Monday, January 30, 2006

Links to information about Namibia and the Peace Corps in Namibia

This page adapted and updated from Liz's site

About Namibia


Informational, history and culture related:
Language related:
Entertainment, news and media-related:
Tourist and travel-related:

About the Peace Corps
Websites, Blogs and pictures by Namibia PCV's and RPCVs (Returned PCVs)

Groups pre-2002

  • Greg V.'s site -- RPCV from '94-'97 -- pics, links, resources (quizzes, book list, etc.), and more
  • Ian's site --Group 16 (2000-2003)-- pics and descriptions from training
Group 20 -- November 2002 - December 2004
Group 22 --November 2003 - December 2005
Group 24 -- November 2004 - December 2006
Group 25 (November 2005 - December 2007)
Group 26 (November 2006 - December 2008)
Group 27 (November 2007 - December 2009)

Report any changes, additions or dead links by using the comments below

About Namibia


Namibia in Wikipedia

Country Profile

Daylight Saving Time

Namibian Independence Day

About the Damara people that Amy works with

Namibian Languages

Links to Maps of Namibia

Webcams in Windhoek







Ten Sunniest Cities in the world

20 Nations with the highest prevalence of TB

10 nations with the lowest population density

Top 10 nations with the highest % of adults living with HIV/AIDs

26 newest nations in the world

Top 10 nations with the lowest life expectancy

Top 20 nations with the highest death rate

Top 10 nations with the highest % of Lutherans

Links to Maps of Namibia

Go2Africa interactive map of Namibia


The Cardboard Box map page


Maps of Languages in Nambia

Greenwood guides

Where is Amy?

Google Maps of Namibian Cities

Google search

Communal conservancies in Namibia

IIASA Maps of Namibia

Geological map of Namibia map page

Regional Road Maps:

Grootfontein tourist map
Naukluft 4x4 and hiking trails
Waterkloof trail
Tiras Mountain conservancy
West Coast Recreation Area
Namib Naukluft Park

Friday, January 20, 2006

Hello from Anker (an email from Amy)

This is the first we've heard from Amy since she arrived in Anker on Jan 7.

Hey everyone,

I am back in the land of the connected for a day. It's the end of the month and teachers get paid on the 20 th, so it was pretty easy to find a ride in to Kamanjab. It also means that everyone is running out of food. Some of the kids who come and hang around my house have been asking me for food. It's hard, because I know they're hungry, but I can't give out food because I have to live here for two more years and if I start giving out food, word will get around and pretty soon I'll be feeding half the kids in town.

I know I wrote a few weeks ago that the "rainy" season was sort of a misnomer. I stand corrected. We just hadn't reached the rainy season yet. It has rained an enormous amount the last two weeks, pouring gallons of water on the flowers in my backyard and allowing two donkeys to get into my neighbor's garden a couple of nights ago (keeping me awake much of the night.) Unfortunately, that means I'm a bit isolated. Anker is generally a bit isolated. It never has cell coverage but the rains took out the landline phones here for a week. Also the rivers are sometimes running. There aren't bridges over most of the rivers here and they're dangerous to cross, so when they're running you are stranded on whatever side of the river you are on. To get to Kamanjab you have to cross two major rivers; the Okanguati, and the Kanjuan (I'm not so sure on those spellings-it's an oral culture.) Sometimes people sleep at the river in their cars, waiting for the water to recede so they can go home. Anyway, that's why it's been a while since I wrote.

From Anker to Kamanjab

The isolation does have its positive sides, though. In the past two weeks I've finished five books (A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson, Bella Canto by Anne Sexton, All's Well That Ends Well by good old Bill, Notes From a Big Country by Bill Bryson, Angels and Demons by Dan Brown) and started a sixth (Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad.) Most of them were pretty good. Angels and Demons was, not surprisingly, infuriatingly predictable (How we are supposed to believe that the main character, a Harvard prof, is so stupid that he can't pick out what I can see from a mile away, is beyond me) but it was exciting and, living without television for the most part, I need a little escapism in my literature.

I have to say I was a little disappointed by the end of All's Well That Ends Well. If you haven't read the play, this will entirely ruin it for you, but it's Shakespeare so it's not like the plot is original anyway. There's this wonderful woman in the play named Helena, who is amazing in pretty much every way you can be amazing. She is clever, brave, and humble, not to mention she has a beautiful turn of phrase. She falls in love with a noble named Bertram and convinces the king to have them married. Bertram then spends the rest of the play proving himself to be a complete ass. I'm OK with that, I mean when do we fall in love with people because they're good for us. This is my problem; he basically tries to ruin Helena 's life in every way possible and is happy when he thinks she's dead and in the end they end up together. Now, I'm probably not one to question the bard, but if I had been writing the play I'd have ended it with something satisfying, like Helena marrying someone new (and better) and Bertram ending up at the receiving end of a painful and embarrassing plague of boils or something, but that's probably because I'm a little vengeful.

Along with this email I'm sending an email I wrote about two weeks ago, just a day or two into my stay in Anker, because I don't want to write everything over again. My first few weeks of school have been busy, but good. Here's a basic overview of my day that I wrote last week.

(written on Friday Jan 13, 2006)

OK, Back by popular demand (and because it's a Friday night and When You Are Mine won't be on for another hour) it's A Day In the Life of Amy; Joe Peace Corps Volunteer.

5:00AM My alarm goes off. Generally I get up (although sometimes I push the snooze) and put on the electric kettle to start heating my bath water and I fix myself some breakfast (oatmeal or cornflakes, juice and coffee or tea plus my vitamin pill.) I fill my laundry tub with three kettles of boiling water and about the same amount of cold water and I bathe. Then I get dressed, put on suntan lotion, and pack my stuff.

6:30AM Teacher's meeting- generally consisting of a slow sort of awkward conversation of the basics in English followed by a much more relaxed socializing session in ridiculously fast KhoeKhoe/Afrikans.

6:50AM (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) Assembly- the children sing, raise the flag, listen to one of the teachers give a devotion, and then pray the Lord's Prayer (separation of church and state doesn't really come into play here.)

7:00AM School starts- I teach between four and seven 40 minute periods a day. Mostly English, but also 7 th grade natural science and Basic Information Science (Library time)

9:00AM Tea break- sometimes with heavily sweetened tea (think "sweeter than Coke"), but mostly consisting of a large amount of porridge with sugar and sour milk and some goat meat or game meat (oryx, kudu, or ealan.) I like the porridge, but I'm still trying to get used to sour milk. I feel like I should eat it, though, because white people sometimes talk about porridge in a derogatory way, saying that it's just for black people. Aich, race is such a complicated issue here.

1:00PM Classes end- at this point in the day I go home and make myself lunch and sometimes listen to the BBC on my shortwave radio (the signal does usually give out sometime around 2:30, but if it's not cloudy (clouds block the reception) I usually have managed to hear at least the headlines by that time.) Sometimes I just sit on my hammock and read. Sometimes kids come by and bug me. I still haven't exactly figured out how to say "No, you can't come to my house during lunch."

3:00PM Supervised study period- I spend this time in the library, having recently realized that I am basically a librarian as well as a teacher. Sometimes I prepare the books for shelving or reorganize the shelves, sometimes children come in and want to look at books or have me read a story to them, and sometimes I have some spare time to plan the next day's lessons. I also have been working on designing a basic computer class for the teachers and when I say basic I mean basic- Lesson One-turning on the computer. It's a whole new mindset to teach computers here. Because most people have never used a computer in their lives, I need to explain things like how to put spaces between words and what it means to "click" the "mouse."

5:00PM School is finished- I go home, wash my feet, make myself supper, plan lessons, work on secondary projects (getting books for the library, computer classes, thinking about grant proposals I could write), listen to the shortwave, watch When You Are Mine next door (where they have DSTV), correct papers, and read. You know, the usual stuff.

9:30PM- Nightly Devotions, reading and sleep. I usually manage to get to sleep by 10 although I've been trying to get to bed earlier lately.

So that's my deeply exciting day. I am busier than I thought I would be and I definitely don't get enough sleep. I have to learn how to nap. My favourite part of my job is working in the library. A couple of days ago some kids came to ask me if I knew the capitals of a bunch of countries (I think they were trying to get me to do their geography homework.) I got to explain to them what an atlas is and how to use it. I really love when they get excited about looking at books. Cinderella is one of the most popular titles and princess stories in general are pretty popular with both the girls and sometimes the boys. I think the appeal might be the idea that someone born in poverty could rise into riches.

Funny story. I was sitting out on my front lawn drinking hot cocoa and three girls came to visit me, which was nice since I was sitting on my front lawn in the hopes that someone would come by and talk to me. We talked for a while and then they asked me, "Do you eat porridge?" Well, that took me a little aback, because I do like porridge, but I haven't eaten it lately (I forgot to get mealie meal with my groceries.) "Yes, I do eat porridge." I answered. "I think it's very good, don't you?" "Yes," the girl answered, "I was just wondering because sometimes colorful people like you don't like porridge. They say porridge is for black people." I just liked that story because she described me as a "colorful person" which I think is a wonderful description.

As for classes, they're going pretty well. The level of English here is extremely low. I gave a pretest to my sixth graders with the instructions "Write a letter (60-80 words) to a friend in a foreign country trying to convince him or her to come to Namibia." This was a question directly out of the book of questions they might be asked in their 7th grade exams, but I altered the number of words required. Ninety percent of my sixth graders copied the prompt word for word and wrote nothing else. 80-90% of the students got the question "Fact or Opinion: Valentine's Day cards are nice" wrong, some because they wrote "true" or "false" or simply copied the sentence. I learned on Thursday that my region, Kunene, has the lowest grade 10 passing rate in the country by quite a bit and that's in a country where half of kids fail 10th grade and where 30% is passing. I'm working on it, but it's tough. The students are used to copying words off the board or out of the book, but asking them to actively think about the answers is like trying to pull teeth. On a positive not, I think my 7th grade science class is really starting to understand food webs. We do activities on the board where we come up with animals together and then I call on students to draw the arrows and they get really excited about it. I hope I can have that kind of success with the English classes.

Church is good too.
I go to the Lutheran church (and I think I'm the town's entertainment since half of the time kids are staring at me as I sing the hymns in KhoeKhoe.) I can follow about half of the liturgy (as in, I know where we are, not I know what's going on.) On my first Sunday they had a translator, but last Sunday it was all KnoeKhoe. I think I'm going to have to learn the language for my own spiritual health. Anyway, on the first Sunday I brought N$10 (US$1.60) for the offering. I had been thinking about trying to give 10%, but I thought I should start a little slower. It soon became apparent that there was no way that tithing was going to work. Apparently my $10 was almost double what the rest of the congregation gave combined (although there were less people there than usual), so I'm down to three or four dollars, since that seems to be about what others bring. I like church. I get to see all of the older women and afterward we shake hands with everyone in the congregation. My first Sunday one lady talked about how it was a victory over apartheid that I was worshiping there, so I think it's a good way of becoming integrated into the village too.

Anyway, I've probably lost most of you by now. I have to be less verbose. Hope everything is going well at home. Peace.

Prayer Requests: That I won't get burnt out by the amount of work to do, that I will learn to say "no," that my kids will understand what I'm asking them to do and that I will teach clearly, that I will make friends in the community and work to break down the barriers that apartheid set up, and that