Two mothers who are part of the Ondangwa family strengthening programme
Namibia – 31 August 2018

Life in a Namibian shantytown

In the Uupopo shanty town in Namibia children grow up in corrugated metal homes surrounded by poverty. Unemployment is desperately high and four out of five caregivers are single mothers. Families are struggling to access economic opportunities or education for their children.

The community is home to Anna - a mother of two who has taken in two more children from her extended family. SOS Children’s Villages has helped Anna and her business partner Frieda set up a community bakery which has provided them with a regular source of income and the means to support their families.

As the only bakers in Uupopo, Anna and her partner are doing a thriving trade. Before the women came up with the idea for their business, and approached SOS Children’s Villages for support, the residents of Uupopo were entirely reliant on far-away supermarkets.

Early each morning Anna criss-crosses her neighbourhood, braving the early morning heat to sell the bread to her neighbours. Around sixty percent of the bakery’s profits are shared by Anna and Frieda as a monthly salary, with the remaining forty percent used to buy supplies and save for investments.

It had always been Anna’s dream to be independent. “I am a business woman,” she says proudly. “I feel good.”

With the money she is making Anna has been able to install electricity in her house, so she no longer cooks with firewood and her children are not struggling to study by candlelight. The Ondangwa family strengthening programme is also helping the family with school fees, uniforms and learning materials for Anna’s four children.

“Before we started the business, many times we had nothing to eat in the morning and sometimes no dinner. Today, we don’t go hungry and I don’t have to send my children to school in torn clothes,” Anna tells us.

But Anna has greater ambitions. She is eager to learn how to use a computer because, as she states in her typical no-nonsense way, “You can’t be a business woman without those skills”. She is also learning to drive.

“Now my kids don’t want to live in our small house anymore,” she jokes. “They want to live in one of the brick houses they see around with all its amenities. I promised them, you will live there one day. But do your part and study hard.”

SOS Children’s Villages is supporting hundreds of families and children in Uupopo and other towns near their village community in Ondangwa, helping them to become financially independent, tackling child malnutrition and ensuring children have access to education.