meat drying out on a line

There were many Shebeens (read grog shops) scattered throughout the community.  Many men are unemployed & often the women try & keep the household together & bring in some income however they can. There may not be money to purchase food for the children, however there is always money to purchase grog for the men to help them fill in the day.

Kate & two of the senior leaders from FHS inside a Shebeen. Note the drink in question was non-alcoholic & made for the local children   

As you can appreciate crime is a real issue.  The residents may not have much, but what they have is often the target of others. The community continues to grow as new residents move in & construct their dwellings. What was the outer border last week, might be quite different in a fortnights time!

The backyard of one of the homes

It would not be safe for “whites” to drive around this area on their own, however we were fortunate to be with two of the leading figures at FHS so we were in good hands. With the weekly staff meeting & Bible Devotion now over, these two ladies generously took Kate & I for a 90 minute guided tour of the informal settlement area. Despite all the difficulties surrounding this part of Windhoek, our dear sisters always have a smile on their faces & a joke to share!     

No sealed roads, civic services or gardens here!

FHS has a substantial feeding program (Monday to Friday) to ensure the local children receive at least one nutritious meal per day. Many children are under direct sponsorship of overseas supporters who contribute a monthly fee to assist meeting the basic necessities of life (including food, school supplies & medical care).

HIV / AIDS is very much in the community with eighteen of the sponsored children being HIV positive.

Our contribution one morning a week might not add up to much but every little bit helps! We have been fortunate to spend a lot of time with the founder of FHS who works very long hours for a very nominal wage. Her husband is an AOG Pastor. We thank God for the people that we have had the privilege of meeting during our time in Namibia. Their lives, witness & ministry humble us. 

(www.familyofhopeservices.org)

Sprawling shanties of the Informal Settlement area