Post Title: 002_Priorities and Posting
Written Date: 15/04/26
Posted Date: 15/mm/dd
PRESCRIPT: Very slow connection, limited time, and large files I haven’t been able to reduce in size as yet. Bottom line: posting this WITHOUT the pictures it refers to! I”ll update with photos, later.
MINI-STORY: The saga of the Smart Phone. The same phone that disappeared in JFK decided to disappear, again, the second day in Okahandja in training. But I discovered I’m REALLY good at one thing; hiding valuables like passports and – um – cell phones in my baggage. When I got to my host family, six days later, I was “unpacking” (I use the term very loosely) and bumped into my cell phone, again, tucked away behind something so it wouldm’t get stolen. FINALLY (I thought), I’ll be on the internet – but AT&T in their infinite wisdom (translation: greed?) made the phone so that even if it unlocked it won’t make a hot spot if it’s not AT&T service. SOO, I bought a Namibian Samsung that works just fine for a hot spot! Yea! BUT – the cell signal at my host families’ home isn’t good enough to support a hot spot. So, for the next seven weeks until mid-June or so when I’m assigned a site, I’m without Internet service unless I can go to an Internet café, or somewhere to connect occasionally.
At the moment, I’m in a Volunteer’s home here in the area skipping soccer with my group so I can get caught up!
All of which brings me to this:
I’m going to have to generalize by necessity, so any of the statements are generally/directionally true but there are certainly exceptions. I’ll mention them if relevant.
BLOG UPDATES: The PST (Pre-Service Training – first three months) time is very demanding. We have classes 7:30 – 4:30 daily, six days a week, not much time off during that time, and have now started serious language training. I’m assigned Afrikaans (which means I’ll most likely be somewhere in mid-southern Namibia when assigned a site in June). We have to either walk to “class” (30 min minimum from where I am), or get a van that picks up in neighborhoods throughout Okahandja. Only 2 of the 31 trainees (like me) are close enough to have a 10-15 minute walk. We can’t be out after dark (about 6:00 nowadays) because it’s dangerous – more on that later at some point, and we are “almost” required to walk in pairs, at least. So it’s really hard to get to the internet for anything substantial. And EVERYTHING takes pre-planning and adjusting.
So, I’m prioritizing language study over blogging updates, although after almost two weeks here some of the hurdles are overcome and I should be able to actually post at least once a week. Plus if I can just drop on a short post through cell phone access I’ll do that. From what we are told, when we’re on site after PST (when I’m a sworn Peace Corps Volunteer instead of just a trainee), access should be more reliable and predictable.
LOCAL STUFF: The Namibian people are very friendly. Yet there is SOOOOO much I don’t understand! I went to church with part of my host family this morning; a Lutheran service, and three hours! It is an interesting combination of fairly strict ritual with a personal touch that I never saw in the US, even as a child in small churches in East Texas. There were 250-300 people in the service at a local church in the Nau-Aib section of Okahandja. It is religious service, but it’s also clearly a “center of community” event. They recognize birthdays, births, deaths, marriages, anniversaries, and visitors. The pastor at the beginning of the service pointed me out and asked if there was someone who could translate to English – there was. My neighbor, Staigh (pronounced “stay” but I’m not sure how it’s spelled) came with us.
MY HOST FAMILY: Francesca and Hans Fisch have made me a part of their family – all of the host families do this for the trainees that are assigned to them. They speak Afrikaans at home, and will be helping me learn the language when I can focus on it (which has to be soon!). When I got to the home on Thursday afternoon (we spent the first night on Wed night), there were twelve people in the small living room waiting for me! Francesca and Hans have four children of their own (12, 8, 3 and 1), and with other relatives living in the home, other children they are taking care of because parents have died, and neighbors, mothers, sisters, brothers, etc. the house is VERY busy all the time until about 8:00 PM.
Mildred (8) and Blessing (1) – Blessing isn’t too happy with being picked up! Blessing has been staring at me in between galumping around on her bottom – she’s trying to get herself to stand up without holding on to something but isn’t quite there yet. A week ago on Friday morning when I left the house, I waived to everyone and said “Totsiens” (pr: tote seens) which is “see you later”, and Blessing broke into a huge grin, dropping her pacifier in the process, and waived at me! Awwwwwww.
Last week, Thursday evening, when I walked around the corner to go to my home, Kito (3) saw me and came running down the street to see me with his arms out to be picked up and hugged! It was really nice. I’m known as “Opah” (grandfather) to the kids.
Kito(3). He is as this picture shows, quite a challenge for his mom and dad (and me on occasion).
Staigh and his wife, Wilhamina, with their son Xavier. Staigh almost lives with the Fisch’s, and was in fact raised by Francesca because his own mother died when he was very young. Death is a very, very common thing here. It will take some getting used to.
The Fisch home is MADE of love. It’s astounding. People flow in and out from the neighborhood constantly from about 6:30 AM until 7:30 PM. And whatever food isn’t eaten from the plates is put in a bucket and put outside and people needing food stop by and take some. I’ve learned about 18 names so far of people who seem to be there most of the time.
Peace Corps requires a separate room, with a door that locks and a window. I’m lucky in that I have a comfortable bed, and my host family provided bedding. Peace Corps provides a mosquito net and absolutely, unequivocally, requires that we use it! Period! Plus we are required to take Anti-Malaria pills daily. We are also required to lock our doors when we are gone, and it’s probably a good idea. Things we take for granted are WAY interesting to the kids, and they love to pick things up! We’ve had to have some rather serious moments (particularly for Kito) about this, but they are very respectful of older people (and I am, ahem, older!).
OK – I have to stop for now. I’m going to try and write more even if I can’t put it on the blog site right away, so hopefully will have more interesting and culturally informative words as we move forward.
Please let me know if there is anything specific you’d like to know about! My time to write is still very limited, but I’m keeping a list!
OH – and “FOLLOW” the blog site if you can. Button is on the upper left of the blog page. Then you’ll get an email when I post something, and I’ll know you’re following.