The rise from the dumps


Twelve years ago, Wilka Ouma Stephanus (42) was a cleaner at one of the local service stations in Windhoek.
But her fate had something different in store for her.
“I used to be a cleaner at East End service station but now I am someone else’s boss,” Wilka gloats.
Now an employer of 15 people, Wilka owns a recycling company which uses recyclables from Kupferberg dumping site for sale to Rent-A–Drum Waste Management Company.
Wilka makes over N$20 000 every month, owns a house and recently bought a Toyota Hilux.
“My kids and I now enjoy being driven to the North in my own car. My life has really changed,” she beams.
Her 15 employees are driven to the site every morning and back into town at the end of each day and earn N$900 each every month.
They collect plastic bags, cans, papers and plastic bottles, which they take to Rent-A–Drum where the materials are then weighed and paid for.
However, she remains concerned about her health and those of her workers, even though they go for annual medical checkups. So far, there have not been any reports of job-related illnesses detected.
Wilka only went to school up to Grade 7 and even though she is not that learned, she has really achieved a lot for herself.
The mother of three sadly lost her husband a few weeks ago. “I am sad that my husband is not here anymore but at least I will not be anyone’s burden; I can still look after my family. My kids are still going to school and there is always food on the table,” she states.
The Ondangwa-born refuse collector encourages married, widowed and/or single women to work hard in life to achieve their greatness.
“Destiny can be changed no matter what the circumstances are; the sky is the limit,” she says.
Through determination and hard work, Wilka has also given others hope for a better future, as her employees now have something to look forward to.