Ekutu, local vendors close
International students feeling the pinch
16 March 2020 | Health
Omar van Reenen; International student; "Since we cannot work off-campus, many of us are scrambling to find ways to get access to sufficient food..."
Various events have been cancelled and numerous public entities decided to suspend services temporarily in light of the two positive coronavirus cases confirmed in Windhoek.
The Walvis Bay Municipality closed all sports facilities, libraries, parks, the Lagoon swimming pool and Dolphin resort, and no bookings will be taken for any of the town halls.
All public markets owned by the municipality, municipal market malls and light industrial stalls are also closed until further notice.
The municipality said in a statement issued by its public relations department, that all vendors’ activities were suspended until further notice.
“No hawkers will be allowed alongside the Kuisebmond Stadium and in front of Shop4Value. No vendors will be allowed outside the Kuisebmond Community Hall at Ekutu or to sell in front of Woermann Brock Kuisebmond as well as at Independence Beach. All kapana vendors have also been instructed to cease operating until further notice.”
Walvis Bay Community Church also issued a statement saying it will comply with the president’s directive concerning large gatherings. Pastor Tobie Nel confirmed that there will be no church services for the next 30 days.
“We will however conduct services online that can be followed live every Sunday from 09:00 on Facebook or YouTube. The Bible tells us to not to be anxious about anything, but to pray about everything.”
Laura van Reenen, a Walvis Bay student currently in Spain, opted to travel to another town in the country, since the virus spreading rapidly across Madrid.
“Because of its quick spread over the past few weeks in Madrid, the regional government announced on 9 March that all educational institutions will close for the next two weeks to prevent the spread of the virus. They suggested we take the necessary precautions for prevention. It’s not compulsory for us to self-isolate but it would be better.”
She said that many of her classmates left for their country of origin in the meantime.
Metumu Tjimune, a first year student at the University of Cape Town, said all universities and schools is closed with immediate effect starting on Monday.
“I’ll be travelling back home to Swakopmund on Tuesday. The majority of students have opted to go home since UCT has issued a statement that all students residing on campus need to vacate premises within 72 hours. The date of return is yet to be decided.”
Omar van Reenen, also from Walvis Bay and currently in his senior year at the State University of New York (SUNY), expressed his sadness about the disproportionate effect the virus has on students.
“Classes have been suspended, and with that comes job loses for all international students. Since we cannot work off-campus, many of us are scrambling to find ways to get access to sufficient food and pay important bills like our rent – especially those who live off-campus.”
Omar said that many students can’t just pack their bags and head home.
“We may jeopardize our visa status, forfeit our ability to continue to live and work in America after graduation, and many of our home countries are under lockdown themselves and have banned international flights. Some of us don’t have a good home environment or deal with family who could care less about our situation, so going home is not even an option.”
He added that some of the international students did not have a choice but to remain at Oswego because they need access to the library which holds academic resources like textbooks and research materials for capstone projects.
“I’m concerned about the lack of support for international students, those who live off campus, those who’ve lost their jobs and those who have limited ability to manoeuvre around this crisis. This includes not only support from our family and schools, but from our embassies and governments as well. Everything is vague, and only some of our emails/questions have been answered. We literally have nowhere to go.”
He said that tumultuous times calls for those most vulnerable in society to be placed at the forefront of a crisis.
A volunteer teacher from Peace Corps, teaching at a school in Walvis Bay, had to pack her bags and head home to the United States within two days.
“Peace Corps is evacuating worldwide. The virus is currently raging through my hometown in Boston, but it is getting hard for Peace Corps to monitor the changing local laws. I’ve been an emotional wreck all day – I’m not sure if or when I’ll be able to come back,” she said.