Written on: 25 June 2015
Posted on: 25 June 2015
I know I’ve been very absent from this blog. That will change as of now – I can access internet much more easily, and am starting to get settled in my new/permanent site. Also my contact data is updated (see “Contact Me” in the menu at the top). I WELCOME personal contact – and especially “goody bags” if you are so inclined! Be aware that USPS delivery (by far the best way) takes 4-6 weeks. Don’t send frozen foods! It’s also not cheap, unfortunately. Call or visit the USPS for details – ask about the “standard package” deals for Namibian mail.
This posting will be brief, but more to follow very soon.
On 18 June my Group (41) was sworn in as official Peace Corps Volunteers. For the first time that anyone in Namibian PC can remember, all 31 of us made it through Pre-Service Training and were sworn in together! Way cool. The 31 of us are now scattered literally all over Namibia.
On 18 June, I was driven to Windhoek (capital of Namibia) and delivered to my new, permanent, site working with the Penduka Development Trust. I’ll describe the work very briefly, and will add more information within a few days.
The Penduka Development Trust was started around 1992 by Christien Roos of Holland to assist female recovering/recovered TB(Tuberculosis) patients in training them to earn a living making and selling crafts. I am very fortunate in that Christien is here, on site, through August and I’ve had the thoroughly enjoyable experience of getting to know her.
The Trust has expanded into two basic groups:
- The Lodge – a resort area that houses visitors in one of several lodging facilities, a restaurant, and work areas for the current employees (these are not current TB patients). Their crafts are truly extraordinary, and a wonderful example of African Art. Click HERE for example products.
- The TB Unit – an office about 2km away that currently has 24 field representatives who distribute daily TB medications. The TB unit is also responsible for training patients in crafts so they can find employment when they are fully cured.
The Trust has had several setbacks in the previous few years and needs help from any number of sources in management and organizational skills, internal reporting and control, and funding. My job is to become part of the Trust community (about 65 people at the moment), and become integrated into the surrounding community. The immediate community is Katutura a low-income area within Windhoek, and to some degree within Khomas, the region (similar to a State in the USA) which includes Windhoek.
I’ve spent the first four days at work getting familiar with the people, the locations (including single shack locations in some areas, clinics, major hospitals, and Trust offices), the office/craft folks, and field representatives handing out TB medication, daily, to hundreds of TB patients.
Parts of each day Tuesday and Wednesday were spent touring the local areas served by the field representatives. It was, and will continue to be, very difficult personally. I have never encountered such poverty and extreme hardship in living conditions. There is much more to say about this, and it will be addressed it in more detail in future posts. It can summed up into the statement that probably none of the readers of this blog are in contact with any similar community and living conditions in the United States. They do exist, of course, but most people I know are simply not in touch with them. I certainly wasn’t. The people literally have nothing to eat as a standard situation, live in shacks made of sheets of corrugated steel or cardboard/plywood, have no water, electricity, or sewage facilities. It is overwhelming, sad, and very difficult to comprehend. At the same time, the spirit and soul of the people I work with, and some of the patients I’ve encountered, is equally overwhelming and heartening.
My challenge in this blog will be to try to put some of what I experience in adjusting to the Africa I now live in, not the Africa that is in the documentaries, TV programs, and photographs. Descriptions of the culture, land, and the “real” Africa will also be addressed to the best of my ability. I’ll do my best.
In the midst of that, my living space is not what I expected or published on this blog earlier, but it is an absolutely wonderful combination of the “Africa Experience” I was hoping for, roughing it, conveniences, and thoroughly sufficient living conditions. All of this in a house made entirely of beer bottles and concrete! (Yup, photos later). I love it. And the view and setting is absolutely beautiful. I’m in the “middle” of Windhoek, in one of the poorest areas of the city, but the view out my windows and door is of a beautiful lake and hardly any buildings all the way to the horizon of low hills. It feels very rural, and is very safe with many conveniences, plus it is easy taxi distance from major shopping and city amenities in Windhoek. I am very, very fortunate!
And I hope I’ll be able to get hot water, soon! Cold showers suck.
More coming. I’m now able to spend time, and have internet access, to keep up on this blog.
All my best,