She wakes up at 04h00, a prayer, a cold bath and by 04h45am she is out of the house headed towards Gift Shop in the heart of Katutura’s Herero location.
Soon she enters Khomasdal suburb, walking towards the area where David Bezuidenhout High School learner Magdalena Stoffels was raped and murdered last year.
By the time she enters the B1 after side-passing the Western Suburbs, it is almost daylight and an hour and a half would have passed since she left home.
Few cars drive past her. Some of her colleagues are being driven to school but she can’t let them know of her situation. So she can’t wave them to stop.
In fact, it is because of the pride of teen-ageism and her unbreakable spirit.
Around 07h30, sweaty, dusty and obviously exhausted, she walks through the gates of Concordia College.
“Why should anyone know that I walk to school? Even my mom does not know that. I will make it one day,” says Anna Waendama, when The Villager crew caught up with her as she was walking home last week, in Windhoek’s summer heat.
Anna is one of Concordia’s top students. She is a Grade 11 pupil who recently transferred from Dobra (St. Josephs High) because she can’t afford the fees. Her Grade 10 results are exceptional. She was in the top 10 with 35 points and today her classmates regard her as among the stream’s cream.
But no one knows that in a month, for a week or two she walks to school from Katutura.
Anna lives with her aunt. Her biological mother, a cleaner in Rundu at the Defence Forces Base cannot afford to look after her.
“My aunt and my mom are awesome women. I get taxi money, but they cannot afford to pay N$30 each month every day for me to commute to and fro. I understand their plight because at times even my aunt’s daughter who schools at Academia does not have taxi money and she stays home from school.
“I cannot afford to miss my school. Usually, my Aunt gives me N$20 per day but when she doesn’t have, I walk. I don’t want to bother anyone. This is my destiny,” she says in painless English.
Her father (name withheld), abandoned them when she was a toddler and has never bothered supporting her despite his vast riches in northern Namibia.
Because of money, she last saw her mother in August 2010.
What about the fear of being attacked?
“I am a survivor. No one can touch me. I leave my phone at home so I do not see anyone attacking me for no reason and I believe God has a purpose for me. I want to pursue a career in bio-chemistry and I know staying at home is as good as being dead, because I will not make it in life.” says the 17-year old.
But she has no idea how many points she got in the last semester because there was not enough money to pay for her fees and the school refused to issue the report.
“I cannot set targets for myself this semester because I do not know how I performed last year. The only problem with walking is that I always walk in last and sometimes I fail to concentrate in the morning because of fatigue and you have no time to catch up,” says the student who is second to none in science and mathematics.
Oblivious, teachers have reprimanded her for coming late while others threw words at her as other students giggle and scorn her.
Even the uniform she wears is a contribution from some of her classmates.
She dreams of going to Unam or to a university in Cape Town.
Hipuulenga Lumbu is Anna’s aunt, and she describes her niece as an intelligent person. Meme Lumbu has four children including Anna to take care of, and she herself is a student at the International University of Management.
“Two weeks ago, I was so broke and only had N$30 for me, my daughter and Anna so we had to split N$10 each. Anna had to come back from school footing,” said Lumbu of the only incident she knows of Anna’s treks, yet it’s a common trend to the pupil.
“Better days will come. I will stop arriving home around 6pm. I am determined,” said Anna as she prepared for another day of trekking to Concordia.
Anna’s register teacher Aune Mukundja shows confidence in Anna who is one of her best learners.
“She is a dedicated student. I have never received any complaints from her teachers.”
And her class teacher regards her as an excellent and a mature kid but it seems she does not know that the maturity is a result of her experiences.
Even though Anna is an excellent student, Mukundja couldn’t help but notice that her grades do not up to the usual standards of the HIGSE leaner she is.
She also added that she has noticed that Anna does not come to school sometimes, but she did not know about her financial situation.