Tuesday, March 29, 2011

omeya ogendje!

There is too much water! Ogongo is full. Water water everywhere. Ogongo Combined School was officially closed last Wednesday on account of too much water. The school grounds themselves were pretty flooded, but that wasn’t the main issue. The problem is that we have kids walking from pretty far to get to school. Some of these kids barely come up to my waist and were walking in water that was literally over their heads just to get to school. They would get there shivering and half dressed, trying to salvage their uniforms. How can I make them recite the times tables? Or practice using a mouse? I remember feeling like this when teaching in Chicago. It was obviously a very different situation, but after learning about some of the struggles my students were having at home, I just couldn’t wrap my head around making them care about using semi colons appropriately. Our principal made the right decision to close down the school until conditions improve and become much safer for our learners. Unfortunately, the term 1 exams are just around the corner so this is NOT an ideal time to be shut down. I guess floods don’t care about timing. Today was the first day it was actually dry since we have closed. I am hoping we can get in a few more 100% dry days and pick up where we left off on Monday.

For the past few days I have been staying with some other volunteers since everyone who could leave Ogongo did. Their place is not too far from mine and was pretty flooded as well. Fortunately for them, their learners don’t travel through dangerous waters to get to school so they were still up and running. It was an incredibly rainy couple of days. The ironic part was that they had absolutely no running water for the entire time that I was there. Their yard was flooded and there were people swimming 100 yards away, but the tap was bone dry! We made the best of it and ran around like fools in the pouring rain, washing our hair and collecting water to wash dishes. We even collected enough water to mop the floor! We did the best we could, but you can imagine after 5 days of rarely flushing the toilet, it can get a little gross. Needless to say, I was happy to get home today and take a nice shower and flush the toilet and wash my hands. It felt extremely luxurious! So now I am back home, wondering what to do with myself during this weird time off. I have some projects I’d like to keep working on and some assignments to complete for World Teach, but I know that I will start to go a little nuts after a couple of days. That being said, keep your emails and calls coming to check on my sanity please!

Ok, here are a few more things that have been happening lately:

*I took the bumpiest ride of my life to the weirdest Chinese restaurant/shopping area (I use that term loosely) I have ever been to. The food was incredible though, and I didn’t have to cook it myself!

*I heard R Kelly “Love Letter” at the KFC (yes, I was at KFC) in Oshakati and it made me smile

*I got my stipend and opened a bank account!!

*I bought a digital recorder so I can start doing some podcasting

*I watched a movie with my learners and just seeing their excitement and enthusiasm for it made me all warm and fuzzy J

*I got a ride in the back of a police truck, sitting next to two guys in handcuffs on their way to court for stealing.

* I rode 40km in the back of a bakkie (pick up truck) in the pouring rain…I hope to never do that one again

*As mentioned before, I washed my hair in the rain…twice.

*We made soft pretzels!! They were incredible.

*I’ve played in lots of puddles

*I’ve made lots of pancakes

*I’m teaching a few people at the college how to play guitar

*I taught a few learners how to play frisbee

*I am attempting to sew a vest with nice storage pockets out of traditional material for my hiking trip in April…just go with it…

*I bought some amazing traditional pots and a necklace from a coworker

*I ate caterpillars…not quite sure what to think about that yet.

So that’s pretty much it. Things are weird right now, but I will be sure to keep you posted on the status in Ogongo. For now, please keep Owamboland in your thoughts and prayers as many people’s lives are ravaged by these floods. I am safe and ok, so don’t worry about me. Just trying to keep my spirits up during this difficult time.

Hope springtime is coming to you guys soon! Thinking of you.


Monday, March 14, 2011


Hi friends! I realize that my punctual blog posts have been slipping as of late…I apologize for this. As many of you know, I was pretty sick as of late (I’m fine now), but I found myself neglecting using the internet since I was not getting myself into town to purchase more credit! In any case, I am better now and want to make sure I keep everyone posted on the Namibian news. I want to start with a brief story: I was marking some homework assignments (they don’t say “grading”) for my ICT class the other day. One question I had them answer was “What is Font?” Obviously I was looking for something along the lines of “how the words look on the screen” or “the style of typing”. Many of my learners supplied me with answers along these lines, but I got several (and I mean several) responses that said this: The receptacle for baptismal water at a church.
Several. Things like this make me laugh and also make me sad because obviously if they saw that definition in a dictionary, they didn’t make the connection that it has absolutely NOTHING to do with computers or computer skills. It did make me chuckle though.

Other updates…I am starting a school newspaper! I am really excited about this. I had created a current events bulletin board in the library and noticed that many people were really interested in it. I had been pondering what kind of project I wanted to start and a newspaper just seemed like a natural answer! Anyway, it is still in the very beginnings and probably won’t be really up and going until term 2. Term 2 is coming extremely fast! The last day of school is April 21 and before that, there are weeks of exams. That really cuts into teaching time and doesn’t really facilitate much extra curricular time. In any case, I am excited to be putting energy into something new and interesting.

On another note, my seeds have germinated in my garden! I think I mentioned before that I planted a few things in my backyard. Well, things are going well and hopefully in a couple of months I will have some fresh veggies!

Ok, now I need to backtrack…so I told you I was sick last week. Well, I missed a few days of school. Obviously when you are home sick from work, you are usually trying to sleep or rest, right? Well, that is exactly what I was doing, but after missing the first day, my rest was interrupted. At 8am the morning after a hellish, feverish night, there is incessant knocking on my door and voices outside my window. Some learners were coming to see if I was ok! It was both adorable and really freaking annoying since I was in my pajamas, looking like hell, trying to actually sleep after a sleepless night! All in all, it was really nice, but this happened many times before and after school on the days that I missed. I felt like I need to spruce myself up on my sick days since I was getting more company than I have had in 8 weeks here! Oh yeah, and one particularly crabby morning, a learner came into my house and knocked on my bedroom door! When I finally got up (cursing under my breath), she asked me if I could “help her a pencil” (lend her a pencil). I don’t really remember what I said, but I am certain it was a firm NO. More cultural differences that can be really funny and also extremely aggravating!

Other than that, I’ve made some new friends in different places and have just been trying to keep healthy and rested. I will try to put up some more pictures soon!

Love you all,