Windhoek-The Gender Equality Ministry has removed a child from his mother in an effort to discourage the mother from using the child’s medical condition to beg for money from the public.
The mother of the child has, however, not taken lightly the action of the ministry and is demanding that the child be returned to her. The boy, aged 10 years, suffered severe burns to the face and needed serious medical attention.
He is still accessing medical care, thanks to the intervention of the Gender Equality Ministry and a local pharmaceutical company, Nampharm, which is picking up the medical tab.
The ministry also contends that the mother’s nomadic ways had previously led to the child missing out on doctor’s appointments.
Elizabeth Minga Ntjamba, the mother of the child who lives in the informal settlement of Okahandja Park, is nevertheless furious that the ministry took her son from her back in 2015.
The child had been placed in one of the ministry’s homes for vulnerable children.
Ntjamba maintains that her son is not attending school, has never gone for the operations promised by the ministry, and does not even have shoes.
“I’m tired of waiting, my son is just there and when I talk they get angry and want to beat me. The years are going [by]. He needs to be helped,” remarked Ntjamba, who insists she can take care of the child on her own.
Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare Control Social Worker Amelia Musukubili told New Era it was Ntjamba’s habit of begging in the streets that prompted the ministry to remove the child from her. Ntjamba would be seen often in Windhoek city centre with the child begging for money.
In her defence, Ntjamba said her son – who underwent an operation in South Africa – requires another follow-up operation that would cost around N$20,000, and that was the reason she was begging in the streets.
However, Musukubili argued that Ntjamba was using the purported cost of the operation to line her own pocket with public donations, while she is in receipt of a grant from the ministry, although the child is no longer in her care, but residing in the ministry’s homes for vulnerable children.
“The operation does not… cost N$20,000. That’s a drop in the ocean. It’s hundreds of thousands [that are] needed and no amount of money [raised] going door to door will be enough for the operation,” Musukubili said.
She also said the child, who did not attend school when he entered into the programme, is now receiving remedial lessons: “There are volunteer and remedial teachers, who come in every afternoon and teach him how to read and write on a daily basis, preparing him for school.
“And because of his face, we can’t send him to a normal school, because children will tease him and that will have a devastating effect on his self-esteem. At the children’s home, we have control to tell other children not to tease him, but at school we don’t.”
“He is now young and is building his self-esteem and we can’t allow that to be broken, because we are sensitive to him,” added the ministry’s chief social worker, Ilse Louw.