Monday 19 April 2021
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Mix Settlement – a mixture of everything but hope

Whether it is the fact that there is no electricity, no schools, no public toilets, a mobile clinic that comes (sometimes) once a week, or the five water points for about 5000 people, residents of the Mix Settlement say this was never what they expected coming to Windhoek for a better life.
With almost no supply of basic services for years now, the Mix Settlement, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Windhoek Rural Constituency is a beacon of everything except hope. Those who have seen years of no growth or development say life in the village was better back home.
Most complaints by residents relate to the lack of water, electricity, schools, clinics, shops, police and employment opportunities in the surrounding area. The settlement is located about 20 kilometers from Windhoek central and this means that residents who work in the city have to make the journey on foot day in and day out.
Aili Paulus, a teacher at a pre-primary school has been living in the settlement for three years and says she is yet to see any signs of things getting better. As a passionate educator, she highlighted the absence of a school to be the most concerning issue for parents.
With the little parents make from their hustle, about N$500 per month is reserved to pay for transport for one child to and from Windhoek for school. The taxis merely transports learners  from the settlement to the Monte Christo Service Station, from where they must still walk to their respective schools. Returning home, the kids again walk back to their spot from where they will be picked up and taken back home.
“There are no schools here. If you have a child, you have to organize transport to take the child to Windhoek. That N$500 is only for one child, so you can imagine the pain when you have two or three kids. It is very difficult because people here already don’t earn much and yet have to send their children to school on that little salary,’ said Paulus.
The municipality had identified a plot marked off for a school but construction is yet to start. They remain hopeful though.
When the sun sets and darkness falls, the settlement comes to almost an complete standstill as there is no electricity. While it is common that darkness breeds crimes, residents of Mix Settlement have made peace that life has to continue, even throughout the dark nights.
“If and when you see a little light moving, then you know it is someone using their cellphone searching for their way home. Yes, it is dangerous but you have to get home because sometimes you knock off late,” she said.
Similarly, when nature calls at night, they are forced to see their way to the bush since the settlement does not have public toilets. Otherwise, in fear of meeting those who make a living in the dark, they will have to hold and tighten their bladders until sunrise. For their safety, they rely on the Women and Men Network personnel.
“Unless you have dug your own toilet, you have no other choice than to use the bush. It is now difficult if you live in the middle of the settlement. Surely you cannot relieve yourself close to someone’s ghetto as the odor will affect them, so you are forced to walk to the bushes where you have to be very careful of the snakes also,” she said.
With little to no employment opportunities in the area, young people who once dreamt of becoming successful have no option than to settle for either working in the nearby farms, while the teenage girls feature mostly as bar-ladies. The settlement is well decorated with shebeens and even in the morning hours when majority of the workforce are at work, the remaining residents notably the youth will be found at one.
Businessman Andreas Shipi, who owns a bar in the settlement says the situation is worrying, especially for the youth, but he also has to make a living.
“I have employed one young girl who failed grade 10 and she did not want to go back to school. But it is worrying for the others too who are just here doing nothing.
In the morning, they are always here. Some have even started drinking tombo, the traditional brew,” said a concerned Shipi.
“The jobs available are just not enough and not everyone is lucky. Some come from the north in hope for a better future just to come and become a cattle herder. So it is a sad situation because those with businesses can only do so much.”
Just like it is normal to walk distances to collect water and fire wood in a village setting, the same is normal in Mix settlement. As The Patriot team drove through the settlement, groups of  young girls with bundles of wood on their heads or elderly women with buckets of water was the evident daily routine.
The settlement only has five water points which means they are far from some residents who have built their homes on the outskirts of the forever stretching settlement.
“The town is growing by the day even when people know very well that there are no jobs. Many people here come from Windhoek to escape the burden of paying high rental bills, but besides that, it is no place for growth if you don’t already have a job,” said Paulus.
The settlement is also a land haven. Besides numerous attempts from the municipality to stop residents from building shacks, the residents seem to have taken the law in their own hands.
“It is very easy to get land here as it belongs to no one. People come here and set up their houses at any open space they see. If there [is ] people selling land here, then they are surely putting that money in their pockets.”
When it comes to health issues, one has to plan when to get sick as there exists only a mobile clinic that comes to the settlement one day in a week. Paulus said sometimes a week goes by without it coming and so one has to be very well informed to know that they it is around.
“Sometimes they would send smses to patients they have treated in the past. You can only imagine the long queues at the clinic when they get here. Otherwise if you get sick on the wrong day, you will have to look for transport to go to Windhoek, just like it is in the villages,” said Paulus.
“It is better to go back at the village. Here you go and collect wood, just like in the villages. You walk distances to collect water, just like in the village. You have boys that have been turned into cattle headers, just like in the village again. They only come and set up polls for us to vote at election time.”
The settlement, which used to be a farm, still carries its marks with signs of goats and cows roaming around the settlement. Residents say the municipality has once adviced the owners to relocate their livestock outside the settlement. To date, the settlement still carries the dung aroma.
Paulus, who came to the settlement fleeing rental bills in the city, says it is time the leadership of the country considers the voters and Namibians who live in Mix, highlighting that they could start by providing them with electricity.
“We should at least have street lights and allow those who can afford to have electricity to buy. We feel we are the most deserted when it comes to basic services so our leaders must do something about it.”

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