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From a street kid, to a focused entrepreneur

Francisco Estrays seated at his stall in Post Street in Windhoek’s Wernhill Mall area. (Photograph by Johanna Ileka)Francisco Estrays spent most of his youth on the streets and only left at the age of 28. Now 35 years old, Estrays is living a decent life – one that he is proud of.
Estrays was forced to live on the street because his mother did not have a house of her own and the place where she lived belonged to her employer. His mother had to share the single room with Estrays’ five sisters. “I could not share a room with women so I chose to live on the streets,” he said.
Estrays said he lived on the streets for over 10 years, until he was approached by social workers who introduced him to an after school programme where they were taught carpentry. He hasn’t looked back since. “I’ve always had a passion for arts since I was small. I’ve stayed with criminals, but I remained focused on the things I wanted,” says Estrays.
Also, his mother was lucky to get a house from her employers and Estrays moved in with his family in 1998. This marked the end of his street life.
Estrays remarked that it was not easy to leave the streets, especially when his sisters did all they could to make him feel as if he was not part of the family.
Before he secured a spot in the Post Street mall area, Estrays sometimes sold his works on the streets and police would chase him away because it is illegal.
“Sometimes if people don’t treat me good, I feel like going back to the streets, but I just have to be strong,” concluded Estrays.

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