Down and out homeless find voice in National Council chambers to raise their concerns
Shelter and housing, unemployment, and human rights surfaced as the main concerns of homeless people at a special session of a mock parliament in the National Council Chambers in Windhoek on Sunday.
Coming together under the theme “Voice of the Voiceless, dignity restored,” the 31 homeless delegates represented a special constituency – those that have been left behind by the system and do not form part of the Namibian House.
The meeting was addressed by officials from the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration, the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare, the Ministry of Health and Social Services, and by members of the Windhoek City Police. During the session, the homeless ambassadors, acting on behalf of their constituency, had the opportunity to air their concerns and to have their many questions answered by ministry official and the city police.
Following a two-hour debate, the meeting passed seven resolutions pertaining to the provision of shelter, curbing and preventing alcohol and drug abuse, and homeless people’s general lack of access to public services. The sentiment was voiced that the government should assist them as they strive to re-enter mainstream society.
The Chairperson of the National Council, Hon Margaret Mensah-Williams said the theme of the mock parliament portrays the story of a group of people who were once voiceless but now has been given a chance to speak and to be heard. “As a result, they now feel empowered and that their dignity, once lost, has been restored,” she said.
“By bringing the voice of the homeless people to the public and national platform that is the National Council, we have now learned what their key priorities and major concerns are”, she added.
Hon. Mensah-Williams told the meeting that the report of the Homeless People’s Parliament will be tabled in the National Council for consideration. She confirmed that her office has in place a plan of action through which she will render assistance to street kids and homeless people.