Sixteen-year-old Adolf Armandu installed a small solar-powered light to read his schoolbooks at night. He taught himself how to do electrical connections and regularly does so for his neighbours in the Babylon informal settlement where they live.
He wants to become an aircraft engineer in future. His friend and classmate, Boy, wants to become a scientist. They attend the Immanuel Shifidi Secondary School in the Katutura residential area, and are in Grade 9. Both like Physical Science and love school.
When they are not at school, the two cut and collect firewood to sell. “We spent about three hours every day to walk to and from the settlement to the weighbridge area, north of Windhoek, to cut wood,” Armandu said.
The youngsters have been collecting wood since the beginning of 2019, and get N$70 per pile. They use the money to buy food and school necessities.
Armandu lives in a two-room zink structure with his mother, Nangula, his older brother, and three-year-old nephew.
Their small piece of erf is neat, and has many plants in discarded plastic containers that Armandu planted. There is also a medicinal Moringa tree, as well as a climber plant that Armandu had shaped into a heart.
The family moved here from Okuryangava in 1995, and a few years later, Armandu’s father deserted the family.
His mom also collects firewood for money, and does odd jobs to get money for food. Their household did not receive any food donations from the government or private persons and/or companies since the Corona virus outbreak in March last year. Her attempts to get the N$750 grant as part of Corona relief efforts by government failed, and the last time they received Harambee Prosperity Programme food parcels was in 2018. Armandu said Corona is dangerous, but the outbreak has at least brought them free water. Before the municipality made water freely available in efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus, residents had to buy water, and some days had to do without it because of a lack of money.