Footprinter report from Kirsty Scott in Otjikondo

hearts

I have now been in Otjikondo for almost 5 months and hope once I describe my day to day life here and some of the things I have been doing, you may understand why I have not written another report since leaving.

From the very beginning I have been welcomed, with open arms, into the lives of everybody here. On our first day me and my partner Alice were immediately invited to lunch with our hosts, Gilly and Reiner Stommel, and then taken on multiple tours of the small school village by both staff and learners.

Term started a few days after we had settled in and as the children began to return to the hostels I soon realised that our peaceful arrival in Otjikondo was merely the calm before the storm. I want to make it clear that I say this in the most positive way possible. The next three months were the busiest, most productive three months of my life.

Monday to Friday we co-teach Art and PT (Sport) lessons from 7am – 1pm. We then have two hours for lunch before afternoon activities begin. I teach remedial maths lessons for Grade 6’s and 7’s for an hour followed by two hours of ballet and dance. This takes me up until 6pm when I just about have the energy to plan future lessons or do extra rehearsals with the children before collapsing into bed.

assembly

At the weekends we are only half as busy; Friday nights involve TV supervision and Saturday mornings are for cleaning, handing out pocket money and helping in the shop. Sunday mornings are dedicated to Church and then helping the children write letters to their sponsors or letting them choose items of donated clothing from the ‘birthday cupboard’.

Although the work is very full on and the only real breaks I get are Saturday and Sunday afternoons, I wouldn’t have it any other way. If we ever have an afternoon off for some reason I now find myself getting bored very easily. Hopefully when I return home this will have changed my way of life; before I would have easily lay in bed watching Netflix all day but now I can’t even contemplate not leaving the house.

My accommodation is a million times nicer than I imagined. We each have our own rooms, bathrooms and a shared kitchen/living area in the Gap Flat. There is a courtyard outside with benches and even some grass! It’s a lovely place to live and I don’t think I fully appreciate how lucky we are to have it!

hostel

My diet has definitely improved since coming to Namibia. Each Friday we get a food order of items we have selected from a list given to us by Gilly from the supermarket in Outjo (a small town about 90km from Otjikondo). It includes basic vegetables, bread, meat and dairy products. As well as this we can help ourselves from the vegetable garden and to meat from the Stommel’s house. I end up eating more fruit and vegetables and less meat than I thought I would.

Foods seem to be a lot less processed here and the meat comes straight from the farm so is always good quality. We rarely buy sweets, chocolate and fizzy drinks from the shop so on the whole are very healthy. I remember Project Trust saying that you either have tough home life and slightly easier work or an easier home life and harder work. I am happy to say I have the latter as I think putting time and effort into my work is what I’m here to do.

The children here are very well behaved on the whole and I think this is due to the respect they have for the teachers and staff looking after them. They understand how lucky they are to be at the school, as it is one of the best primary schools in Namibia, and know that there are 200 other kids ready to take their place if they don’t behave.

This has definitely made teaching easier than I ever expected it to be. Don’t get me wrong, there are tough days and the children do act out, but the majority of the time they work really well. Something I’ve found difficult from the beginning, but more so now I’ve been here for a while, is finding the balance between being the children’s best friend and being their teacher.

me & al

I guess this is just something that comes with being a ‘GAP’ and it has it’s pros and cons. It means I’m able to go and play with the children and build relationships with them, but sometimes in class they do forget that we’re also their teachers.

Coming back after the Christmas holidays I am ready for and completely enthusiastic about going back to work. I really missed Otjikondo and the children whilst away and so far the new term has been brilliant. At the moment we are training for Sport’s Day (on Saturday) which is taken very seriously by both the learners and the staff and replaces all usual afternoon activities.

Everybody is split into two teams; Green and Yellow, to train in track and field events. On Saturday Otjikondo will be a sea of colour as the children show off their team in any way possible – we’ve even been told we can let them braid coloured wool into their hair in Art lessons.

Over the next few months we will be visited by our Project Trust Desk Officer, resume usual afternoon activities and begin working on one of our main projects this year; the school musical. I hope to keep you updated on the progress of this and my life in Otjikondo!

grass hut

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