Week 1: Eye Opening

I arrived in Windhoek, Namibia last Sunday around noon to start my 6 week journey with the Center for Global Education. On this journey so far, I have survived my first week and had more than an eye opening experience. I will chronologically give a breakdown of what this week consisted of. If you have further questions, comments, ect, just reply to the post and I will elaborate.

Monday– We had an orientation with the staff and a complete tour of the house we are staying in. We then had a downtown walking tour that consisted of them driving us around the area, and then dropping us off at the bank with a map to find our way home and explore. On the walking adventure, I had lunch with Ryan, a Senior BioChemistry Major at Denison. Ryan and I chose to eat at Paul’s, a restaurant where disabled people work and 10% of all of the proceeds go back to the Namibian Disabilities Program. That evening we had our first internship class and briefing with Nespect Salom, our internship coordinator. I will disclose more information about my internship later.

Tuesday– We had history class, went to a museum (Owela Museum in downtown Windhoek), learned all about Namibian history and just the different tribes. I am learning ishywambu and afrikkans now. After that evening we did “team building” with the whole staff. The housekeeper, the two cooks, and our three professors. But after team building, we stayed up, just the 6 students, and talked about religion, freedom, beliefs, God, and all of the in between until 1:30am.

Wednesday– we went to the U.S. Embassy and had a meeting in a conference room about Safety and Security while being abroad. After that we did the Katatura Conquest… which was amazing. Matheas, this boy from an organization here called Young Achievers, took us to a small business development park, and then an orphanage. We were there not even an hour with these little children, and I asked about adoption. I gave her a donation as well and have the account number if anyone else reading this blog wants to make a donation. The children had ripped clothes, no shoes, lived in outrageously awful conditions, and it broke my heart. We were there to meet with her (she didn’t speak english so we had a translator), and ask about the business side of an orphanage in the projects, and this little 4 year old came over and asked me if she could touch my hair. Then before you knew it, I was playing in the dirt with these african children. I love it here. Even though it was heart breaking, that experience, being with those kids- made all of the money spent totally worth it. Those kids just throwing their arms around your neck and wanting you to just hug them and hold them, it is unexplainable. While we were there, one girl fell head first, had dirt in her eye, and was crying, and I was so right there to just wipe her tears and brush the dirt off of her face. She kissed my cheek and I thought I was going to lose it for sure. Thinking about just one afternoon of being with these little orphans is making me so excited, and at the same time, so nervous to go back there three days a week, 8am-5pm, and do an internship in similar conditions. Katatura in general is just a totally different world. I will post pictures when I get time. I will say one thing though, I can’t even explain the amount of love that I have in my heart at this moment for those kids. It is just such a moving experience.
Thursday– We had a development seminar with one of our professors, Linda Raven, in the morning and looked at what it means to be a developing country. We also analyzed some different campaigns for helping to develop countries. In the afternoon we had an overview of Namibian politics with our first guest speaker, and former P.S. of the Ministry of Education here, Urbanus Dax. We learned about the main party, SWAPO, and the 24 ministries, as well as the three branch system Namibia has.
Friday–We all went our separate ways and did our internships. I am placed at H.I.S.A. aka, Hope Initiatives for Southern Africa. Here is the information I have about HISA:History of Organization:Hope Initiatives Southern Africa (HISA) is a young, highly regarded and visionary organization with a great deal of community respect and attention. Currently HISA feeds, educates and provides life skills of over 150 orphans and vulnerable children and care givers. Hope Initiatives is a community-based organization working to support vulnerable youth and families through education, empowerment and skill-building activities. They have three locations throughout Windhoek and conduct many projects at their sites.  The Ombili Bridging School hosts the head office of the organization. The Okahandja Park location hosts the community offices and many other programs, including: a play group (“kindergarten”) for children aged 3-7 years, a support group for women living positively with HIV, a caregivers program which gives information to parents about basic hygiene and discipline, a feeding program for children and a program for youth which gives them information on HIV/AIDS and organizes sporting activities.  Hope Initiatives also has a feeding program in the Kilimanjaro settlement.

Proposed outline of Project:When approached to discuss the Summer 2012 internship, Hopes Initiative mentioned that they are seeking assistance from anyone who can help their staff on lesson planning, teaching English and Mathematic as well as working in all the programs offered by the organization such as community development and education programmes. Overall, you have some flexibility in the direction you can go with your project.  You can discuss your skills/interests with your supervisor when you start to determine a more specific project.

So during my half day in Katatura, in the informal settlements, I met the other teachers, the children, ages 4-6, and saw what it was like to try to be around children that do not have food or clean drinking water. I would also like to make mention of the fact that some of the kids do not speak english, so it should be interesting trying to teach them. I did also meet some of the remedial kids as well, ages 8-17, who are kids that dropped out and are trying to get back into school –or who have never been to school in their lives. I have a lot to say about the education system here, so please feel free to ask me about it.

All in all, I would describe my first half day at HISA as defeating. I met a boy who’s sister had just died, had a drunk man in Katatura call me some not-so-flattering ‘white girl names,’ and felt the swelling of my heart from all of the love I already have for these children that have nothing. I go back to my internship on M, W, TR from 8-3:30, so I will be blogging more in depth about the challenges and successes that I will face there.

 

Saturday– We attended a Young Achievers meeting and learned more about youth in Namibia, while telling them all about America.

Sunday– We attended a choral concert today for the College of the Arts students trying to go to America and Germany for the Choral Olympics. It was a fundraiser we heard about through one of the cooks here at CGE, her daughter is in the choir, and decided it would be nice for us to all purchase a ticket and go. The traditional dress, beating or drums, and moving angelic sounds were the energy I needed to prepare me to return to Katatura tomorrow.

Until next time, Lexie!

 

 

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