Scottish Charity Number: SCO36069
 

18th September 2014

Katie Ingham – Final Report

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How do I conclude this year? How do I manage to put this year into words? I will struggle but I will try

My main thought is I CANT BELIEVE ITS ALL OVER! I still have moments when Im walking down a street in my town wondering if it was all some amazing dream! Life back here suddenly seems so normal, predictable even – nothing has really happened and mostly life is trundling along as it was before I left. Yet here I am, having experienced something so amazing and incredible and wondering how do I fit back into this? Suddenly Im not running around after children, trying to run clubs, plan lessons and face challenges everyday. Everything has come to an abrupt stop, Ive been dropped back into normal life and Im not quite sure what to do with myself. I think it may take a while to adjust, even from my first coffee in CostaI was overwhelmed by how I could suddenly understand everyones conversations at once, because they were all speaking English! The constant rush of people, the sheer number of people, the noise of people, I even noticed how unusual white faces are, they look so different now.

The good thing about being home is now having an overview, looking back I can see how the year was split up into the three distinct terms, each term with its own highs and lows. The first term as you know, clouded by my partner leaving but brightened by everything being so new and interesting. The second term I certainly found hard in terms of home sickness, returning after Christmas to another eight months and not even starting off that term with a partner did seem extremely overwhelming, especially with the extra lessons and discipline problems at the school. But the third term – wow. This was certainly my favourite term, I relaxed and tried more things with them, and took risks that certainly paid off. I have done so much more in the final term than I thought possible with the children. I found that somehow they behaved better because I had got them fully engaged in the activities, I found that I had control over them finally and in return they had much more enjoyable lessons and were trusted to do more things. Also half way through the final term we got paint! Which led to some (admittedly rather stressful) papier machee and painting masks lessons!

Now that I can look at the year as a whole, I have actually shocked myself at how their behaviour has changed. From disrespectful, fighting, not listening or working in the first term to finally behaving well, even cheering as I entered the classroom and genuinely enjoying the lessons. I felt like I got so much more out of the third term, as did the children. I can also see though that I could not have got to that stage without going through the first and second terms, which is what proves to me how a 12 month placement is so necessary to get a full picture of my project. If I had left when my partner did, or after the first term or even the second, I would have returned with very different memories and views. So although it may seem like a long time to get to that point of gaining respect, it was very much worth it, I could laugh and joke with the children, but when I was serious they knew it was time to work. All in all by the third term I felt completely settled in teaching, running clubs, and living in the community.

The clubs continued through the third term too, with an addition of some volleyball sessions as I managed to buy a volleyball to use, I think they enjoyed this experience too! The Arts club have also been doing well, as I said before the children were making Christmas and Easter cards and sending some to England. Some of them got replies and or cards sent back to them, which they got quite excited about. I also finally managed to find enough cardboard so that we could make some cardboard dolls, because the children were using their toothbrushes to play with. The girls loved this and it was so good to see them finally playing with dolls rather than toothbrushes, and running along the grass with their new friends.

The letters that we sent back from Grade 5 were received by the school in England. They then wrote some replies to the students in Namibia and sent pictures – much to our excitement! So we have once again written letters in reply, which I have brought home with me. It was so lovely for the Namibian children to experience writing letters, practicing so many skills but also knowing that they would be read by an English child! Many letters begin with will you be my best friend I will be yours and I will visit you one day! It was especially exciting for some who haven’t even gone out of the region to realise that their letter was being sent 7000 miles away to a whole new continent!

Before I left I gave my clothes to the children which caused much excitement as you would expect! I chose to give mainly to a few who hardly had clothes. It was so touching to see one child, Uendjama who hasnt had any new clothes, given a pair of shorts I had bought from Namibia that still had the label on. She didnt quite know what to do, but she put them on and started parading around the room with excitement!

I feel that I have made some really strong friendships whilst being in Namibia, and with the final term being so enjoyable I found it heart wrenching when it came to saying goodbye. In my leaving assembly I had prayers and such nice things said about me. I was especially touched by the two speeches by the Principal and two children who spoke on behalf of the school. Along with the customary goodbye song they also sang a song, Pay attention! which I had taught them in one of my lessons. I was overwhelmed by the letters I received and they gave me a mini bible and cross to keep me safe whilst travelling home. Before I left, Grade 7 also sang for me goodbye my dear Miss Katie a song which one boy had written for me. Saying goodbye to all the teachers and people in the community was just as heart wrenching as they have been such a part of my life for the past year and have been so supportive to me throughout everything, it seems wrong to have to say goodbye as it is the place that I call my home.

Its certainly not goodbye forever though, they say once you go to Namibia you always end up going back, and for me I am sure of it.

I would just therefore like to end on a huge THANK YOU. Your extremely generous financial support gave me the opportunity to have this unique lifetime experience, one that hopefully impacted upon the children and people I met in Namibia as much as it did on me. The memories will stay with me forever, and I send my good luck to the volunteers you support in the future.

All the best

Katie

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