Friday, June 30, 2006

Polio (again), a dead bird, and books (email from Amy)

Hey everyone—

In Otjiwarongo

I'm currently in Otjiwarongo (map) for a birthday party. This is a four day weekend for the schools and I think most of the volunteers are going somewhere to hang out. It's been nice here. I sent out 45 donation letters to book charities, magazine companies, book publishers, and toy companies asking for books, magazines, soccer balls, toys, and games, prompting many of the other volunteers to believe me to be a bit more amazing than I actually am.


I wanted to send this email last Saturday, but there were no phone cards to be had in Anker for any price (I went to both shops that sometimes have them—no luck.) I tried to avoid the guy who always heckles me. My newest strategy is to pretend I don't see or hear him. He yelled at me asking me if I was crazy which I thought was pretty ironic considering I'm the volunteer with the steady job who has a reason for going to the store he's the guy without legs who's always drunk and who sits down on a burned out car all day and propositions me. Anyway, all of the Namibians are on my side and think he's weird.

Polio immunizations

Last week I almost got vaccinated against polio again. If you haven't heard, there has been a pretty major outbreak of polio in Namibia. As if a 20% AIDs rate wasn't enough to deal with, we now have more than half of the polio cases in the world. Most of them are in Katatura, the township of Windhoek, but I heard that there was a kid in Kamanjab, just about 55K away from me. Anyway, the Ministry of Health, UNICEF, and the WHO have started this massive inoculation campaign. The Peace Corps allayed our fears at the All-PCV conference by reminding us that we were immunized against just about every vaccinate-able disease under the sun and told us not to get immunized. Unfortunately, no one told the Ministry of Health. On Wednesday the nurse from the clinic showed up with a battered looking Styrofoam cooler full of polio vaccine drops to immunize everyone at the school and she was under orders to immunize everyone, including foreigners, in Namibia. I was equally under orders by the Peace Corps not to get immunized. Anyway, we played phone tag for a while. I wouldn't have minded getting vaccinated (it wasn't even a shot, just the drops) but I didn't want to get in trouble from the Peace Corps. Anyway, the long and short of it, is that I didn't end up getting immunized but all of
my kids should be safe now.

Animals and Plants

On Wednesday I had my first KhoeKhoe lesson with Nadia. It was enjoyable; although I'm not sure it was useful. I learned how to say such practical phrases as: Anis di !upudi ora ge (They are the bird's raw eggs) and Sedeb ge !osa /asa a u. (Sedeb is taking the new axe.) I'm still hoping that it will improve her KhoeKhoe, but I'm not sure. In the mean time I can look forward to equally insightful lessons following the adventures of Sedeb, Abeb and Emas and their Mamas and Dadab. When I work my way through the grades 1 and 2 books I get to read stories about the jackal and the wild dog. Later on Wednesday a bunch of boys came to visit me (they were asking about homework, but I think that was a front. They really just wanted to talk.) They told me a bunch of different plants and how to use them for medicine, insisting that I should boil the !nab plant and drink it as a tea for upset stomach (!nab actually means stomach) or that I should eat the leaves of #autse!khannis if I am sick. It reminded me that these kids aren't dumb, they aren't even uneducated; they just have a deep knowledge of things that are not well valued by society. They know the names and uses of loads of plants (in KhoeKhoe of course.) They know the habits and mythology surrounding wild insects and animals (there is a species of massive ground cricket- think a cross between a cricket and a grasshopper at least six centimeters long- and they told me how it eats people if they die in the bush.) They know how to best grow mealies, how to slaughter and clean a goat, and how to re-plaster a house with mud and dung wattle. They take apart watches, clocks, and pens and adeptly put them back together. One of the few things they don't know is how read in English with comprehension. Unfortunately intimate knowledge of wild plants and animals is not highly valued with financial rewards and knowledge of English is. It's not fair, but it's true. On Wednesday someone brought ostrich meat in to tea time. Like most of the other strange meats I've eaten here—donkey, leguan, kudu—It
tasted like beef. The bones were pretty remarkably massive, though. Then during science class some kids brought in an almost dead bird. They wanted to know its name in English. We looked it up in one of the reference books (red-eyed bulbul) and I said that maybe it ran into something and broke it's wing. Those hopes were dashed, however, when they mimed shooting a bird with a slingshot (as my dad says, it ran into a rock.) I wrote a poem about it. It's not very
good, but what can you do?

Red-eyed Bulbul

Sunday events

Well, there was no church last Sunday. I don't know why. Someone said that there was another church being opened at a farm just down the way. I don't think the Catholic church held services either. I didn't hear any church bells. I got up on Sunday, made a rather disastrous batch of pancakes (for future reference, cornmeal is NOT a good substitute if you don't have quite enough white flour.), disposed of the results of that little experiment, ate oatmeal instead, had a hot bath, and got myself dressed up nicely for church. I was halfway there when some kids told me there was no church. So I went home, got into some jeans, made coffee and read half of my book. For lunch I had quesadillas with guacamole (I managed to find a nice avocado among the unappetizingly moldy produce in Kamanjab one week. It was hard as a rock. I've been saving it in my fridge and ripening it to the perfect consistency and on Saturday night, while I was stewing up a batch of chicken soup I made some guacamole.)

Teaching stories

Funny teaching stories—I was asking a kid some questions about The Three Little Pigs for the literacy project (that's how I check if they've actually read them or just looked at the pictures.) Anyway, she couldn't think of the word "breathe" so she said that the wolf "give carbon dioxide." The kids learn all of their school subjects (maths, science, social studies etc.) in English so they tend to have a better technical vocabulary in those subjects and they tend to be more deficient in ordinary everyday English words. This isn't really funny, but I had to take a rusty thumbtack away from a learner because she was picking at some scabs on her arm with it. The scabs spelled out "I Love You." Apparently some of the girls at the hostel had one beyond drawing on themselves with pens and decorating their faces with white-out dots (which I actually think looks really neat and exotic, although I'm sure it's pumping their systems full of white-out chemicals.) and had tried to decorate through self mutilation. They told me that the principal was very angry with them and told them not to do it again. Sometimes I really don't get these kids. If I were in America I would be seriously concerned about depression or mental health issues but the kids were really far too laize faire about it. I think they just are used to more violence in their lives. I don't know. But I do know that using rusty thumbtacks to pick off scabs is a very bad thing (can you say Tetanus?)


I've done a lot of reading these past weeks. I know I say that every week, but these 2 weeks I've done even more than usual. I finished A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson, How We are Hungry by Dave Eggers, My Antonia, How to be Good by Nick Hornby, G.K. Chesterton's What's Wrong with the World, and The Eyre Affair and I'm part of the way through My Son's Story. One of Matt's roommates from Khorixas came to do some things at the school. She works on Special Ed. and there's a deaf girl who they're trying to get into the school here. Anyway, she brought a bunch of really great books for me—some that I really wanted to read like The Eyre Affair, Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, and The Brothers Karamazov—they were sent by a couple of other volunteers who know my tendency to escape into the unfamiliar environment of a book to avoid the more immediate unfamiliar environment of my life.


On Monday one of the teachers brought in two soccer balls, a pump, and about a dozen small foam balls. Apparently a tourist at the fancy lodge near here brought them to donate to the nearest school. It was pretty neat. I don't know if I mentioned it before, but I'm a little fascinated by tourists. Unlike those in big towns I am rarely labeled tourist and I don't have to deal with them much so I have a lot less animosity than other volunteers. As such, whenever I'm in Otjiwarongo or hiking out of Anker I have a tendency to stare maybe a little too much. I don't know why I like them so much. I think maybe it's because they share a culture with me, but we have such different experiences of Namibia. I wonder what they think of this country. Or maybe I just like to show off. Either way, I like 'em.

That's the news here. Hope you all are doing well. Love you lots.

How YOU can help Edward //Garoeb Primary School (email from Amy)

Well, today we revive the topic:

How YOU can help Edward //Garoëb Primary School with a copier/printer:

About the school and Amy's home

This is the 8/9/06 update:
All the money for the copier has been collected! We now have $1100 (US) and have deposited it into an account with a non-profit organization called "GreatDeeds". Anyone who sent a check (even if it was made out to us) will get a receipt for their gift. This group also pledged an additional $900 (US) to pay for some future projects Amy will identify. As soon as Amy purchases the copier, they will send the money to her account. Thank you everyone who donated to this project. We will send photos and information to everyone as soon as we get it. We will also keep you up to date about future projects Amy may have.

This is the 8/4 /06 update:

There is some really good news about the copier project—it looks like we almost have enough to buy the copier. I’ll probably buy it when I get to Windhoek this term break. I am writing to Jason (the IT volunteer in Windhoek) about it. I want him to send me some info (if it isn’t too much trouble for him I’d really like to get a couple of choices so my headmaster and the people at my school feel like it’s their project and their choice and not the copier that the Peace Corps volunteer picked out and purchased.)

This is the 7/23/06 update

First of all, I talked to Jason who is the IT volunteer in Windhoek and he suggested that we try to get a copier-printer, which is like a regular computer inkjet printer with a scanner and a fax machine connected to it. He said that it breaks a lot less often and if it does break it’s a lot easier to fix, so it’s a better option for a school that is as rural as mine. The good news about this is that the machine is a lot less expensive than a regular copier. The bad news is that the toner cartridges are a little more expensive, but if we take some of the money that would have gone to buying the copier and buy some extra ink cartridges with it, it will still be cheaper than the other one. Here’s the breakdown

· Jason has a quote for a copier for N$4,830 (about US$745)

· He suggested that we add at least an extra N$1,000 (about US$150) for ink cartridges and some paper

· That means we need about US$900 to buy the copier, but a little extra for bank fees and any changes in the exchange rate would be a good thing too.

· My mother currently has collected about US$350 for the project (by the way, thank you so much everyone who has donated so far)

That means we need about US$550 more to buy the copier. Even if you only want to donate a few dollars, contact my parents. Lots of little donations can really add up. It was brought to my attention that I didn’t really give specifics about how to get a hold of my family to donate, so here you go. You can send the money or get more information from my mom and dad

Their email is ppedersen6 at charter dot net

They will collect the donations and once they have enough to cover the copier I’ll make a trip down to Windhoek and buy it with my American credit card. Jason has kindly offered to try to accompany me and the copier back to Anker to set it up and show everyone how to use it. My parents will use the donations to pay off my credit card. Thanks everyone for your support for me and for Anker. I really do appreciate it.

This is the original June 30th email announcing the project:

Edward //Garoëb Primary School is currently without any working copier (we used to have one that would break with surprising regularity about once a month for three to four weeks, but late last term it finally gave up the ghost and went to the place where all good copiers go--- the living room of my headmaster.) Now, I'm not sure you're aware of this, but it is incredibly difficult to teach without a copier--no worksheets, all tests are copied off of the board, and in classes without textbooks (and there are some) all lessons and homework of any kind must be meticulously copied into exercise books. We're all a little concerned about what we will do when exams start. The teachers have found a very old used copier for a little under N$3 000 (US$500) but even that is beyond the budget of the school. The current plan (if the copier is actually available.) is to put about US$200 down on it and pay the rest off later, all while keeping our fingers crossed that the machine actually works. Now, this is a workable plan, but it has many problems, not the least being that it is likely that the copier will not last long (as I said, it's very old), and it is possible that the debt might even last longer than the copier. This is a very fixable problem. Early this year while I was attempting to hunt down a cheap copier early this year I got a quote for a new copier from Minolta for N$10 000 (about US$1,500.) Now this is ridiculously beyond the budget of the school (if everyone paid their school fees, and they don't, the school would have a little over
US$3,000 for the budget for the year.) But I realized recently that it is not that much in an American context. Raising that much money is a very achievable goal. I am used to everyone asking me to "borrow them one dollar" so I know how annoying it is to be asked for money and I am very sorry that I am doing it to you, but it is all for a good cause and if you feel uncomfortable you can always close this email and pretend you never read it. If we, together, can raise US$2,000 that should cover the price of the copier, several ink cartridges, transport from Grootfontein, and possibly even a few reams of paper.

Some ideas for raising money---

*Put a tin in your school office, local shop, or church

*Have your church group, school, or office collect money

*Hold a bake sale or a garage sale

*Randomly ask friends, relatives, and complete strangers
for money. Yay!

Once you collect the money, talk to my mom. She is has wonderfully agreed to organize everything as they say, stateside, and she will figure out how to get the money to me. Once we get enough money several teachers will go to Grootfontein and buy the copierof thank you notes. Thank you for any help you can provide.

Information about Edward //Garoëb Primary School

· Edward //Garoëb Primary School is located in Anker, Namibia and serves roughly 300 students in the 1 st through 7th grades

· It is located in a very rural part of Namibia and although the students see wildlife often (one student asked me if they have elephants in America and when I told her "no" she gave a knowing nod and said, "Oh, just giraffes.") they don't often have contact with the outside world. Books can help provide that contact.

· About half of the student at the school live in the hostels (dorms for students who live too far away from the school) and many of the students have faced problems that result from the Aids crisis and the remnants of apartheid.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Hand drawn map of Amy's town: Anker, Namibia

Click to enlarge (you might need to click on it again to make it large enough to read). She said it is not meant to be to scale. Her house is on the center right.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Winter starts in Namibia

Winter solstice

As in most parts of the world, Namibia feels winter well before the official first day of winter. Today is the shortest day of the year lasting only 10 hours 45 minutes (in Windhoek). There have been no reports of rain, storms or floods like there were in January. June, July and August are the coolest and driest months of the year in Namibia. Amy reports that she has not seen any rain for a month or more and probably won't see any until September. Without much humidity, the nights get very cool and Amy recently bought a space heater as temperatures get down into the 30's and 40's. Without insulation or windows, it gets cold at night. Daytime temperatures can get into the 80's but 60's and 70's are more common.

Namibian Climate

  • Namibia has a dry climate typical of a semi-desert country, where droughts are a regular occurrence.

  • Days are generally warm to very hot, while nights are generally cool.

  • Midsummer temperature can rise to over 40ºC (104ºF)

  • Winter days are warm but dawn temperatures can drop to freezing.

  • Along the coast the cold Benguela current is also the prime determinant of the climate of the Namib, as it reduces rainfall and causes the omnipresent fog typical of the coast.

  • The rainy season lasts from October to April. The rest of the year is dry and cloudless.


namibia climate chart

All areas of Namibia average more than 300 days of sunshine a year!

Click to convert mm to inches

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Swakop and a few other things (email from Amy)

Hey Everyone,

My weekend in Swakopmund
So, I spent most of last weekend in Swakopmund. It was pretty great to see everyone and to do some fun stuff. I definitely am feeling refreshed. I didn't end up buying a comforter, but I did get a small space heater that looks a little like it's going to burn my house down (I give it the widest berth from anything flammable- my mosquito net mostly- that the cord will allow. I think it will be fine as long as I continue to be fastidious about it.) I watched two movies at the Swakop movie theatre (one of two theatres in the country)—Mission Impossible 3 (Mission Impossibler) and Tsotsi. Mission Impossible was really even more ridiculous than I expected (several of us decided that it's not called Mission Plausible for a reason—we think that they're going to have to break the laws of gravity next just to up the ante) but Tsotsi was amazing.

It's weird how familiar it felt. I mean, it's not like it is my life (the townships around Jo-burg are ridiculously violent in ways that all of Namibia is too rural to ever be) but it was definitely a different experience than it would have been 7 months ago. For one thing, the township didn't shock me—I am used to seeing townships. I know the houses made from metal scraps and cardboard and the rows of identical brick blocks with a door and two windows. I actually feel a lot more comfortable there than I do in the white suburbs where there are ridiculously enormous mansions well guarded by razor wire and electrified fences and by several massive dogs that would really like to rip your face off. The movie is in Zulu, Xhosa, and Afrikaans (possibly other languages but I know I heard those three) but I swear I heard words I recognized from KhoeKhoe. I guess the biggest thing was that I recognized the culture. I don't really know how to explain it because it's not clothing or dancing or anything, I just felt like I knew the characters deeper; like I had a better sense than I would have before about why they were doing things or how they were feeling. I saw little things in the way they said something, or in the sound of the music, or something. It just felt familiar. It was an amazing movie, if you're willing to watch something very difficult and personally challenging and are willing to deal with the subtitles and some harsh language, I highly recommend it.

Thoughts on charity and culture
I talked some to a few of the other volunteers about how weird it is to be used to our communities. He said that his village wouldn't look out of place in a Feed the Children commercial and really, if I'm honest my village wouldn't either. It confuses me and makes me angry, because I feel like it's not the whole truth. I mean, the word I hate is "hut." My village is ¾ traditional housing, but saying that it's mud huts sounds so denigrating, plus you go into some of those "huts" and they have electricity and a couch. Even if they don't have electricity they probably have a TV that they hook up to a car battery. I don't know, it's different than they make you think. Kids in my village are poor, but they'll make it. I've seen minor malnutrition (swollen bellies) and I know the kids are hungry, but no one is starving to death and quite honestly I think a lot of the malnutrition is partially because culturally kids get fed last and the smallest portions and so they don't get much meat because it is supposed to go to the adults. There's not a lot of money in my village, but you also need a lot less money to live in this country. Housing is really cheap (everyone in my village either gets inexpensive government housing or they have built houses with sticks and a dung/mud mixture, both of which are cheap, on communal land.) Subsistence farming can really go a long way if your diet is largely goat meat and mealie pap. I always wondered how it was even possible to live on $1 a day but now I see it. I could conceivably live on that amount if I had some goats, although it wouldn't be much fun. Sometimes I feel like some of these charities parade (black) Africans around like they're a visual aid and not a real person. The thing is that I know the temptation—it's easier to get money if you make it look like a Feed the Children commercial and it's easy to believe that the ends justify those means. I worry that I give in to it too much when I write letters requesting donations.

Back to Anker and watching a traditional house being built
The conference in Swakop was pretty good. I talked to Philomena and she's going to do a more advanced HIV/AIDs workshop in my community; one that talks about more than just the facts of AIDs, one that deals with how women can talk to their husbands and children about AIDs and how to negotiate and all sorts of just life skills. I managed to get back to my village in record time, on Sunday afternoon, because Stanely, the Peace Corps driver, gave me a ride all the way to my village. Marial, the Teacher Resource Center volunteer from Gobabis, came too. She was going to do some workshops or things at the school, but she forgot that she had to make a really important phone call, which is tough to do in Anker. I think, coming from a large city, she was a little shocked and frightened by the isolation of Anker. So I found a hike for her to Khorixas, just a few hours after she arrived. Oh, also I got to see some people making a new traditional house. The stick frame was up and they were mixing the sand/dung/mud mixture and rubbing it onto the walls with their hands. It was fun to see. Plus I impressed some old oumas with my KhoeKhoe abilities (I think I said something along the lines of "Friend to me is been coming originally to Gobabis" but it impressed them all the same. They were also quite taken with my Damara name, /Namdago, even more so when they learned that my English name means the same thing.)

From a previous e-mail in February: The day I sent my last email I got a new name. Mr. Ndjitezeua's (pronounced Tchew-i-te-zoo although all the school kids call him Mr. Aser) wife gave it to me on the car ride home. In Damara I am /Namdagos (the "/" represents a click at the front of your mouth, behind the teeth, it sounds a little like the "tch" you might use when you're scolding someone or calling a horse.) It means "person who I love" and I love it. Some of the hostel matrons have even taken to calling me by it. On that Saturday night Ms. Juliane who works at the hostel came over to use my oven. Her daughter was home from school for the weekend and she wanted to make her some of the vanilla flavoured biscuits. They are very easy to make and she was a little scornful that we weren't really baking since we could buy all of the ingredients here in Anker and didn't have to go to someplace like Kamanjab to get them. She was very pleased with my new name. "I'm going to call you /Namdagos and you watch how the other people look," she said. Anyway, she left me with a small bowl of biscuits and they are wonderful in the morning with coffee.

School and Rosaline
Anyway, not much has happened this week. We had several meetings for the cluster and for the upper primary teachers. I have been trying to get my personal files in order and I'm not exactly sure I have everything I'm supposed to have, but I'm pretty proud of what I do have. I've been reading a lot, I'm almost done with A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson and I think I'll start a book of short stories by Dave Eggers next. I was walking through the hostel grounds one day this week when Rosaline's mother stopped me and thanked me for everything I've done for Rosaline. It really almost made me cry because sometimes I feel like I'm failing these kids. I have at minimum 3 kids in one of my sixth grade classes who are functionally illiterate and probably at least another 3 in the other class and 5 or 6 in my 7th grade class. If it were just one or two of them I might be able to help them, but as it is I simply cannot give them the one on one attention they need. Anyway, Rosaline is really probably one of the cleverest learners at the school. She's in fourth grade and she speaks English (which only becomes the medium of instruction in fourth grade) better than most of my 7^th graders. It's not hard to try to help Rosaline, I just wish she could be in a better place because she could really do amazing things if she got a good education and I worry that she won't.

Day of the African Child
On Friday we celebrated the Day of the African Child which is a national holiday in Namibia (I was talking on the phone with my parents, telling them about it and one of the !Geiseb's daughters overheard me. She was really shocked when I told her that there is no Day of the African Child in America, which I really assumed should be self-evident from the term "African" in the holiday's name, but I guess not.) The kids put on a program out by the feeding program shelter under a camelthorn tree. Each grade presented something, usually a drama and a song. The dramas were mostly about the importance of education (including a song by the second graders to the tune of London Bridges with the lyrics "Education is the key, no education no future") although bizarrely the grade seven learners did a drama about menstruation. There was a lot of singing and dancing and the drum group did some African drumming and dances. A group of out of school youth did a few songs and dramas about HIV/AIDs (including a song that admonished, "Amanda listen to your father listen to your mother, don't wear mini skirts in that company, girls will be raped" I had to listen carefully because I wasn't sure I heard it correctly, but I'm almost positive those were the lyrics.) It went on for a long time. We started at 9:30 and I didn't get back to my house until around 1:30.

School inspection
Anyway, I'm doing pretty well. There was a lot of stress this week since I was a bit behind on my lesson planning, but I got caught up this weekend so I'm feeling pretty good about myself. I just found out that the school inspector will visit our school unannounced and check that everything is in order, that all of the paperwork is in place, that things are running the way they are supposed to, that sort of thing. So I organized my files better and made them look nicer. I get a little paranoid about the inspector since the meeting where the director of education said he wanted me to report on how the teachers weren't teaching correctly, but I feel better now that my files are in order, at least I personally should be beyond reproach, then I just have to cunningly sidestep inopportune questions like "Tell me why the teachers are terrible."

So that's my life. Not much going on right now, just normal teaching stuff. There is a get together in Otjiwarongo in a couple of weeks and I'm really looking forward to it. Hope everyone back at home is doing well.

Love you all lots.


PO Box 90
Kamanjab, Namibia

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Nam 25 PCV blogs and Namibian news for 5/18-6/17

Recent blog posts from some of Amy's teammates (58 Peace Corps Volunteers known as NAM 25) all across the country of Namibia:

Jason's page of Nam 25 blogger photos and links

Swakop, polio and elephants (6/7)
A few stories (6/3)
Photos of Amy (6/3)
Breaking up fights, checkers and yet another beauty contest (5/29)
Rafting on the Kunene river, packages and a few thoughts on international aid (5/21)

all vol conference, catching up...(6/13)
Some project info... (6/4)
Photos and the week continued (5/30)
A typical week in review (5/27)


Say hello, Wave goodbye (6/12)
Back posts from the month of May (6/5)

Thursday is a big day (6/13)
All Volunteer Conference 2006 (6/13)
Girls club at Danie Joubert (6/12)
Shout outs (5/26)
Back from holiday and back to work (5/22)
Beth's Namlish top ten list (5/2)

Memorable moments (6/13)
Lizzards and spiders and snakes oh my! (6/2)
Namibia is on Drudge (5/29)
Another goal (5/27)
Isn't Africa supposed to be hot? (5/25)
Sometimes you just have to laugh (5/21)
Mood swings (5/19)
New photos posted (5/19)

Mama's got the magic (6/5)
The River Wild (5/24)
And the Moscow Circus was in town (5/19)

June 2006 (6/5)



Baby time and photos of "Lucky" (6/17) NEW
Freakin computer! (6/15)
New posts also before this (6/11)
All volunteer conference (6/10)
Stress of Peace Corps (6/10)
Me at Vic Falls and other photos (6/10)
Meetings, meetings, meetings (5/31)
The market 5/5 (5/29)
Botswana safari 5/4 (5/29)
Long bus ride 5/1 & Boozin Vic Falls 5/3 (5/27)
M Bag and Water (5/17)
House update among other thoughts (5/16)

Posts about reconnect, Victoria Falls, bungee-jumping and Term 2 back to April (5/22)

Email to a friend about reconnect and the Fish River Canyon trip posted on her friend's blog (5/10)

All Volunteer Conference - including many photos (6/12)
The weekend (6/4) - plus new photos
Soccer (6/2)
Fast food (5/30)
Goodbye summer (5/29)
My shoes (5/22)
Shout out to Mariel's (and Dan's) parents (5/21)
More picts from the Naukluft trail (5/21)
Settling in (5/19)
Caught-Oops! (5/18)
Newspaper article (5/18)
The Naukluft Trail - 8 days of danger (5/18)

Pods (6/17) NEW
Feeling my White-ness (6/15)
New Start (6/14)
Jays Phat Mac (6/14)
What? Now that's stress... (6/12)
A snapshot of my thoughts (5/25)
Imagine (5/25)


Several backposts including a daily Fish River Canyon diary (6/3)

Day of the African Child (6/16) NEW
PCV's invade Swakopmund (6/12)
Photos (5/19)
Back from vacation (5/19)

A brand new blogger from NAM 25!
1st entry (6/5)
2nd Post... but not too informative (6/5)
More pictures (6/5)

The long-awaited cow slaughtering story (6/12)
Soccer (6/12)
Photos of the new soccer uniforms (scroll to the bottom of the page)

being the long-awaited update: the fish river post (5/26)

Long time, no post... (5/26)

Link to previous list of recent blogs (4/14-5/17)

Recent news from Namibia:
Was the Britney-to-Namibia story a Hoax? (6/17) - Washington Post
Polio cases hit the 60 mark (6/15) - The Namibian
115 year old man dies in the North (6/15) - The Namibian
Vaccinations ready to go (6/14) - New Era
Jobless rate officially at 36.7 percent (6/14) - The Namibian
Confusion about Hollywood donation (6/14) - New Era
Polio still spreading (6/13) - New Era
Brangelina and family leave Namibia (6/10) - CBS
NAM 24 PCV interviewed by his local paper (6/9) - PortsmouthHerald
Government launches crash Polio campaign as outbreak confirmed (6/8) - UNRIN
Jolie-Pitt press conference praises Namibia, promises future visits (6/7) - People
National alert and massive drive to stop polio (6/7) - the Namibian
Namibian Polio Outbreak leaves 7 dead 34 hospitalized (6/6) - Bloomberg
In praise of the maligned sweatshop (6/6) NY Times
Namibia suffers polio setback (6/6) BBC
Virus baffles officials (6/5) - The Namibian
Paralysis cases go up to 22 (6/5) - New Era
Brad and Angelina's baby lucky to be alive (5/31) FOX News (also read the next 2 articles)
Opinion: It's a Texas miracle Shiloh survived (6/5) -Namibian
Response: E-mail uprising over Friedman follies (6/2) - the Namibian
Country's HIV figures are not coming down says UNAIDs (6/2) - the Namibian
Mystery disease kills three (6/2) - the Namibian
Namibia to explore Kalahari truffle (6/2) -New Era
Namibian Widows suffer much more than the loss of their spouses (6/1) - LA Times
Charity follows Shiloh ($300K gift to Namibian hospitals) (5/30) - USA Today
Jolie-Pitt newborn puts little-known Namibia on tourism map (5/30) - USA Today
A star is born (5/30) - New Era
Cassinga refugee massacre remembered (5/26) - The Herald
Perhaps at Pentecost, the voices were singing (5/30) - Lutheran magazine
Country's right record unchanged: Amnesty International (5/30) - The Namibian
Brangelina: Namibia's Biggest Game (5/28) - Washington Post
Pitt and Jolie have a baby daughter (5/28) - BBC
Namibian governor dashes Brangelina rumors (5/25) - People Magazine
Governor to name "Brangelina" baby (5/24) - New Era
Saved by the rain (5/19) - Namibian Economist
Country's AIDs death toll (5/19) -New Era

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Swakop, polio, and elephants (email from Amy)

Hey y'all,

I just wanted to let you all know that I'm doing well. I'm in Swakopmund for the all PCV conference. So far no sightings of Brad and Angelina, but there are 99 volunteers so I keep running into more of THEM at every turn. I'm going to buy some nifty stuff that I can't get in Anker (I have to get fabric because the matrons at the school have decided that I need a WINTER traditional dress) and I'll have a full report for you all when I get back. In other news, Namibia has had an outbreak of polio (Don't worry--Peace Corps immunized us against everything except the common cold) and right now has like 50 cases so they're immunizing everyone in the whole country (it's the first time in 10 years that there's been a case.) Not Cool! Anyway, that's the news. Oh, on the way up here we saw 3 elephants not 40 meters away. They were taking a dust bath. I'll send pictures one of these days. I plan to enjoy the ocean, the desert, the shops and I suppose I'll go to a few sessions too :). I left my kids with work to do, I'm just hoping they aren't ripping the books apart or anything. OK- Much love, take care of yourselves

Saturday, June 03, 2006

A few stories (email from Amy)

Hey everyone,

It's been a pretty quiet week. A lot of teaching and that program where I give kids stickers for reading books has taken up a lot more time than I thought. All-PCV conference is next week. I'm going to try to get a hike out of Anker on Tuesday after I teach, but if that's impossible I'll have to start out Tuesday morning. The Peace Corps is picking me up at 10 in Kamanjab (well, that's what they say, but they're coming from Opuwo and the road to Opuwo is really bad. It's rare that you can make it without at least one flat tire.) Anyway, I don't think I'll be able to get in on Wednesday morning so I'll probably spend the night at Clementine's house.

I've been reading a lot this week (with all of the work, after school I go home and lock myself in my house away from kids and read.) I finished Orthodoxy and Heretics by GK Chesterton and I'm most of the way through My Son's Story by Nadine Gardiner. I also got a bit of mail from Jewell—a package with some yarn and some spice packets (stir fry-yum.) I was in Kamanjab yesterday and I bought some wool to knit myself some mittens (as I have said before, it gets cold in the morning) so I'll use the yarn for that. As I said, I went shopping yesterday and bought loads of stuff. It had been three weeks because of the beauty contest last week, so I was pretty cleaned out of food, otherwise I would have waited until after All-PCV but the other thing is that I'm not sure when my ride will go through Kamanjab and the supermarket isn't open on Sundays so I got about a month's worth of groceries. There were a lot animals out on the road. large springbok and a whole mess of warthogs ran into the road and we had to avoid them. I also saw some small bush foxes (I thought they were rabbits) and a giraffe.

I was teaching in science class about rainfall- how we measure it, etc. The book had a very nice San myth about why rains come and I asked the learners if they knew any stories about rain (I told them the story from early American literature about thunder coming from the giants playing ten-pin in the heavens) anyway, they told me a very curious story about a woman who built a boat and then the rains came and flooded the land and she floated while all of the rest of the people died. Ricardo, who told me the story, said he didn't know how to tell it in English, only in KhoeKhoe, but I'm going to get Nadia or Sendrella or one of the learners who's really good at English to tell it to me. I knew that flood stories were pretty universal, but I really want to know what's different about this one. Science has been a lot more fun this semester. I've been teaching about the seasons too. I took my roundest potato and painted it like the earth and stuck a pin in each end for the axis. Then, using a candle to represent the sun we talked about why there are seasons and also why there are days and nights. I'm not sure I made it very clear, but I tried. I think that at least the brighter learners got it, hopefully.

I was walking to the shop one day when I met a clot of small boys and I discovered a new game that the kids play. Usually the kids consign themselves to soccer played with a ball made out of trash tied tightly with a plastic bag and covered in a pair of socks, donkey cart played by tying two "reins" made out of long strings of rags to a couple of kids and running around, possibly lightly whipping them with another rag string, and various games played with toys ingeniously bent out of rusted wire. This group of boys was playing a different game, though. They were throwing rocks at an empty one litre beer bottle on the edge of the road. They kept aiming until they broke the bottle and then they all cheered. Ah, finally, a game that combines the innocent joys of a community with serious alcohol addiction problems with the practicality of increasing the amount of broken glass littering the ground where children walk barefoot.

Anyway, not much going on in my neck of the woods (or savannah.) Hope everything's going well for all of you.



PO Box 90

Kamanjab, Namibia


Thank you notes from Amy's kids

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Amy photos

Some pictures of Amy taken during reconnect in May from Amber's blog photo page

Link to Amber's blog