Written and posted 3 February 2020
This is largely a “catch up” with my own situation. Future posts will include more information on projects, Africa, and other such items of interest.
I ended service with the Peace Corps on 17 August 2019. Staying in Namibia, I’m purchasing a property in Oranjemund and planning to stay there until a couple of projects are completed. Home is still in Sausalito, officially.
As positive as I am on thePeace Corps, I’m glad to no longer have it as the “bubble” I live within here in Africa. It is interesting how different things seem when I don’t have to be always aware of PC rules and reporting expectations. They aren’t unreasonable given that it is a government institution, but I find it easier to do the right things for my community without the overhead of expectations and reporting metrics that come with being a PC Volunteer.
If you are young, I strongly recommend volunteering – what you will get out of it is worth so much more than the time you spend in service. If you are older (as I am), I’d drop a line for a bit more of a conversation about what to expect and how to make your best decisions. I still think it’s a very good option, but there are things to consider as a 50+ volunteer that just don’t impact someone younger. The tag line “the hardest job you’ll ever love” is no joke. Take it seriously.
My primary project the first 2.5 years in Oranjemund was to set up OMD 2030 as a sustainable and self-governed NGO, working with Sue Cooper and Debbie Virting – both residents of Oranjemund. I am happy to say I have almost no direct impact on that NGO anymore outside of some clearly defined boundaries, and it is functioning as a healthy and growing non-profit NGO that was recently funded through 2020. One of my jobs is to work on funding beyond 2020, and I’m looking forward to helping out with that. While I still have an advisory role largely for financial affairs and for the Management Committee and governance, it simply isn’t my “baby” anymore. I couldn’t be happier about it. But it’s always hard to leave something you worked hard to start. All is as it should be, and this has been the plan from the beginning. You can keep up with it on www.OMD2030.com, or you can send me a return comment on this blog, or email firstname.lastname@example.org, asking to get copies of “The I”, the OMD 2030 newsletter published quarterly. It’s WAY cool what this citizen’s association has been able to accomplish.
Now that OMD 2030 is on its own, I’m concentrating on two major projects and a few smaller ones:
I’m still persevering in getting a National Museum started. The key displays will be based around the shipwreck of the “ Bom Jesus” in 1533 (you can see a short video). But the museum itself has a working title of “The //Kharas Cultural Museum (KCM)”, and will be an educational, cultural and research hub – by design. Unfortunately, it is really hard to get it going because the Namibia Government is facing severe financial and managerial challenges. I’ll post updates on this project as it (hopefully) starts to make some progress.
Locally, a few of us are working to start a Community Newsletter for Oranjemund. This is MUCH smaller in scope, but cannot succeed without community involvement. I’ll post some updates on this project, also.
A few of you have expressed an interest in contributing to projects over here. With thanks, I’m going to ask you to hold off until I have established an accountable, transparent and reliable structure to receive funds and ensure they go for the intended purpose. Stay tuned – particularly the Museum project will need all the help it can get, but we’re not ready to receive funds as yet. On the other hand, OMD 2030 is legally prepared to receive funding and if you want to contribute let me know and I’ll tell you how. It received a “no errors” financial audit by a chartered accountant in its first year of operation, and is in the process of being audited now for the second year – 2019. Copies of the audit reports are available – it’s like a 501.3.c non-profit organization in the USA.
As a non-Peace Corps Volunteer working in Africa, I’m content and facing all the normal stuff life throws at us. At the moment, I’m in Cape Town, South Africa, sitting in a coffee shop writing this. Some health issues came up (naturally as soon as I left the medical coverage of the Peace Corps) and very good health care is available in Cape Town. I should be back to Oranjemund next week.
I was fortunate to find a VERY good book that is filling my time while doing a lot of waiting here in Cape Town. “Fortunes of Africa: A 5,000 Year History of Wealth, Greed and Endeavour” (Martin Meredith). Coming from the USA we feel like we know a bit of history from studying the history of the USA and to some degree (if we were lucky) that of Western Europe. Having been in a small corner of Africa now for almost five years, I am just now realizing how rich is the history, and culture, of this continent. I highly recommend this book (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, others) if you have the slightest interest in opening your horizons to what goes on in the rest of the world outside of the bubbles all of us live in based on where we were born or grew up. The more I know, the more I realize I know so very little.
By the way, if you are interested in seeing the size of the United States vs. Africa, check out the image at True Size of Africa, but prepare to be humbled. I had no idea …
It’s been so long since I last posted. Sorry. I will (as always) try to be better. Maybe not so polished, but more frequent postings.
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Thanks for reading,