February 10, 2000 - Andover Townsman: Laura Wilson is a Peace Corps volunteer teaching in Namibia

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Namibia: Peace Corps Namibia : The Peace Corps in Namibia: February 10, 2000 - Andover Townsman: Laura Wilson is a Peace Corps volunteer teaching in Namibia

By Admin1 (admin) on Friday, August 15, 2003 - 10:26 am: Edit Post

Laura Wilson is a Peace Corps volunteer teaching in Namibia

Laura Wilson is a Peace Corps volunteer teaching in Namibia

AHS grad seeks local help for those in need

Editor, Townsman:

Like you, I grew up in the comfort of the Andover. Along with this privilege came access to an excellent education, including the chance to pursue any field of interest -- be it sports, politics, or service. I graduated from Andover High in '92, but it was only recently that I appreciated the full worth of my Andover education.

I am a Peace Corps volunteer teaching in Namibia. I knew little about the country before I came here last year. It shares its southern border with South Africa and northern with Angola. Formerly a part of South Africa, its people suffered years of apartheid under white separatists' rule.

Namibia recently gained its independence in 1990. During apartheid, legalized separation between blacks and whites meant that education was declared a "right" for whites and a "privilege" for blacks. Former all-black schools received little to no support from the government and were left to educate their students with what little resources they could find. Naturally, extracurricular activities such as sports were unheard of.

Ten years after independence, Namibia is striving to overcome the disadvantages that apartheid wrought on blacks. They are building pride in their nation through high standards in human rights, education for all, and strong democracy. They are searching for heroes upon whom to build their patriotism. When Namibian Frankie Fredericks earned a silver medal in the 1996 Olympics, he became a symbol of national pride and unity.

The school where I teach, Dibasen Junior Secondary School, struggles with textbooks and materials for its students. The parents of most of my students survive on about $20 (U.S.) per month, which they receive from the government. The unemployment rate in my village surpasses 75 percent.

Despite its lack of funds, the school attempts to run athletic programs to provide students with a balanced education. Students run on rocks and thorns in bare feet to train for national athletic competitions. Our "soccer field," at the center of village activity, is a cleared-off sand pit that supports the dreams of many village boys and girls.

Last year, four Dibasen students competed in a national marathon and placed second in the entire country. They each ran a 10k leg of the run in borrowed sneakers that had to be returned at the race's finish. Sports are beginning to offer students an extra outlet for their talents. But without proper equipment, my school is severely disadvantaged in competitions against better-endowed schools.

We are in dire need of sporting equipment. Your "old" tennis shoes that are out of fashion and dirty are our pots of gold. Outgrown soccer cleats, field hockey skirts -- whatever you can offer -- is gratefully accepted and appreciated. Our school specializes in soccer, volleyball, track and field, field hockey, boxing, net ball, and is beginning basketball this year.

Andover residents have always been generous to those in need. When I first sought your assistance in 1990 to attend a Yale Summer School Program, your giving was abundant. In 1997 your donations helped economically disadvantaged students in California to have a warm school uniform. I am seeking your help again. Any assistance you can give to the students of Dibasen Junior Secondary School in Namibia is appreciated more than you can ever imagine.


Laura Wilson


(The preceding letter was sent to the Andover Youth Council, which is conducting a clothing drive to support the people of Namibia and others in need. See story, page 26.)

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Story Source: Andover Townsman

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Namibia; PCV's in the Field - Namibia



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