“My name is Laeticia*, and I am 16 years old. I am in grade 10. I have three younger brothers and four sisters. My family lives in Uupopo, a shantytown in northern Namibia. Houses here are made of corrugated iron sheets. There are many people, young and old, and families who struggle to make a living. School is a good escape from the bad influences.
“My life is very complicated right now because I always think about the coronavirus, wondering when it will end. I am confused about when school will open again and if I will go to the next grade in the coming year or repeat Grade 10. I go through my notes at home so I do not forget what I learnt at school before the lockdown, but loud noises from makeshift bars around my house makes studying difficult.
“The hardest thing about not going to school is the absence of a teacher. At school, I listen to the teacher and ask questions. I am not gaining new knowledge, which means I am not advancing. If I forget what I have already learnt then I will no longer feel like I am learning.
“I have found a way to entertain myself through cooking to break the monotony of the day. From our small kitchen, I have learnt to make porridge, rice, beans, traditional spinach and macaroni. The kitchen is messy when I am done but I clean it up well.
“The days are long and I have time to help my mother sell sorghum and mahangu (millet) flour, from a table she sets up outside our house. Customers are few and we do not sell much as before, which has reduced my family’s income. We have no money to spend on anything else except food. Before the coronavirus crisis, my mother’s business stocked up well and our lives were improving; she sold sorghum and mahangu flour, dry and wild spinach, but restocking is a problem now and we are running out of items to sell.
“It worries me that corona cases are rising in Namibia. Since the outbreak, my family only thinks about survival, not growth or developing our lives. I saw my mother’s business grow after we received help from SOS Family Strengthening Program. I can now see it sliding down taking us back to the days of hunger and hardship; this scares me. In the coming days, I see corona cases increasing to levels that will terribly affect our survival. We will not be able to do business anymore, our products will not sell and we will lose the little hope we have left.”
*Name changed to protect the privacy of the child.
Laeticia and her siblings receive school fees support from the SOS Family Strengthening Program. SOS Namibia is also providing additional assistance in the form of food and hygiene packages to hundreds of vulnerable families like Laeticia’s, to help them cope with the effects of COVID-19 pandemic.
SOS Children’s Villages’ COVID-19 Response in Namibia
- Awareness raising sessions provided to children and staff to prevent the spread of virus and identify symptoms.
- Each village program location is equipped with an isolation room for any suspected cases and has allocated a response team to handle suspected cases.
- Personal protective equipment consisting of disinfectants, sanitizers and disposable masks were provided at program locations and offices for children, young people and co-workers.
- SOS Village programs are provided with additional household allowances to ensure sufficient food supplies.
- SOS staff are in contact with schools to receive education related information and activities for the children to complete at home.
- Laptops were made available to SOS family houses for the children to use for study purposes.
- Each SOS family house was provided with board games consisting of several games in one to keep the children busy.
- Vulnerable families are being provided with food and hygiene packages.