Bravery is a big word. And it means so many things to so many of us. If there is one story of bravery I have known since I was a child, it is the story that led us to be called “The Land of the Brave”. A story of bravery and sacrifice. We always celebrate the sacrifice that brought us the freedom and liberties we enjoy today.

My name is Alina Ndapewa Inekel’Omuwa Kadhila. I am 28 years old, and I was born and bred in a village called Amuteya in Oshikoto Region (Northern Namibia).

This is my brave story.

I was brought up in a remote village. We didn’t have roads, to put it in context, we had to walk about 7km to get to the nearest road to get a hike to town. The nearest clinic was nearly 15km away, and electricity was a far-fetched dream. We used either firewood or paraffin to cook and candles for light.

I grew up with nothing. Even though both my parents are alive and well, my mother was the present and supportive one.

However, she was, and still is, unemployed (except now she is a pensioner). With our economic status and no income, we could not afford even the basics; this ranged from food, winter clothes, shoes, a lunchbox, to hospital fare and school fees. It was tight and unimaginable to many. I remember from Grades 1-3 school fees were only N$8.00, but we did not have it. It was a government school which is why the fee was so low. Mom would have to go to school and plead with the principal about her shortcoming in payment so that I could be allowed in class despite not paying.

This went on for years. I schooled in public schools all the way through to matric. Trust me, it was not easy. Financial stress was not our only issue. We also had suffered domestic abuse, amongst other things. This went on for over 20 years by the way.

If you ask anyone who has endured even a fraction of what I have been through, no one will give you a medal of bravery. They will simply tell you to suck it up and keep it moving. After all, 100s of kids are going through that. This is meant to make you believe that what you are going through is not a big deal.

I, however, consider myself to be brave enough to have been able to change my circumstances and to stand as a testimony to others that no matter the circumstances, things can change, especially if one makes up their mind to do something about and follow through with practical steps.

I went from a girl who stayed in a thatched house, some days without food or basic needs like pads, shoes, or a pen to write. I used to do my homework while herding our animals. If it were raining, I would have to figure it out. Because after you put the animals into the kraal it was too dark to read, and sometimes I would have to do other house chores like cooking, pounding, and so forth. To becoming one of the top performers in every school I had ever attended. Onda lesehele omambo noluhepo (it simply means I studied hard despite the hardships). I have been assimilated into society as a professional who gives back to communities with my skills. I am now a Geologist as well as a Geohydrologist. I am employed to carry out tasks that contribute directly to the efforts and actions of providing every citizen with water. This “little poor village girl” now holds an Honours Degree in Geology, an Honours Degree in Geohydrology (cum laude) and a Master’s Degree in Geohydrology.

I am also a mental health activist and life coach who motivates and inspires others to make the most of their situations. Especially those who can relate. There are fundamental lessons I have had to learn, because growing up, there was no guidance or mentorship, none that I had access to anyway. And I pass that on to anyone who is interested. I have registered a life coaching company that will be doing just that (Alina’s Collective Life Coaching CC).

I am most proud to say that I stood up against the abuse and impossible odds. I also had to watch my mom and my younger brother go through this and could not do a thing about it. Part of us thought this was it, and no one was coming to help/save us. Little did we know that the wheels of justice were indeed rolling. Going to the police to register the case was the hardest part. Another hard part was going to court and seeking protection orders. Then the physically, mentally, and financially draining part came – building a shelter from scratch with limited resources. It was no joke. And not to forget, these types of things aren’t acknowledged as challenges in my community.

With all these adversities and challenges I had to overcome, I thought to inspire someone out there, and encourage you to #BeBrave and take action to ensure that you change your situation, take that course and study, start that business, network, ask for help, take a chance on yourself and you will be surprised at what you can achieve. #BeBrave