March 3, 2003: Headlines: COS - Namibia: PCVs in the Field - Namibia: The Examiner : PCV Robert Hite doesn't find all the conveniences of home in Namibia, but it's not a hut either

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Namibia: Peace Corps Namibia : The Peace Corps in Namibia: March 3, 2003: Headlines: COS - Namibia: PCVs in the Field - Namibia: The Examiner : PCV Robert Hite doesn't find all the conveniences of home in Namibia, but it's not a hut either

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PCV Robert Hite doesn't find all the conveniences of home in Namibia, but it's not a hut either

PCV Robert Hite doesn't find all the conveniences of home in Namibia, but it's not a hut either

Not all the conveniences of home, but not a hut either

By Robert Hite

Special to The Examiner

Former Examiner reporter Robert Hite has been in the Peace Corps in Namibia since last August. He is writing an occasional letter back home to tell of his experiences.

When the U.S. Peace Corps invited me to be a volunteer in Namibia, my first visualization was of living in a grass hut with a dirt floor. I am not.

I live in a two-bedroom apartment, if you can call it that, with a roommate. We have a kitchen with a stove, a sink and a refrigerator just off the living room. Two two-seat wood frame love seats and a matching chair, all with cushions make up the living room furniture. There is also a wobbly wooden coffee table. I have glued it together after one leg broke. There is a television.

There is only one channel, but for a little more money a month we could tap into 52 channels.

The one channel gives me the chance to watch CNN Global Update an hour a day when I can. I also watch the American soap opera "The Bold and the Beautiful" and one from South Africa, "Generations." You can guess the content: Who's stabbing whom in the back, who's cheating on their spouse, etc., etc.

All of this is at the boy's hostel at the school Another question I had about my 27-month service was food. Would I be cooking over a fire?

How would I get food? Would the small town I would probably be living in have a grocery store?

There are a couple of "stores" in Witvlei. One is about the size of my living room in my apartment back in Independence. The other is about twice that size. A good-sized grocery store is in Gobabis, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) away. It has a bakery that makes fresh bread and pastries every day.

The first thing I do when I get to Gobabis is buy a doughnut with apricot filling. There is a lot of fruit ­ apples, bananas, peaches, and more, but no berries of any kind. There are a couple of aisles of canned foods, an aisle of frozen food, cold drinks ­ including Pepsi, Coke, Schweppes and Sprite. There are local and South African Cadbury chocolate. My favorite is "whole nut." There also is an aisle of toys, cards, stationery and the like. I go there every once in a while.

I get there by "hiking," the Namibian term for hitchhiking. Sometimes the wait for a ride can take longer than the ride itself. Sometimes the ride is in the back of a pickup truck, covered or uncovered. Other times I am lucky enough to get a ride in a BMW with Van Morrison, the Beatles or other popular music playing.

If I ever hear classical music, I'll let you know. It is here. I saw an advertisement for an opera performance in Windehoek, the capital.

It is inconvenient to have to do all that to get food. What's worse is washing my clothes. At first I had access to a washing machine. Then, someone washed my clothes out of kindness. I thought it was part of the culture. Then I found out they wanted me to pay them. So, I'm doing it myself ­ by hand.

That's one visualization of the Peace Corps experience I had before I came ­ and I was right.

When this story was prepared, here was the front page of PCOL magazine:

This Month's Issue: August 2004 This Month's Issue: August 2004
Teresa Heinz Kerry celebrates the Peace Corps Volunteer as one of the best faces America has ever projected in a speech to the Democratic Convention. The National Review disagreed and said that Heinz's celebration of the PCV was "truly offensive." What's your opinion and who can come up with the funniest caption for our Current Events Funny?

Exclusive: Director Vasquez speaks out in an op-ed published exclusively on the web by Peace Corps Online saying the Dayton Daily News' portrayal of Peace Corps "doesn't jibe with facts."

In other news, the NPCA makes the case for improving governance and explains the challenges facing the organization, RPCV Bob Shaconis says Peace Corps has been a "sacred cow", RPCV Shaun McNally picks up support for his Aug 10 primary and has a plan to win in Connecticut, and the movie "Open Water" based on the negligent deaths of two RPCVs in Australia opens August 6. Op-ed's by RPCVs: Cops of the World is not a good goal and Peace Corps must emphasize community development.

Read the stories and leave your comments.

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Story Source: The Examiner

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



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