Monday (6/4/12)– I started my first full week of interning at Hope Initiatives for Southern Africa and it was more than an eye opening experience, such as last week was. On my first day of the job, it was my duty to teach the 4 and 5
the four and five year old class for their morning session. In the picture above is an orphan named Lucia. She is 4 years old, and her parents died of the AIDS. 19 out of the 23 children in my 4-5 year old class are orphans, due to the HIV virus. The most shocking, heartbreaking, and life altering fact of the week at my internship, hands down. These kids need more help than I can provide in 1 or even 100 class sessions, however, just a hug and a little bit of loving and tickling will have to do just fine for now.These kids have already stolen my heart and are changing my life.
The way that my internship is set up deserves to be discussed in detail before I go into what exactly my lesson plans and experiences have been. I am at HISA on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. On Mondays, I am with the younger class attempting to teach them some english. Here in Namibia, there are a multitude of languages spoken. You can find everything from the click languages of Damara/Nama, to the Northern isywambu langue of the ovambo and herrero tribes (which differ a little, but most northerns can still understand both). So, while all of these languages are tough to overcome, trying to teach english is not the least of my problems at Hope Initiatives. Keeping 4 and 5 year old in line while trying to teach in a classroom that is the size of a trailer, literally, is not exactly helpful. I was able to successfully teach the children the body parts, which I figured was only appropriate having just taken Human Gross Anatomy. The children drew their faces, body, arms and legs, and after we reviewed the features of the face in a ‘repeat after me,’ sort of
fashion. I then showed them my beautiful vocal skills with a rendition of, “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.” The kids thought my singing was funny, but by the end, they all had the tune and were giggling uncontrollably at how silly their teacher was. The day only got better when the children hit the field outside for recess and we played soccer. I am not totally sure I would call the game soccer, however, them being amazed at my juggling the ball 10 times was pretty funny. We fed the children lunch (just like every day), and then before you knew it, the day was over and I was attending my first staff meeting!
Tuesday (6/5) We had development class with our professor, Linda Raven. For our development classes, which we have every Tuesday and Friday, we turn in written reflections on a slew of readings ahead of time. For Tuesday’s class our reading was centered around poverty and what it means to be living in poverty. We had a guest speaker in the afternoon that spoke to us about his work in consultancy, which is quite broad. He used to work for the namibian government’s Ministry of Labor, and then branched off. One thing that we, the American students, are finding to be true, is that most people here in Namibia are sick of the poverty that oppresses them, however, there is no great call to action for any sort of demonstration. The speaker had given us the example of the National Namibian Soccer team here, and how they had just formed a union. Apparently, most of the men on the Brave Warriors soccer team have day jobs and are not compensated for their travels in soccer and the time and effort put into training. With these unfair working conditions, clearly there was some poverty there to discuss. That night I attended a NNSO meeting, the National Namibian Student Organization, who work with the Ministry of Education (one of the 24 branches of the government). At NNSO, I was greeted as the white American that everyone kept referring to as, “Comrade,” and believe it or not- got into a pretty heated debated that ended in clapping, applause, and a few boo’s for the NNSO representatives by the other Namibia students there. Who would have thought, me finding something to debate about? I had argued that education is Namibia is not free, even though the Namibian constitution states that all Primary and Secondary Public schooling will be free for all in Article 21 of the constitution. However, the fact of the matter is, all of the students attending those schools need to pay an “SDF,” or School Development Fund, to actually attend school. These fees cover uniforms, school supplies, and things like maternity leave and other misc. expenses the government is not willing to pay for. A lot of children in Namibia (something crazy like 50%) actually drop out and do NOT finish Secondary Schooling because they can’t afford the SDF. Although my friend from NNSO did not agree with my debate of the definition of ‘free,’ most other students agreed and found this to be the number one pressing issue that they wanted their representatives to take back to the Ministry. Here Here for representing the constituents set forth by your organization.
Wednesday (6/6) I was with the older 6 year old class and read a few books, one about the jungle and its animals, the other about dinosaurs. I was shocked to find out that the kids had never heard of the word ‘dinosaur’ before, let alone knew that many years ago they really did exist. It was also a little heart wrenching when one of the girls, Sophia, came up to my after class was over and recess had started, asking me if I would read to her again. (Not the heart wrenching part.) Of course I said that I would and I asked why she liked me to read to her, and the response was lip quivering: no one had ever read to her before. Now keep in mind that this child lives in the informal settlements of Katatura in a house made of tin, looking somewhat like this:
My recess finished out with the kids asking me to punt the ball repeatedly into the air so they could all crowd under it as it crashed down, and then run away screaming. Totally worth my sore hamstrings.
Thursday (6/7) When I go to HISA this day, it was the final day of immunizations at the center. All week their had been a few people coming in from the settlements to get shots, issued by the government, for Polio and a few other things. This was the article in the Namibian newspaper about the immunizations: http://www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/Health/20060718/namibia_polio_060718/
While this was going on, I had my first encounter with the Family Adult Literacy Program. I was teaching the 30, 40, and even 50 year old women how to speak english. We started with some basic reading (which was much tougher than anticipated), and then went straight to the board for some ‘repeat this word after me.’ We went through different genres of words that I thought up off of the top of my head, for example, words associated with weather: cloudy, sunshine, snow, etc. When they heard we had snow in America, it was quite a laugh for everyone. Currently, it is winter in Namibia, which at first was not that cold, maybe 75 during the day. Now, it is getting very cold at night (below freezing) and hopefulling above 65 during the day in the sunshine. The adult learners were a very different group, but a treat none the less.
When I left my internship on Thursday, I started my homestay portion of the program for the weekend. I will discuss this in my next blog because it is currently too late to do it now. Thank you for following!
Before I get off of the internet for the night, I want to give a shout out to my brother, as requested: Nick, I love you, congrats on scoring your game winning goal!
Thanks for following,