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Pamwe: Service Learning in Africa
January 16 - February 18
This page covers the first five weeks of the program. For information on weeks 6-13, click here. This page was updated for the last time on February 18.
WINDHOEK- Number 1 on the map below.
The first Pamwe Namibia group, Elizabeth, Lindsay, Libby, Beth, Kathryn, and group leaders Kim and Paul arrived in Namibia at 2:15pm on Tuesday, January 16th. Unfortunately, our luggage did not. The next day the bags arrived as the group slowly recovered from jet lag. We began our journey at Penduka outside of Windhoek.
The group took a tour of Katatura, the large township outside of Windhoek, visiting an open market and a recycling project. It didn't take long to realize that Namibia is hot. Hydration is key. On Thursday we headed north to Waterberg.
WATERBERG- Number 2 on the map below. At the Waterberg Plateau Park we stayed at Okatjikona Environmental Center where we began our orientation. Along with studying Health and Safety and Cross-cultural adjustment, we took a hike and a game drive. The drive involved more driving than game, but we did see some Sable (an endangered antelope) and dinosaur footprints. On Monday, we drove to the Cheetah Conservation Fund(CCF) 44km east of Otjiwarongo. There we learned about all the work being done to preserve the cheetah in the wild. Namibia has the largest wild cheetah population in the world, estimated at 2 to 3,000. Currently there are 17 cheetahs at CCF, with 8 of them scheduled for release at some point. The others never learned to hunt and will remain at CCF. Some, like Chewbaaka pictured at right, serve as educational ambassadors helping to make people aware of the plight of the cheetah. One of the cheetahs was tranquilized to check a healing wound and we were able to see a wild (sleeping) cheetah up close. We were also there at feeding time. The next morning we helped remove thorn branches from one of the large cheetah enclosures. The thorns can easily puncture the pads on the cheetahs paws, thus fewer thorns mean less chance of injury.
Chewbaaka at CCF
OMARURU- Number 3 on the map below. HOMESTAY The first homestay experience went well. The participants became a part of their new families and shared in the daily events and tasks. They learned about Herero and Damara cultures and, through classes, were able to greet new friends in local languages. The participants tried local delicacies, like goat meat and omaere (sour milk). They also shared a few of their favorite foods (chocolate chip cookies and spaghetti) with
Beth with Armalinda and Yolande.
Lindsay and Tutu.
REGIONAL TRIPS On February 3rd we visited Brandberg Mountain, the highest mountain in Namibia (2573m). While we did not make a summit attempt we did visit the famous rock art in the area including the White Lady which is not a lady at all but believed to be the drawing of a young male preparing for his initiation to adulthood.
Libby, Lindsay, and Elizabeth with ancient rock art.
On Monday, February 11 we travelled to Omatjete, a small village approximately 60km from Omaruru. Omatjete is the communal area where many Herero families from Omaruru farm and keep their cattle. We visited Ozonduno, the home of our Omaruru Coordinator, Mr. Mike Tjirare, and learned about aspects of daily life in a rural area. We milked cows, rode a horse, and sampled some traditional foods.
Visiting the cattle in Ozonduno.
Paul learning to milk.
GUEST LECTURES The guest lecturer series was interesting. Mr Veii, the Erongo Regional Concillor, spoke about the history of Omaruru and current political situations. Mrs. Haaukuria taught us how to made traditional Herero bread over a fire and explained female traditions in the Herero culture. Thelma Van Rhyn, a local white businesswoman, discussed the challenges and benefits that tourism is having on Namibia and its traditional cultures. We also heard from members of two local organizations, one involved with HIV/AIDS education and the other involved in the care of AIDS patients. They spoke about the challenges that HIV is posing in Namibia and they also explained the positive work they are doing.
PROJECTS The participants have wrapped up their individual projects. Lindsay helped out at a kindergarten, Libby learned how to make traditional Herero dresses, and Beth helped teach math at local primary and secondary schools. Both Kathryn and Elizabeth were involved in public health. They assisted with the immunization of babies, physicals of children under ten, and the bathing of newborns in the hospital. In addition, the group has visited many AIDS patients in the hospital, bringing hand-made decorations and smiles to brighten their days.
We finished installing the playground at the community-run kindergarten in the residential area of Omaruru called Hakahana. The children are now enjoying their new swing, play tires, balance beam and jungle gym.
Kids on the jungle gym.
We finished a second project in Omaruru. We built seven small gardens for some of the elderly people who are caring for small children.
Building a garden fence.
Admiring a new garden.
Corn growing in a garden.
YOUTH EXCHANGE While in Omaruru we met with the Student Representative Committee (SRC) of S.I. !Gobs Secondary School on a weekly basis. During these meetings we taught each other about our various cultures, from dances and songs to history and traditional foods. We also played ultimate frisbee. Below is a photo of the
The SRCs and Pamwe Namibia participants.
REFLECTIONS During a group meeting we shared some initial impressions of Namibia. In no particular order:
Chickens scratching in the dust.
Laundry hanging on the line.
Clicking in Damara.
Huge starchy breakfasts.
Warm water for drinking.
Cool water for bathing.
Big blue sky.
And, of course, the heat.
MOVING ON On February 17 we had our farewell party in Omaruru. All of the host families and new friends we made were present. The participants were part of a Language Talent Show. They sang songs and did skits in Damara and Otjiherero. They also expressed their gratitude for being welcomed into the community. The braai (barbeque) was a success and everyone had their fill of meat and salads.
We left for Etosha on Monday morning.
Mama Natalia and Lindsay at party.
Participants dressed for their skits.
Our list of wild animals seen as of February 17: Baboons, Kudu, Impala, Sable, Giraffe, Warthog, Steenbok, Gemsbok (Oryx), Red Hartebeest, Black-backed Jackal, Cheetah, Springbok, Ostrich, and Desert Elephants.
Continue to Weeks 6-13
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