FOR five years, Simon Petrus wore two uniforms. One was a school uniform he donned during the day to school, the other was the security guard uniform he wore each night at work.
This was his routine until he completed Grade 12 last year.
“Nobody at school knew that I work as a security guard in the evening, hence why I made sure to always hide when in uniform,” he tells The Namibian in an interview at his work station.
“But that is the life that would and still does sustain my family,” he says.
At the age of 23, Petrus reported for duty at Omega Security from 19h00 to 07h00, leaving just a few minutes to change in his school uniform and head to Hage Geingob High School in Katutura.
“That is a secret I kept from everyone at school, even my closest friends,” says Petrus, who completed Grade 10 in 2018, obtaining 28 points, with English rated “incomplete” after not writing the exam.
He resides in the Havana informal area in Windhoek and says life has been tough, and he was forced to look for a job to pay for his own studies and help put bread on his family’s table.
“I have to do what I have to do so that I can help my sisters and mother, and pay for my own studies,” he says.
Living his life as a pupil by day and guard by night was certainly not easy.
“After school, at 13h10, I would walk back home to take a nap before getting ready for work again,” he says.
Petrus has gained acceptance to pursue a diploma in electrical and electronics engineering at Triumphant College after obtaining 24 points in Grade 12.
“My dreams are for life to get better one day and for my younger siblings to continue with their education.”
He vows to “continue to work hard unapologetically” until he achieves all his goals in life.
PhD geography student and University of Namibia lecturer Ndapewa Nakanyete says she met Petrus in 2020 when she lived at an apartment building where he worked as security guard.
“When I discovered that Simon always worked at night in 2021, I grew curious and inquired as to why. I was profoundly touched to hear from him that he attended school every weekday, thus he had to work at night. He was a learner at Hage Geingob High School and in Grade 11 [at the time],” she says.
The idea of someone working from 19h00 to 07h00 before rushing to school to start classes at 07h20 struck her deeply, she says.
“In August 2021, I moved out of the apartments where Simon worked. I gave him my contact information and urged him to get in touch with me whenever he required financial or academic support.
“He never called to ask for help. That amply illustrates his independence and drive to take on as much responsibility to improve his life on his own,” she says.
Nakanyete says she was extremely proud when Petrus informed her that he had obtained 24 points in Grade 12, considering that he worked every night.
“I am so proud of Simon, so proud and profoundly inspired that when he told me he could not pay his registration fees for his studies yet, I knew I had to put my financial demands on hold to assist him. I’m hoping he receives the government grant he applied for,” she says.
Meanwhile, Petrus says he will continue working as a security guard while studying as he is responsible for his two younger sisters, who are both in Grade 10 and who he brought to Windhoek to continue their education.
Nakanyete says Petrus’ sister who comes immediately after him was forced to skip school for two years because he could not afford to support both himself and his siblings in school with his modest salary.