Never Give Up, Life is a Gift!

Hello Everyone,

I hope that you are all safe and adhering to social distancing while embraces social experiences.  

There is an incredible need today for fundraising with this Covid19 crisis which is affecting us all in some way. The world needs to believe in all hopeful stories and ones that transform us with deep gratitude for the challenges that we go through.  This is a story and an amazing person that has touched me.

After my recent trip in Namibia, doing research, I met a young guy, Kalenga, who has an absolutely extraordinary drive to better himself and educate himself.  After many conversations and finding out about his dreams, desires and situation, I decided that I would start this GoFundMe page to help him reach his dreams. Namibia is not yet supported by GoFundMe on the financial side, so I want you to know that your donation, if you so wish to support, will go directly to Kalenga when he instructs me that he needs it.  I am just the intermediary and organizer in support of his mission and dreams. 

Kalenga  has inspired me in so many ways to look at life and humanity differently.  I use his quote here, Never Give up, Life is a Gift, daily.  My gift to him is to assist him with this fundraising and I hope that you can also assist.  Thank you so much.  Let me introduce Kalenga and let him tell his story for you!

I am Erastus Kalenga Hamunjela,

An orphan and former street kid from Namibia who successfully achieved an Honors Degree in Media Studies from the University of Namibia. It has been a long journey.  Now my journey continues to complete my Master’s Degree, where I have been accepted at the famous Erasmus University in Rotterdam, Netherlands.  I am raising funds to fulfill my big dream of my Master’s Degree … thank you, so much for your consideration and help. 

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20 years ago,

 I could not believe that one day I will be where I am today.  

One of my favorite leaders of all is the immortal Nelson Mandela.  He once said, it is a Long Walk to Freedom … Here is the account of my Long Walk to Freedom.

At the age of seven,

I lost both of my parents from a car accident of which I survived. This was the hardest thing, and I felt my life was over. I was left with nothing, not even my immediate family would embrace me into their families.  At this point, I realized I was truly on my own at such a tender age.  I somehow realized though inside of me, I did have something. I felt an inner fire, a will-power, but what was this. I believed there was something more for me; dreams to be fulfilled, but where were they, this I was to discover. 

On my own,

My only choice was to become a street kid.  I begged for food, ate out of dustbins, slept in the open air even during winter. I was completely homeless.  My refuge and home was living under bridges. 

Being a street kid and an orphan is the hardest life one can have.  No one is there to take care of you; you live in an unhygienic place; eat unhealthy food just to survive; no time to shower, no clothes to wear; no shoes; and no hope for the future … until

One day,

When I was 11 years old, a lady asked me why I was living on the street. She said, I must go to school and she kindly took me in. She became my first ray of hope in life – my education began. She was such a blessing to me.

When I started school at 11 years old, I was in an undesirable situation of being in a class with 5-year-old children. This was not easy, being the oldest child in the class was at times very hurtful.  You see, I came from a society where education was and still sometimes is not a priority. I was bullied and called disturbing names. And this was because nobody believed in me nor my dreams. Sadly, the only person that did believe in me was the old lady.  She passed away and again it was like starting over again …

I dropped out of school,

In Grade 6, as there was a lot going on that I did not understand. I was confused, I was worried about my life, my future, I was not at peace with myself and I felt so hopeless. I even wanted to end my life.

I tried to commit suicide for the first time at the age of 16 with Ricin. Ricin is a deadly poison that comes from castor beans and a dose the size of a single grain of sand can kill you. However, in my case, I was not successful. I vomited the poison up and my whole body and being were extremely weak, almost comatose for around five hours. I kept it as a secret and after two months of recovery I was able to keep up with my studies again.
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If that wasn't enough,

Years later when I was 21 years and I was in high school (Grade 11), I tried to commit suicide again. Life was horrible. I started hearing voices in my head of people telling me to commit suicide, and I was so confused. I could not study and could not sleep during the night. The voices were haunting me nightly. I couldn’t take it any longer, so I got a rope and tried to hang myself. Again, I failed at suicide. The rope that I used was not strong enough; someone found me; rescued me; and took me to the hospital. After being assessed I was admitted to a psychiatric ward. This was not truly not helpful. Within a month though, I stopped hearing the voices.

After being released from the hospital,

I realized that I had been over thinking at my age. I guess who wouldn’t from everything that I had been through my whole life to date. I had so many questions like “why am I going through all this?  Why did I have to lose my parents and why were people rejecting me?’’ So many questions. 

Yet these questions, my life and the attempted suicides,

Led me to realize how far I had come and how blessed I am. Why was my life not taken from me? What was the bigger purpose for me in this world? Was a greater power watching over me?

I started to reflect on how grateful I was for the food that I found in dustbins and what a blessing it was to me. The food that I scavenged was my gift of life. I came to believe that people who threw their leftovers away did not realize what a gift this was to me – I am so grateful.

Not all street kids get a chance to go to school and this was now my inner power.

I started appreciating everything.

I used the few study materials I had which were mostly provided by my teachers for being always the best student and producing the best marks.  I pushed and pushed even harder until I graduated from one of the best high schools in Namibia, - the Gabriel Taapopi Secondary School in the Oshana region of Northern Namibia.

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I am not sure how I accomplished this immense feat,

But my will-power drove me against all odds. I lived in a hostel when I was in high school with 11 roommates, with no toiletries, nor food nor study materials. With all that, I managed to complete both my Grade 11 & 12 with good marks and with an A in business studies. I thank God for this. This means to me that everything is possible in life as long as you have faith, and a deeper purpose.

After graduation from Grade 12,

My life took a turn for the worse...yes again. I really never thought it could get worse as I was riding so high on my accomplishment. Well it did.  In fact, it was the toughest I have ever encountered. 

It was time for me to apply for University.  This meant a move to Windhoek, which was a foreign city to me.  Here I entered the University of Namibia to study for my Bachelor of Arts: Media Studies (Honors).  The problem was I was not admitted into the University hostel and there was no money for my registration. I was so confused and I did not know what to do. I would pray to God “WHY ME’’? Why is this still happening?  What more do I have to go through? 

I dug deep into my soul and said, even though I have no place to stay,

Dropping out is not an option. 

I reached out to the public begging for help by asking them to do garden work and wash their cars, just so that I would be able to help myself here and there. After desparately seeking a place to call home, luckily, a good Samaritan came through and offered me a place to sleep at night … a Prison, for free. There was a big problem though; the prison was three hours walking distance to the Campus.

Again,

I found myself with no money for taxi’s, nor food, nor study materials. What was I to do.  My studies for the first two years were greatly affected, because I was unable to attend 80% of my classes because most of my classes were in the morning from 7:30 AM until sometimes late in the evening. I kept saying to myself ‘dropping out was not option’. 

My long walk to freedom as Mandela would say, was long.  My walk to freedom, my education, my life was highly dangerous for two long years.  I was at risk every day.

I was robbed three times, and the third time,

I almost got killed. 

The robbers were looking for valuables and I had no valuables on me.  They got so mad they decided to kill me instead.  They beat me up so badly, but somehow, wounded and bleeding, I don’t know how…I managed to escape and hobble back to the prison.

After recovering, things started to turn around for the better. I was fed up with my situation and thought what have I got to lose. I decided to publish an article about my story in one of the biggest newspapers in Namibia asking the public to help me out. This happy ending, led to me to getting a place in the University hostel for my last two years of University.

(https://www.namibian.com.na/171891/archive-read/The-Road-to-Success-As-a-Street-Kid).

When I got in the hostel my life changed dramatically.  Academically, I stared getting distinctions.

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My life to this date,

Has taught me to Never Give Up even with all the most difficult scenarios that I have been confronted with. It has left me ragged and scared yet incredibly grateful for being alive.  Life is a Gift, I truly believe and for some reason I know I am to accomplish wonderful things in my life, because I have been given my life back so many times. 

All these trials and tribulation since I was 7 years old have finally got me to my dream. I don't really know how I have sustained and managed these past 20 years, but this is where I find myself today.

I graduate on April 16, 2020,

With an Honor’s degree and in the top 5 of my graduating class (out of 70) with a Bachelor of Arts in Media Studies.  I can’t be more grateful.

Today,

I am admitted to the famous Erasmus University in Rotterdam, Netherlands.  I was accepted at seven other Universities in Europe for September intake 2020, to go do my masters, but I have decided on Erasmus and so truly grateful.  I think, not sure still researching this, that I am the first Namibian to attend the University.  

Again the challenges are big,

Admission to Erasmus comes with a cost, an even bigger cost than before. Due to this wonderful GoFundMe, a sponsor for my tuition appeared out of nowhere. I get very emotional when I think of this actuality of attending Erasmus. So grateful to my sponsor.  Yet, there are still funds that I need to raise fast to actually get to Europe. I would be so incredibly grateful if you could donate a little for me to get to Europe, my health insurance and some daily living expenses for my travel.  

Budget

1. Flight                                                                   CDN1600
2. Health Insurance                                          CDN  500
3. Travel Expenses                                            CDN  500
(food, ground transportation, in Europe...)

Target Date for Funds:                                  August 15,  2020

University Commences:                               September, 2020

I would appreciate it so much if you can help in any way to contribute towards getting to Europe to fulfill this wonderful opportunity at Erasmus.   

My mind is tenacious,

My soul is full of hope and love. I am not giving up.  Why?  Because what I make of my education will decide nothing less than the future of my community, my country, my continent and the world at large. My dream is to make the world a better place for all and to help those that can’t help themselves. What we are learning in school and Universities today will determine whether Namibia as a nation can meet our greatest challenges in the future.

Sometimes we go through hardships and I have been through my fair share. I have fully experienced with great cost to my life, that obstacles should not stop you from achieving the greatest goals you want to achieve.

Finally,  

Sometimes when we think about what we are capable of, we never think big enough. We look at others and we believe that somehow they have something we do not, and that perhaps, they were always destined for more. Sometimes we tell ourselves that we do not have it in us to live that way and to take the action that they do. We worry that we are not brave enough to make the decisions needed to really live from a place of truth. Worse, we fear we have nothing of value to offer!

My long walk to freedom is,

Life is a Gift. Never Give Up.

If you wish to reach out and be part of producing this next part of my dream you may do so by donation here at GoFundMe. 

By the way … I am going for my PhD after the Master’s!!! I will Never Give Up

NB: please share with your family, friends and loved ones. Thank you very much.

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Donations

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Organizer

Kevin Cottam 
Organizer
Victoria, BC
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