Retired After 40 Years As a Street Cleaner

ANDREAS Haimbili (65) has retired after working for 40 years as a cleaner in the Swakopmund municipality’s health department.

Known to be a man of few words by his superiors, Haimbili sits on the wall at his life-long home in Mondesa, being interviewed by The Namibian. It was also in Mondesa where he worked in the street, day in and day out, keeping it clean and tidy.

Haimbili is married and has three children and six grandchildren. He was born and bred in Swakopmund, and he started working at the municipality in 1974 as a street cleaner.

“There was no work at the mines at that time. I had to work, so I got work at the municipality. If I was educated and had a chance to do anything else, I would probably have done something else,” he said.

He has seen many council leaders and workers come and go over the years. He also experienced the old South African regime’s administration the transition to an independent government and then an independent Namibia.

“I can’t say that the one government was better than the other. Things have changed for everyone and it is all good I can’t say that one was my favourite and the other not,” he explained.

As for his work, picking up after other people’s mess and cleaning up what the winds and the weather have muddled up was “what I did”.

“I kept it nice and clean and enjoyed doing it. It was nice to keep it all clean and tidy. Someone had to do it,” he said. Just then a young female street cleaner walked past his house in a green overall and respectfully greeted Haimbili.

“A lot of people here know me they all know me, how I worked,” he said.

He said that over the years, he has never found anything of value – and that it was the result of a clean street that was valuable to him and to others.

“Anyway, what valuable things do you expect to pick up in a place like Mondesa?” he joked.

Haimbili remained humble, being content with his situation and the environment.

Asked what he thought about ‘lazy people’ and ‘rebellious youth’, he continued being positive: “They must just work. They must not go home earlier than the right time, and if there is work, they must finish it. Work is scarce and you must do whatever you can to the best of your ability all the time.”

He said that his strength came from his responsibility to take care of his family.

“I am happy now that I have retired. Forty years is a long time, but I did it to the best of my ability, and now I can rest,” he concluded.

Source : The Namibian

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