Scottish Charity Number: SCO36069

26th November 2013

Katie Ingham – footprinter report from Namibia

Home | Footprinter Reports | Katie Ingham – footprinter report from Namibia

‘Life isnt about waiting for the storm to pass, it is about learning to dance in the rain.’

Well hello again, so I have been here in Omaruru for just over two months and it has been a hectic whirlwind. To call it a rollercoaster would be an understatement!

As I said before, the next step in my adventure was to attend training at Coll. This was a very intense week with a crash course about health, safety and teaching for the whole year overseas. I also met the other volunteers going to Namibia and my partner Kerry. There was certainly a lot to take in and after a farewell holiday with my family I was thrown headfirst into preparations for leaving. The to do lists seemed to be endless, time flew by and before I knew it I was standing at the airport with a rucksack I could hardly carry saying goodbye to my family! Again this brought on a mix of emotions, but to be honest none of it seemed real, it was like I was in some kind of dream.

After arriving in Johannesburg, we flew on to Windhoek (Namibias capital), where we experienced the African airline service as we arrived safely but our bags did not make an appearance, a regular occurence apparently (dont worry though this was sorted after a day or two). Our host Riette then picked us up and drove us to Omaruru; Riette is lovely and we knew immediately that she would be a good host. Omaruru is pretty, there is a supermarket, cafes and a few shops, as it is becoming a tourist stop off point. The standard of living here though is very divided; from a house with multiple rooms, electricity, running water, TV, full kitchen, to a one room house for an extended family with a cardboard fence. On the outskirts of Omaruru the houses look more like boxes, with corrugated metal and cardboard, stacked haphazardly on top of one another. The two extremes of living are definitely quite shocking. Riette was also telling me of the family lives of the children at school, a secure or good home life would be classed as having a home to go back to with a single parent figure that could provide food for you. Unfortunately not all pupils have this good home life, and struggle at home, quite a few have already experienced parents dying. This is hard for me to imagine and only makes me appreciate the amazing upbringing that I have been lucky to have.

The days here are different from school days in England! The school day begins at 7.00 a.m. and finishes at 1.00 p.m. After school I open the library for children to take books once a week. I also read with the younger ones in the afternoons. I managed to buy a netball in Windhoek, so have set up netball club twice a week, football twice a week and arts club in the afternoons too. The teaching side of the project I find very hard as some of the children are challenging and the respect levels seem to be different to that of an English school. Having said that, out of lessons the kids are great and I love them to bits! Especially as the younger children have decided that I am apparently their mum. I suppose I am a kind of stand in mum, giving hugs and asking them about their school day! Ever since the first ones saw me, they have been fascinated with my hair. They love trying it on their heads, stroking it, plaiting it (OUCH) they have also threatened to cut it off to stick it on their own heads!

The food is something I’m trying to adapt to as it is very different to what I’m used to. It tends to be more porridge (which is different to that at home) and so I’m trying to perfect recipes on the electric hob ring we have! I have experimented with chicken and rice, bolognaise, pork and noodles. AND on my birthday weekend, I baked a chocolate cake in a friends oven!! YUM. However the electricity can be temperamental, as can the water supply which keeps getting cut off, sometimes for days at a time.

All the hard work at the school is being balanced out by the incredible sights I’m seeing over here. So far I have visited Omaruru Game Lodge with Riette, met up with the volunteers in Windhoek, travelled to Swakopmund, Walvis Bay and even Etosha National Park! (We were about a foot away from an elephant!!) The trips away really demonstrate how beautiful the country is and I love exploring it. I especially like the evenings when we go for sundown, sitting on top of a hill and watching as the sky flares orange and red and then fades to darkness, there is something very calming about it.

The biggest challenge I’ve faced so far is my partner leaving the project. Unfortunately Kerry struggled with life in such a different country and  so on October 14th (my nineteenth birthday!) she returned home to England. I had been in touch by email with John Fraser, the desk officer for Namibia, and after careful consideration I decided to try and stay out on the project, and help Omaruru as best I could by myself. Project Trust send volunteers out in pairs so that it is much safer to travel around your adopted country, so that you have someone else to discuss things with – two brains being better than one – and someone to help pick you up when you’re feeling low.

Therefore being alone is definitely harder especially as I have some of Kerrys lessons as well as my own to teach now. So I’m trying to develop ways of coping on my own which I’m sure will be valuable skills for later life too. The other Namibia volunteers have been really supportive and I am really looking forward to seeing them all at Christmas, when we plan to do some more exploring of this wonderful country. So just four and a bit weeks to get through, then some quality time with my co-workers!! That will hopefully recharge my batteries ready for returning to the challenges the project brings in January.

Something that I keep reminding myself of is no matter how tough and stressful it can be, I hope I am helping out this community in some small way and helping to positively influence the lives of the children here. This is a once in a life time opportunity and I am extremely lucky to be experiencing it: the highs, the lows, and everything in between! Just like the Vivian Greene quote at the start of this report, Im getting a crash-course in learning to dance in the rain!

Katie Ingham

Omaruru Primary School


November 2013

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