Sunday, July 30, 2006

Recent Nam 25 PCV blogs and Namibian news for June 18 to July 31

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

Another new blogger: Cynthia's Adventures in Namibia

Jason's page of Nam 25 blogger photos and links

The lodge, grant stuff and HIV/AIDs science class (7/28)
A shop and an African sunset (7/28)
Photos of Amy's grade 7 students (7/28)
Hymnal, apartheid and a soldering iron (7/21)
Photos of the hostel (7/21)
Updated information on the Anker copier project (7/23)
Photos from Amy's classroom (7/8)
Long weekend, a drive-through wedding and some traditional tea (7/8)
How you can help the Edward //Garoeb Primary school (6/30)
Polio (again), a dead bird and books (6/30)
Hand drawn map of Amy's town (6/27)
Swakop and a few other things (6/18)

Ward 16 (7/29)
Vacation (7/27)
Christina and Victor (6/24)

Apologies with photos (7/18)

Important, Re: Mail (7/30)
Peacin out (for a few days) (7/25)
Short ramblings ( 7/25)
Climb inside my mind (7/17)
Several posts about various subjects (7/3)
Best News EVER!!! (6/26)

Interesting meats eaten in Namibia (7/21)
Phenomenal women (7/13)
Dixon Chix Adventures in NAM (7/10)
Diversity Committee Education Tour (7/3)

Special Trip to town (7/20)
From July 16 (7/20)
From July 11 (7/20)
From June 24 (7/20)
Week of June 14 (7/20)
Trading Internet for Television (6/30)

African Time (7/26)
Thoughts (7/14)
Ruru Wish List (7/13)
Ruru-palooza (7/12)
Rachel (7/4)
Namibia is for lovers? (6/27)
Dress code (6/23)

Do the right thing. Do the wrong thing. Do nothing? (7/3)



User pic (7/23)
Our safari group (7/21)
Clean clothes and good music and hot water, who could ask for more? (7/18)
Little things (7/18)
Safari update for Stephanie (7/8)
Welcome to Namibia (6/23)
Random (6/23)
Almost (6/23)
The Journey (6/20)


I finally decided to start a blog (7/27)

Peace Corps Tour #1: The Lounge (7/30)
Just can't get enough of those computers (7/30)

Movie (7/27)
Getting political (7/26)
Water hoses, Babylon and Computers (7/23)
Internet Workshop (7/21)
Fixin computers (7/17)
Cockroaches (7/12)
Killin bugs (7/10)
Cake and Wrestling (7/4)
Food, friends and fun (6/26)
Shebeen showdown (6/19)
Another Week + photos (6/18)



Science Fair (7/16)
Afrikaner Party (7/16)
Coach Peterson? (6/30)
Bye Khori (6/30)
Learning to Fly (6/30)

Pics of the tree from the Wild Dog Case Episode (7/27)
My lament of iPod music lost (7/27)
Pepper spray for chalk? Maybe I am cracking (7/27)
These days are just packed (7/20)
Your online guides to Namilish (7/20)
Musings for the past couple of weeks (7/19)
Thomas Jefferson and Independance Day (7/19)
Newsweek day and my iPod (7/13)
Blog fixed (I think) and donkey carts (7/10)
I'm Online! (7/10)

Etosha photos (7/26)
Etosha! (7/26)
Traditional home in Owamboland (7/11)
My trip to Owamboland (7/11)
I'm not trying to get Polio (6/21)
Help, my camera is broken (6/19)

Photo drop (7/14)
a post while I had a chance (7/3)
So things are going OK in Nam (6/26)
Pictures (6/26)

Playing catch-up (7/21)
While I was in Swakopmund (6/23)

Some portraits (7/14)
Facilities (7/14)
Suppertime (7/14)
Locked and loaded (7/14)
Vic Falls Pictures (7/10)
Flying over the falls (7/10)
Otjituuo (7/7)
Soundtrack to my service (6/27)
Scenes from Tsumeb, Otjiwarongo and Keetmanshoop (6/23)
Death in the city (6/22)
Faces around Otjituuo (6/22)

Link to previous list of recent blogs (5/18-6/17)

Recent news from Namibia:
We have won the Polio battle, says govt (7/26) - The Namibian
Rural school in dire straits (7/24) - New Era
Mystery disease strikes school (7/24) - The Namibian
Population boom puts pressure on Namibian capital (7/23) - AND
Polio round two impresses health officials (7/21) - The Namibian
Namibia says Zimbabwe a role model for land reform (7/19) - Mail and Guardian
AIDs impact on the elderly (7/19) - The Namibian
Low polio turnout worries health officials (7/19) -The Namibian
Second anti-polio campaign starts tomorrow (7/17) - The Namibian
Nujoma drops atomic bombshell (7/17) - IOC
Nujoma a threatens with Atom Bombs (7/17) - The Namibian
Fuel price goes up again (7/17) - New Era
OPIC approves $25 million to finance Namibian diamond production (7/14) - US State Dept Info
Skills anorexia dogs Namibia (7/14) - New Era
Camp shows Namibian boys (from Nam 25 PCV Luke Heinkel's school in Opuwo) the American way of life (7/12) - Rhinelander Daily News
Conquering poverty lies in ones own hands (7/12) - New Era
Good rains boost water security through May 2008 (7/11) - New Era
Jellyfish population explosion (7/11) - IOL
Polio cases creep up (7/11) - The Namibian
Crop production hit by heavy rains (7/6) - The Namibian
PM confirms hostage claims (7/5) - New Era
Polio still on the increase (7/5) - New Era
More doses of polio vaccine arrive (7/4) - The Namibian
Hands off Zimbabwe, says Nujoma (7/3) - New Era
Windhoek relaxes rules for Shebeeners (6/30) - The Namibian
Polio cases top 147 (6/28) - New Era
Fascinating history of Shebeens (6/28) - New Era
Health officials plan for Polio round two (6/27) - The Namibian
Two Rhinos escape from Etosha (6/27) - The Namibian
After Pitt/Jolie, Namibia plans the world's largest barbeque (6/26) - Reuters
Nujoma lashes out at drunkards, shebeeners (6/26) - The Namibian
Parliment gets a roasting (6/23) - The Namibian
Namibian polio drive a success (6/23) - News 24
Polio immunization drive combats first outbreak in ten years (6/23) - UN News
The unique world of the Damaraland naked mole rat (6/23) Science news online
We hear you, but give us time, PM urges Shebeeners (6/21) - The Namibian
Opinion: Sheebeens are destructive - Reverend (6/21) - New Era
Satire: Brad Pitt to get dental checkup in Namibia (6/21) - Newsweek
HIV/AIDs Awareness website (6/20) - New Era
Door to door and farm to farm in the battle against polio (6/19) - Interpress
UNHRC in Namibia faces a cash crunch (6/19) - The Namibian
Should travellers to Namibia worry about Polio (6/20) - Health 24
Opinion: Crackdown on informal bars sparks protest (6/19) - UNIRIN
Education in a multiracial society (6/19) - New Era
Britney's wish to give birth in Namibia a possible hoax (6/18) - All headline news
Namibian beetle spawns new material (6/19) -

Friday, July 28, 2006

The lodge, grant stuff, and an HIV/AIDs science class (email from Amy)

To the Lodge

This weekend I'm going with the school's African Drumming and Culture Group to the nearby lodge. Lodges are like hotels or campgrounds out in the bush that have game drives and nighttime game watches (they're like hotels with wild animals.) This lodge borders the #Khoa //Hoas conservancy (it means elephant corner, for obvious reasons i.e. there are lots of elephants here) and it's only a few kilometers away from here. Anyway, the culture group is going to do some drumming, singing, and dancing for the tourists there. We're hoping that it will raise some money for the school. I made a brochure that I'm pretty proud of with information about the school, the projects we're doing, and some pictures of the kids and of the school (mostly the ones that I have sent to you all) and we're going to hand them out to the tourists so we don't have to beg too much for donations. We're going to be there from Saturday to Sunday and the kids are pretty excited about just going to the lodge. Actually, I'm pretty excited about it too. I'm really hoping they have hot water because that would be absolutely wonderful.

Window grant

Well, I am almost ready to send in my application for the windows grant to my APCD (Associate Peace Corps Director.) I will probably do it next week. I had yet more good news for this grant. I was reading through the reams and reams of grant paperwork that I have and I found out that children who are living in a hostel are, by definition, automatically vulnerable children, meaning that it is very possible that I can get PEPFAR (President's Emergency Plan For Aids Relief) money by claiming that it's "palliative care for OVCs (orphans and vulnerable children)" ---Yes I have reams and reams of paperwork that goes on with lists and lists of acronyms like that. That's what makes grant writing
so much fun. Then my APCD will review the grant and, hopefully sooner rather than later, send me suggestions. Then I will rewrite the whole thing and send it back and it will, hopefully, be approved by CD (Country Director.) Then we just have to buy the stuff and organize the volunteers to do the work. Nothing to it , really. Also, I found out that I skipped the kitchen in my initial count and I under counted the number of broken windows in the younger boys' hostel, so I'm now asking for the money to replace 550 broken window panes, 34 window latches, one window frame, and two handles. The quotations are still coming in. From what the teachers have said I'm guessing it will cost between US$1,500 and US$1,750 which I actually think we can get.

Computer grant

In bad news, my computer grant has skidded to a standstill because I called the computer refurbishment center and they seemed to have absolutely no idea what I was talking about. Here's how the telephone conversation went:

*ring* *ring*
the other person, "..."
Me "uh, hello?"
The other person "hello"
Me "um, we got a flyer from your company about computers for schools."
The other person "..."
Me "Does your company do that?"
The other person, "What did you say your school's name was?"
Me "um, I didn't say, but it's called Edward //Garoeb Primary School"
The other person, "OK, so you bought computers?"
And it continued in that same bent)

They told me that they would figure it out and call me back, but I am skeptical. Also, my problem with finding a source of funding has now shifted from the window project to the computer project. I think we'll have a tough time. I've been told not to even bother with Microsoft or Schoolnet for at least a year and I think we'll have a tough time with
some other Namibian organizations because we're a primary school (grades 1-7) not a combined school (grades 1-10.) Not sure what I'm going to do about that. Maybe I'll talk to my APCD. Maybe I'll just pretend that it's not a problem. That always seems to work. (Oh, I also just got an email from them. Maybe they actually are working on getting us a quote.)

An M-bag and stealing

Also, I got an M-Bag from my mom and dad and a donation from Random House UK---58 books from my mom and dad and 6 from Random House. The kids especially like the Children's World Atlas, the Picture Bibles, and the books about deadly animals (sharks, spiders, lions, snakes, etc) Thank you guys! (Plus the books from my childhood reminded me of home.) I've told the learners that I want the stealing to stop (I'm especially frustrated by the fact that they steal the press-stick that I use to stick up the posters. They like to chew it and then the posters fall off the walls as I'm teaching.) I talked to a few boys who stole some labels from the library and I told them that I wanted them to each write me a letter saying why stealing is wrong. One of the boys was pretty distraught. I felt bad for him. I think he felt really bad about it, but I've been having more problems with theft (just little things-pens, stickers, labels, press-stick, but they really add up and I don't want to let kids get away with it because it rewards those who are
doing bad things.


Let's see, what else happened this week? I hired some kids to clean my yard (for only a cup and a half of porridge with sugar each. I actually think I may have given them too much porridge. They seemed a little too happy with it and they have already insisted on cleaning my yard again next week. I worry about the kids, though. I don't want them to be hungry. Cleaning my yard is really just an excuse to break my own rule about food to learners.)


Next week is the week before exams and I can feel it. It's like I'm tired down to my bones and my lungs. I'm sick of
yelling at kids (next term I am going to amend my discipline policy yet again. I really wonder if I'll have to amend my discipline policy every term.) Plus the other teachers have stepped up corporal punishment which really undermines my discipline (if they do something wrong in Mr. Tjivahe's class and get beat, so they aren't going to do it there, they are going to do it in MY class where they'll only have to clean the library.) I'm still not sure what I'll do this break. I was thinking about going on the educational tour (like a week-long field trip) to Etosha, but I'm not sure I want to spend half my break with my seventh graders.

HIV/AIDs class

I need to finish up some stuff with the kids on HIV/AIDs in science class. The nice thing is that they've had all this information pounded into their heads, so it doesn't take very much to make it stick. I just
had to clear up some misconceptions (it cannot be spread by mosquitoes,
it can't be spread by being near someone with AIDs, etc.) and fight some of the stigma. We did a project where the learners tried to think of ways they could help people living with HIV/AIDs and their families and they came up with some really sweet things, including taking them to the clinic, giving them vegetables, telling their families not to be afraid of them, praying with them, and taking care of the children and orphans. Next week we're going to do some more activities about living positively (that's the term they use here for living a healthy, good life even if you are HIV-positive. It talks a lot about good nutrition, exercise, and healthy living as well as caring for secondary infections since those are things you can do even if you aren't on ARVs.(antiretro virus)

So that's pretty much the news for this week. I'll write again maybe after the weekend or on Sunday when I get back from the lodge. I hope everyone is doing well. Take care of yourselves.


PO Box 90
Kamanjab, Namibia

Shop and an African sunset

This is the shop that I usually frequent. The first picture is Ronnie Van Wyk and his wife. They own the shop. Ronnie is also a quite charasmatic elder at the church (he preached last Sunday) and his wife is a hostel matron.

The sunset is just outside my front gate at about 5:30 in the evening and the little girl was sitting there eating some bread so I snapped a photo of her.

Photos of Amy's Grade 7 students

These are my grade 7s. You can see why I am so tired after two periods (almost an hour and a half) with them. There are 37 of them. At the end there's a photo of some of the kindergarteners.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Photos of the hostel (where many of the school kids live)

Windows in the hostel

Matron in the hostel

Beds in the hostel

Windows in the dining hall

More windows

Showers in the hostel

Sinks in the hostel

Bathroom in the hostel

Hymnal, apartheid, and a soldering iron (email from Amy)

I tried to write earlier, but the phones were out in Anker. They were out for nearly two weeks. They go out pretty often. Sometimes I hate elephants.

Overnight guests

I got some groceries on Thursday, so I have lots of food now (I actually found sour cream not Omaere (sour milk with porridge) which will make the chilli I made taste better.) Then I came back and had my first overnight guests since I came to Anker. It was a VSO volunteer who I met over July 4th and a couple of members of the Opuwo youth group. They were here for one day working with the Anker youth group. They were planning on spending the night in tents in Mr. Geiseb's yard, but it is really really cold here at night (it's often only a few degrees above freezing.) Anyway, I was really glad to have them. I so rarely get to host people and it was nice to talk to another volunteer.

Trading Computer lessons for Chickens

This week I've been helping two of the teachers with computers that they got (this brings it to four working computers including mine in Anker.) They're doing some sort of computer class and the computers are part of that. I have now become the 24-7 tech wizard and since the problems are mostly easy things (installing drivers, registering Windows, etc.) I get to feel like I'm a genius without having to work too hard. I told Mr. Narebeb that I would give him computer lessons if he gives me chicken lessons (I really want to try to start raising a few egg laying chickens.)

Grants for new windows

I have been working on the grants that I've been writing. The computer grant is basically done. We just had to wait for the phones to come back on to get some quotations faxed to us (we're going to try to get 4 refurbished workstations and a refurbished server.) It's through a refurbished computer center and it's really not very expensive at all. I think the computers must be donated and they're mainly just trying to recoup the labour expenses. Also, this Wednesday I spent most of the school day touring the hostel and making notes on the damage (after my classes of course. I only have 4 classes on Wednesday, all at the beginning of school, so I have decided that on Wednesdays I will close the library and only work on grants.) Apparently about 1/3 of the windows panes in the hostel are broken or missing (which is lower than I thought. It looks like at least half are broken or missing.) In the school about 10% are broken or missing. I have been writing a grant for the windows and I'm really hoping that we can get the money for 507 window panes, some latches, and one window frame. I had some really great news this week. I had assumed that we would need some sort of builder to come in and do the work, but they told me that all you need is the window pane and putty and the teachers, school board members, and learners will do the work themselves. That would have been good news in and of itself, but also apparently the window panes cost N$12-15 each and the putty costs N$20 and covers 9 windows. That means the total project will cost under US$2,000 which is significantly less than I expected (I was guessing at least US$5,000.) My next task is to find some place that takes construction and rennovation grants from African

More grants

I also need to find some places to send the computer grant to and I suppose I should start looking for funding for the library furnishings grant I wrote (although it's sort of a secondary priority to the other two grants and it will be a lot easier to fund because I think we can paint AIDs ribbons on the shelves or something and get money from PEPFAR (there is a load of money out there if you can connect your project to HIV/Aids. I would love to get the windows funded by PEPFAR, but I can't figure out how to connect windows with AIDs except maybe to claim that the hostels care for a large number of AIDs orphans which, although true, is difficult to prove.) I like working on grants. It makes me feel a sense of accomplishment (which is much rarer in the classroom.) and I feel like it's something I can fix. It will be a long uphill battle for these windows--- I think that in the end grants are held together by a lot of hope and by people holding on with both hands and refusing to let go--- but at the end of it I truly believe that it will be successful. Not just that, I actually know what success looks like in that project--if there are windows it was a success, if there aren't then it wasn't.

Parent's day

Things aren't that easy in the classroom. We had a parent's day a few weeks ago and the mother of one child who is in my grade 6 class came. This kid has a lot of trouble with reading comprehension and with following directions. Anyway, his mom signed the register, taking a good five minutes and a lot of concentration to barely manage to shakily print her surname. It's the way things work in the homeland--apartheid's fingerprints. I guess I see it as pretty impressive that a kid whose parents can't read or write and have always been underpaid farm hands for white farmers can actually read and write with some understanding, not just in English, but in KhoeKhoe too. Anyway, grants are a nice break from those complications--an easier world where goals, even if they seem unscalable, are at least clear and measurable, with a predictable path to follow. Teaching English has not been that experience for me.


Church on Sunday was good. The women I was sitting next to kept tryingto hunt down a hymnal for me to sing from, taking one away from some ofthe church elders at the front at one point. They are always really happy when I sing in the church. Then, after church, when we all shake hands and there are announcements outside the church, they asked me my birthday and then they spoke very fast in KhoeKhoe. I definitely heard my name. I think, with my limited understanding of KhoeKhoe, that they are planning to take up a collection to buy a hymnal for me for my birthday. Sometimes I am really overwhelmed by generosity.

Namibian people groups

Last Monday I had my seventh graders give "My Favourite Things" speeches. Unfortunately I also had to warn them that it is NOT OK to write ethnic slurs against other tribes in their exercise books (one sixth grader wrote about how the Owambos steal cars, another seventh grader said something in his speech about the San (who used to be called Bushmen) and there seemed to be just general talk about the China(Chinese people) in Namibia.) It's really a little odd because the Damara are pretty low on the pecking order themselves (at least the way I see it. These are all my personal observations, not some sort of authoritative view of racial politics in Namibia. They don't represent the Peace Corps, American government, or really anybody's thought but my own.) They are black, unlike the whites, coloured people (here in Namibia and in South Africa that term refers to people of mixed ancestry, usually white and Nama. In America most coloured people would be considered white.), and the Namas, which, in this society still reeling from the scars of apartheid, means less economic power. They don't vote SWAPO (a political party—the South-West African People's Organisation, it's somewhat communistic, but Namibia is a democracy, they are just sympathetic to communism since communist countries, unlike the US, helped them win their freedom), unlike most of the Owambos, Caprivians, and the Cavongans. Most Damaras generally vote DTA, and in Namibia SWAPO is the only political party that has really any real power (it holds all but two or three seats in Parliament and the president, Hifikepunye Pohamba is SWAPO, as is Sam Nujoma (a controversial revolutionary hero—think George Washington, except with a lot more animosity aimed at him.)) The Hereros, who also have both of those strikes against them, are, I don't know how to explain it, prouder maybe. They tend to be suspicious of outsiders and they seem to have a strong pride in their own culture. I think it comes from a cultural identity that was scarred by the Herero massacre in the 1800s (a genocide when they were literally hunted down like animals and poisoned by people who they thought were helping them.)


Anyway, I wish there were less complicated racial and tribal politics. I wish my kids could see that fighting for a spot a little bit higher than the next tribe is what helped keep apartheid in place. I wish they could see that it splits them up from people who should be their natural allies (especially the San and Namas, KhoeKhoe and KhoeSan are languages that are very similar and the cultures have other similarities.) I also wish they would have more pride in their own identity. I hate that they straighten their hair and rub baby powder on their faces to look more "white." I hate it when they call each other "San" or "China" to make fun of each other. I wish they would know that their hair and their skin is beautiful just the way it is. I wish they would fight the true injustices instead of fighting each other. I don't know. I was talking to a friend who lives up in Opuwo and we were talking about how apartheid isn't really gone. So many people still have apartheid burned onto their soul. I think the worst part is that I know it will take many decades to heal. I mean, look at America. We're had 40 years since the end of injustice that was far less invasive than apartheid and we still haven't overcome many of the problems that it caused.

A soldering iron

OK, enough political talk. I got a package recently that had a soldering iron in it. I am pretty excited to try to use it to make a cell phone antenna (once I find where I put the plans) but I've already used it. I got sick of spending half of my classes playing Solomon and deciding between disputes over who owned a pen. So I told all of the 7^th graders to bring their pens to class and I used the iron to burn their names into the plastic. Hopefully it works because if I hear, "Miss, he is stealing my pen," one more time I think I might have to hurt someone.

End of the term tiredness

I was really really tired last week. I was longing for the weekend by Tuesday. I don't know what it was. I'm hoping I'll be better next week because we still have a good month left of the term (although really, it's only about 2 weeks of teaching and 2 weeks of exams.) So far it has been pretty good. I wrote my tests this week. I am worried that they are too hard and I am worried that they are too easy. I get all panicky about exams, even though the kids always do badly on them, regardless of whether I'm worried that they're too easy or too hard, so I suppose I
should just take a chill pill.

School politics

The inspector decided not to show up at our school for the school board elections due to "unavoidable circumstances." I think he just didn't want to come out into the middle of nowhere—my school, a nearby country school in Erwee and another school are pretty rural. He'd have to stay in Kamanjab and drive an hour\ or so in the mornings. Anyway, no one knows when we'll get the elections, but there is some tension in the village over the nominees because someone leaked info that one of them is going to get a job at the hostel. Any work (besides subsistence farming) is kind of fought over here. I don't know what's going on, but some people seem pretty angry.

Trading movies for maple syrup

In the package I also got a bunch of episodes of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 which I have been watching too quickly. In August I have to go to Windhoek for medical stuff (my mid-service physical and dental exam) and I'm going to bring them and some maple syrup (You can't get maple syrup here. My parents sent something called "Mapelene" that you boil with sugar and water to make syrup that tastes wonderfully like American fake maple syrup and apparently the little vial they sent makes 3 gallons of syrup, so I have enough.) because Jason, the volunteer in Windhoek has an enormous collection of movies and I'm hoping I can trade for some.

Polio lessons

In health news, my village got a new health worker this week. She showed up with loads and loads of posters and stuff about polio. So, with all of the info and everything, I decided that my 7th grade science class should take a break from alcohol abuse and talk about polio and how not to get it. We talked about washing your hands (a pretty foreign concept here-- plus one that's difficult to practice since water is hard to obtain if you don't live in government housing. Don't tell my principal, since we're not technically supposed to do this, but occationally kids come to my house with empty paint cans (yes, they carry water in empty paint cans) or 20 litre buckets and I let them fill them from my faucet.) We also talked about using a toilet or outhouse and not using a bush, since waste can seep into the groundwater (this is also a pretty foreign concept and, having been inside the school and hostel toilets, I understand why a kid would choose to go to the river instead.) Then we talked a bit about vaccines and how they work. They wanted to know why you can't take more than two drops of the polio vaccine and be REALLY protected and so we talked about germs and how vaccines are made from dead viruses and a little bit about anti-bodies (I said that the body makes the right type of weapon against each germ and if they have the right weapon already made they can fight off the disease quickly if they ever get it.) Anyway, it was pretty good, although one suggestion for what to do if you get sick with polio was to go to the witch doctor, so there is that. Still, they asked some very good questions and a few of them have even been washing their hands more (if they want to wash them after tea time, at the beginning of science class, I let them.) Oh, I also found an article in a Smithsonian magazine that the library had about the history of polio in America. It said that polio was supposed to be eradicated in 2005. Apparently not.

AIDs effects in my town

I know I don't always talk about the way that Aids affects my community, but that's partially because the stigma keeps a lot of people silent about their status. I have suspicions about people, and I know I teach a lot of orphans, but I have trouble judging the extent of it all. To give you an idea of what the pandemic is doing, this weekend my headmaster is gone planning the funeral of his brother, and two teachers are at funerals for members of their family, and this is an average weekend. Next weekend there will be another 2-4 funerals, and the weekend after
that the same.

OK, this was a really random email with lots of serious stuff. Sorry about that. Next time I promise I'll only write about funny teaching stories and cultural misunderstandings or something. Well, maybe not, but I'll be lighter next week at least. Take care of yourselves

PO Box 90
Kamanjab, Namibia

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Camp shows African boys the American way of life

Luke Heinkel is a Nam 25 PCV in Opuwo, just NW of Amy about 70 km.

Camp shows African boys the American way of life

Johannes Halunga, 14, and Aly Shatika, 17, both of Namibia, Africa, enjoy water sports at Camp Deerhorn near Rhinelander. (Photo by Chantel Balzell/Daily News)

Johannes Halunga, 14, and Aly Shatika, 17, are like brothers. They attend school together, they play together and they arrived at Camp Deerhorn together.

But unlike many campers at Camp Deerhorn, Halunga and Shatika flew in from Namibia, Africa.

“I was very excited, but nervous in the airplane,” Shatika said. “It would have been scary to come alone.”

For both Halunga and Shatika, their trip to Camp Deerhorn was the first time they left their villages in Southern Africa. Arrangements for the two to visit the camp were made by Luke Heinkel, a recent University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate who joined the Peace Corps and is teaching at their boarding school.

“I asked how was your country and said I wanted to be there to see how life is,” Shatika said.

Heinkel, a former camp counselor, wrote letters to the camp directors, asking if two or three students could temporarily stay. Heinkel also raised money to pay for their airfare expenses through online sources and various contacts.

“We thought it was a fantastic idea,” Camp Deerhorn owner and director Susan Broadbridge said.

Halunga and Shatika have stayed at the camp for almost a month now. When they talk about their experiences at Camp Deerhorn, their eyes glisten and they flash a conspicuous grim. From the the food, the activities at the camp and the American way of life, Halunga and Shatika say “it's very different.”

In Namibia, Halunga and Shatika attend a boarding school from first through tenth grade. Classes are from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., afternoon study is from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. and evening study is from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. When school is not in session, the two must wake up at 6 a.m. to plant “mahangu” or millet, which is used to make porridge. A typical Nambianmeal includes porridge and bread, and occasionally a small portion of chicken and rice. Sometimes, Halunga says, there is only enough for a spoonful of chicken.

“The food here is delicious, and there's so many different types of food,” Halunga said.

Camp Deerhorn has also exposed Halunga and Shatika to new outdoor activities such as softball, tennis, golfing, swimming, horseback riding, canoeing, hockey, skiing, basketball, riffling and arts and crafts. Back home, they mostly played soccer.

“The United States is a beautiful country,” Shatika said. “It's so green.” Here, they say they can carelessly lie under trees without worrying about wild animals. While the two disagree on whether or not there are cheetas in Namibia, both acknowledge that elephants, warthogs and lions reside there.

Although Halunga and Shatika are enjoying their stay here, they must fly back on July 15. Both say they are not looking forward to leaving, and hope to come back soon.

“Maybe in 2007,” Halunga says.

They will miss the counselors, assistant counselors, team coaches and the friends they made at the camp as well as watching television. “It's very cool here,” Hulanga said. Both are thankful for their opportunity to visit and for the treatment they have received at the camp. “The camp has wonderful people,” Shatika said. “May God bless them all.”

from Rhinelander Daily News July 12, 2006

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Photos of Amy's classroom

Long weekend, a drive-through wedding, and some traditional tea (email from Amy)

Long weekend in Otjiwarongo

It was a fun weekend in Otjiwarongo last week. I did basically everything I needed to do and it was great seeing everyone. At one point there were 24 of us sleeping at Megan's place. She has two extra bedrooms and a living room, but it was still a little tight, with seven sleeping bags stretched out across the floor in the room I was sleeping in. I finally bought a sleeping bag, which will definitely make for warmer nights, but I had to borrow a sleeping pad from Matt P who has about 5 of them. We had a braai (barbecue) and we bought almost a whole oryx and 6 lbs of beef brisket for N$12 (less than US$2) per person. We also made braai bread, potato salad, French silk pie, and lettuce salad so we had plenty of food to eat. We watched a bunch of movies—High Fidelity (I've just started to enjoy some books by Nick Hornby, so it was even more interesting), Sliding Doors, a bunch of Adult Swim cartoons, and Holes (that was my contribution.) I traded some books with other volunteers, I bought a copy of National Geographic, and I got some music from my friend Mike—Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel, U2, and a bunch of other hippie save-the-world kind of music.

Many letters

I mailed 55 letters asking companies for donations of books, magazines, and toys for the school and hostel, causing some of the other volunteers to label me a super volunteer which is funny since sometimes I feel intimidated by the quality of those same volunteers. I think we all feel like all of the other volunteers are better than we are sometimes. I sent the letters to book donation charities and to book publishers. I'm betting that I'll get a donation or a response from about 10% of publishers and from about 50% of charities which will mean 16 responses for the letters I sent.


I got my cell phone fixed which is probably really good for my mental health. I bought a new electric kettle (I kept the last one on one of the burners of my stove because it was the only flat place near enough to the outlet and I accidentally turned on the burner and melted it. It was not a good thing, since that's my main way of getting hot water. I MacGyvered a temporary fix that involved using duct tape to cover some exposed wires and hanging a one litre glass Coke bottle from the handle with twine, but now I'm just going to use that kettle to transfer water to my water filter.) I bought fabric because one of the hostel matrons said she would make me a traditional Damara dress for me if I brought her 6 metres of fabric. I also bought N$400 (US$60) worth of groceries including a bunch of fresh fruits and vegetables (marrows, squash, apples, mushrooms, onions, avocados) and some really good cheese and yogurt, plus some emergency supplies in case I get stuck in Anker (powdered milk, dried onions, frozen vegetables, extra phone cards, extra tins of canned tomato paste.) I now have a tendency to hoard food, making sure I buy extra non-perishables whenever I go to the store, regardless of my current food situation. Someone in my group said she thinks all PCVs have an unhealthy relationship with food and that's my little phobia—running out of food and being unable to get to the store.


At All-PCV conference we talked about a study that someone did showing that Peace Corps service is 3 times more stressful than the death of a spouse, 4 times more stressful than divorce and 5 times as stressful as being jailed, so really, other than a little hoarding, we should all be thankful that I am as well adjusted as I am, and that I haven't started doing really strange things---yet. Other than a few staples which I decided to buy in Anker instead of hauling them 300k and a few perishables each week, I should have enough food for about a month. I also bought supplies for the library and for teaching. I think I talked everyone's ears off. I have a tendency to do that when I'm around other volunteers. It comes from not having anyone even remotely near me. Luckily Silas (or as the Hereros in his area say, Silasah) was there and he's pretty isolated too, so we just talked each others ears off and everyone was happy.

Drive-through wedding

After a thoroughly enjoyable four day weekend, I headed home. I started looking for a hike at about 11. I ran into Luke who was also looking for a hike up to Opuwo and we got into a combi together, that's when things started going a little crazy. We got in at maybe 12 o'clock, then we drove around the location for 3 hours. By this time Luke and I were getting a little stir crazy so when they said they just needed to pick up a trailer from the location we decided to get out and wait at a park, figuring it would be nice to stretch our legs for a bit. We thought it would be a few minutes. They finally came back after 2 hours. Apparently the driver of the combi was a pastor and they made a turn by the church and—get this—he performed a marriage. Yes, he actually told a combi full of people that we were leaving, as they say here, now now and then went and performed a marriage. Only in Namibia. Anyway, since we headed out of Otjiwarongo 5 hours late I didn't get into Kamanjab in time to catch anyone going into Anker and I missed the first half of Tuesday. I decided not to feel bad about it because there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. I figured that leaving at 11 o'clock for a 3 hour journey would be enough, but apparently no.


I had three pack slips waiting for me when I got back. When I get packages I usually only get a pack slip at first. Then I sign it and I tell everyone I know in the village that I'm looking for someone who is going to Kamanjab. It usually takes 3 or 4 days to find someone. They get the packages and bring them to me. The long and short of it is that I don't know what's in the packages or who they're from yet. My headmaster, Mr. !Geiseb, is getting them, but he's in Otjiwarongo for the weekend, planning a funeral. I think two of them are boxes of donated books because they were sent to the school address. (Later addition to this email--I came over to the Geiseb's house and the packages were there- two from my family, including the one with food that we were afraid had gotten lost and one with a CD of photos and music and one from Little Brown and Company with donated books.)


This weekend I did a bit of cooking. I made Thai peanut sauce (with peanut butter, coconut milk, and some of the fresh produce I got in Otjiwarongo) and pizza on Friday and I plan to make chicken noodle soup and tortillas today or tomorrow. If I cook a lot of food on the weekends and keep it in the fridge I tend to eat more food during the week which is definitely better for me.

Funny teaching stories.

Kalina asked me on Wednesday if there was freedom in America. I think it's because I was telling everyone that July 4th was Independence Day in America. I'm not sure that she knows that we got it well over 200 years ago as opposed to 16 years ago. I also have run out of white chalk and we are fast running out of any colour other than dark brown, not a particularly helpful colour on battered green boards. I suppose I'll have to try to buy some in Kamanjab or Otjiwarongo if it gets really desperate. I keep holding out hope that we just lost a box or it's hiding somewhere in the school, but I have a feeling that the kids stole it all and ate it. They like to eat chalk and paper and chew press-stick (plasti-tack) like gum. Don't ask me why—I don't understand half the stuff that they do.

Traditional Tea

Oh, the kids also asked me for about the hundred and fiftieth time if I wasn't afraid to live alone and if I wasn't scared that people would send cats to bewitch me. In case you're wondering—no, that's not high on my list of worries. Some girls came to ask me about the English names of certain plants for their agriculture class. I am now something of an expert in the names of plants in the area just because they keep asking me all of the time. The girls told me that some of the plants are good for medicines and some you mix in with tea. Then the next day they brought me an armful of !oararasen. It looked like dried rosemary. You mix the leaves in with black tea (although I only had rooibos—a type of traditional southern African tea) and it tastes nice-- spicy and savory, like a mixture of mild cloves and thyme. It was very good.

So that was my week. I'm pretty sick of kids this week. I'm hoping that a nice weekend will be just what I need. Hope you all are doing well.