Saturday, November 19, 2005

News from Africa (group e-mail from Amy)

Hi Everyone,
I got my permanent site on Friday. It's a town called Anker
(pronounced similar to anchor). It's not too far (in Namibian terms, which means maybe an hour or an hour and a half) away from Kamanjab. It's in the north western corner of the country. It's a mainly Damara village (that's an ethnic group in Namibia, they speak Khoe-Khoegowab) I'll be teaching English and possibly science to sixth and seventh graders. There is a library which I will probably be working with. I am replacing a volunteer and she started it. She wrote me a long letter explaining the site and the jobs. She has a website up and running and she paid for it for one year. I haven't checked it out yet, because the Internet is expensive, but the address is
I think at that site you can donate books by giving money through Also I'll probably be organizing a book drive to send
used books from the states here at some point in my service. The reading level is relatively low here. I was looking at 8-10th grade textbooks and they were about what I would expect in a fifth or sixth grade classroom, but many of these kids don't speak English at home and it isn't a culture of reading, so I suppose that makes sense.

Also at my site the previous volunteer ran community English classes. There is an HIV/AIDs club that the previous volunteer helped run with the 4th-5th graders and the 6th-7th graders and there was a workshop for the women's group that they'd like to repeat. Almost all volunteers work with HIV/AIDS because Namibia has one of the highest rates in the world, between 20% and 25% of the country is infected. The previous volunteer also gave some baking classes for the women in the community.

So that should give you all some idea of what I might be doing for the next two years. I am really excited about my site. Everyone said that the last volunteer really loved it there and that the principal of the school treated her just like a daughter and watched out for her. It's a very rural town. They say that it's just the primary school (1st-7th grade) and a couple of houses and a shop (where I can buy sugar, flour and canned goods and not much else). I have to go to Kamanjab for groceries. The last volunteer said that it was easy to get out of the town but difficult to get back. It is out of cell phone reception, but one of the volunteers explained how to construct your own cell phone tower (kind of) on the top of your house so I think I might get one anyway. Building a cell phone tower is not one of the skills I expected to learn in the Peace Corps, but I am going with the flow. The last volunteer also left me a bunch of dishes and other stuff so I can spend most of my "settling-in allowance" on something nice, like a trip to Botswana or something. I am actually, relatively speaking, quite close to Etosha which is the big park where a lot of tourists go on safari. I hope to see some wildlife while I'm here. I've already seen some cool animal (like ostriches and also the giant spiders that live under our beds). I am going to visit my permanent site next week, so I'll email you all with how that goes.

Feel free to email me, Namibia is relatively modern for Africa and
even though I'm pretty remote I probably will have access to email at least once a month I'll be able to email, maybe more frequently.
Anyway, I'm missing you all.
Love from Africa,

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