006 Sites Announced!
Posted on May 24, 2015
Written on May 24, 2015
I’m genuinely sorry there have been so few blog posts. That probably won’t change as long as my group is in Pre-Service Training( PST), not only because time is very limited, but internet access, for me, is extremely limited! It simply doesn’t work in my host home, so I have to depend on time away from classes and in internet cafes. Starting June 19 or so, I’ll be on my permanent site and will have much more time, and access, to make entries that are more what I plan – cultural comments, etc.
SITES ANNOUNCED! Wednesday of last week (May 20) the 31 people in my group (still no dropouts!) were given our site assignments! In my case, I am VERY happy with the job, and the site, but it is not at all where I had (kind of) hoped to be. As you’ll hear … no problem.
I’m going to be in Windhoek – the capital city of Namibia – assigned to the Penduka Trust, an NGO dedicated to assisting disadvantaged poor women, many of which are recovered Tuberculosis patients. The initial assignment will be to help some existing craftswomen start a business selling handcrafts in Wire Scupture and Beadwork (don’t know much more than that), and also to help get started a business using a brand-new peanut-butter machine and selling commercial peanut butter! I expect to be able to sample the product regularly. There are many more specific activities (poultry farming, textile products and embroidery, a vegetable garden, etc. that can also become Income Generating Activities (IGA’s) for the group. I’ll also be working with the trust, itself, in management training, grant/proposal requests, and lobbying with investors and governments for funding. I am – to put it mildly – VERY excited about the upcoming work. And nervous. It’s one thing to consult to large US corporations when the results of your work often disappear into the corporate morass. It’s kind of safe in a way. But this work is no-kidding important to the project and the people. I “know” it will work out well, but it’s kind of scary. This group has never worked with a Peace Corps volunteer so I’ll be establishing the relationships and systems from scratch – that is very good! And it matters. That feels good, and is scary.
Since I’ll be in Windhoek, I (with Cristal, who will be nearby me in Windhoek but on a different project) was given a special briefing on safety. Windhoek is a dangerous city in many ways, and the crime rate is increasing. The briefing, and the writeup of the location, made it seem that I was going to be living in a compound (which I am) that would prevent me from really being in open space and would restrict my ability to walk, hike, etc. We can’t go outside of the immediate area without using a company driver or a taxi, and only specific taxis at that. I literally couldn’t sleep early Thursday morning (woke up at 1:30, and never got back to sleep) worrying about feeling like I was going to be in a prison compound. Not fun.
So, on Saturday, the CED group (my group of 13) made a trip into Windhoek to pick up goods for some local business people we are working with, and they arranged to drive me by the location to put my mind at ease. To make a dramatic understatement, I am … at ease. The location is stunningly beautiful. I’ll have a bungalow (round brick walls and a thatched roof) of my own, and the compound is literally a resort! My front door opens onto a large and very beautiful lake, and I can’t see any signs of a city all the way to the horizon. It is blissfully quiet. About 30 meters away is a restaurant/bar with a dining room and a patio with seating for have a quiet drink, etc. And there is a small dock leading from the shore and a place to sit on the end of the dock and just enjoy the wildlife. There is a full-facility shared kitchen, which is more than fine with me since it will help me meet people, and Ill have a small refrigerator and hotplate in my bungalow. Hot running water, a shower, a small fridge in my room, etc. As my classmates say: “I hit the jackpot”, and ALL of them are planning to visit! That is REALLY good news, since my group is amazingly good.
I was overcome a bit realizing how lucky I was with this facility. I’ll post pictures when I can.
So – still hang in there, I just don’t have much flexibility at the moment but that will change the end of June. Meanwhile, celebrate with me since I think I’m coming up on two (at least) of the most enjoyable years of my life. If I can just get through PST…..
PLEASE WRITE! Yes, I would enjoy comments, and having you follow the blog site. But also, please do write emails. I’m getting very few of them and it is a foreign land, far away. My group of trainees here is absolutely fabulous, but hearing from my community in Sausalito and in the US is very welcomed. The same email addresses you’ve always used!
All my best – I have to get ready for an Afrikaan’s language test this week – Tuesday. Not worried, but it is a LOT of work!