A Travellerspoint blog

Tuesday August 2nd-Windhoek Welcome

August 2, 2011

sunny

On Tuesday, August 2nd our group went and met with Ministry of Education HIV/AIDS Management Unit. We had a discussion about the different types of programs that they are implementing in the schools around the country. One of the tools that they use are a series of books called "Window of Hope" that have activities, such as songs, stories, drawings and discussion groups, that attempt to give children an honest and realistic understanding of their changing bodies. It also helps students to protect themselves against unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. The books are divided by age groups starting in 4th grade with the Junior Windows and ending in 7th grade with Senior Windows. The Junior and Senior Windows are divided into smaller sections by color type: green, yellow, blue, red, purple, turquoise, lime green and orange. Interestingly, there is one book, the red book, that contains material that some parents feel is too informative when it comes to their children's sexually education.

Our next trip of the day was an introduction to the two schools our group would be spending some one-on-one time at later in the week. The first was St. Georges, a private Anglican school in the down-town area of Windhoek. The school is about 92 years old, but only recently opened a college (what we in the States refer to as High School). The school is very nice and many of the students who attend are children of politicians, ministry workers, and wealthily business owners. The second school was a 180 from the first; the A.I. Steenkamp School in the Katutura area of Windhoek. To compare, St. George's has a total of 469 students to A.I.'s 1,380. There are teacher assistances at St. George; something that is unheard of at A.I. The ratio of student to teacher in St. George's is around 21:1, but at A.I. it's more like 40:1. It will be interesting to hear about the different experiences the group will have with some of us going to St. George and others going to A.I.

In the afternoon we had lunch at a place called Penduka. Penduka was founded by Martha Muulyau and Christien Roos in 1992 as an organization to help disadvantaged women improve the standards of living for themselves, but also for their (extended) family and their immediate environment. This is achieved by staying close to the women and by allowing these women to earn a living by doing what they do best: making beautiful products. Penduka encourages these women to use their skillsĀ  to provide for themselves. The area is located on the Goreangab Dam, about ten kilometers outside Windhoek. They offer tours, lunches, and many beautiful products. They even have a mushroom garden, that doesn't smell all that great, but is totally worth looking at.

Finally, we went to an orphanage located in Katutura. The place in run by a woman named Mama Marie who takes care of 21 children between the ages of 1 and 17. The orphanage had close ties to people who work with CGE here in Namibia. After getting a short tour and meeting some of the people who volunteer their time there we got to play games with the children. At first they sang an introduction song to us were we each had to get into the middle of a circle and say our names and dance. Next we were taught a number of different games, some of which I was struggling to figure out the rules to but happily played. It was sad to have to leave them after only having spent about 30 min. getting to know them. The group is planing on making more trips there in the future.

Posted by AugsNamibia2011 13:47 Archived in Namibia Comments (0)

Monday August 1st, 2011

Sunshine, Sand, Angelina Jolie(?), and another LONG ride!

sunny

Good Morning to all our lovely blog followers!

Another sunshine-y and sandy day in Swakopmund! We woke up bright and early for another delicious breakfast at the Guest House and then we were off to the Mediclinic Cottage in Swakopmund. Where we met with the hospital manager. He informed us all about private hospitals in Namibia, and we were all very surprised to learn that in Namibia (and Africa in general) different aspects of the hospital are viewed as different businesses. For example, if I broke my leg, say... sandboarding? and I was taken to mediclinic I would first see a general emergency doctor, after they decided I need an X Ray on my leg I would go to an X Ray tech who then would send me to another doctor to get a cast on my leg. When I would receive my bill for this hospital trip it would NOT be just one huge, depressing bill, like in the USA. Instead, I would receive a depressing expensive bill for each individual service. The hospital does not pay the doctors and X Ray techs, instead they just provide the facilities for these people to practice in. I found this interesting and I am curious if this saves patients money, or cost them more in the big picture?

We then spoke with the hospital manager about the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Namibia and Africa in general. He, I would personally say, had a VERY laid back view of the crisis. He seemed to feel that it was under control and not as big as "the media hypes it to be." It is important to remember that he is a hospital manager at a private hospital, I feel like the story maybe different if we spoke to the manager of a public, government run hospital.

Our tour got pretty exciting when we found out about one famous celebrity who gave birth at the hospital though...drum roll.... Angelina Jolie! She gave birth to Shiloh Pitt at Mediclinic and apparently, from the story we heard it was quiteeee the operation. They had to sneak her and Brad in through the kitchen and all of the staff had to sign "silence" agreements. The hospital manager was very pleased with how well they had kept the secret and was very excited to show us the thank you card, as well as the ACTUAL room Angelina gave birth in.

After our tour of the hospital (and a very long visit to theee Angelina Jolie/Brad Pitt room and pictures...) we headed back to the downtown area of Swakopmund for a quick lunch and some shopping at the local market. Then we were back to the good ol' kombi for a 5 hour ride back to Windhoek.

Posted by AugsNamibia2011 02:57 Archived in Namibia Comments (0)

Sunday, July 31

Swakopmund

Sunday in Swakopmund:
Several of us woke up for an optional church service. The church is Christ Embassy, a Christian church held in a small hall. It was a new experience for most of us, having church in a hall. There was a lot of singing, Bible versus, testimonials from the congregation, and did I mention singing? It was a joyful celebration on a hot, dry, windy Sunday morning.

After church, our entire group went on a tour of Mandosa Township and the informal settlements on the outskirts of Swakopmund proper. Part of our tour included a stop to hear a talented group of a capella singers: Vocal Galore. We thoroughly enjoyed their singing, and they drew a crowd from the community as they performed. They informed us that they had just gotten back from performances in South Africa. How lucky we were to hear them! Other stops on the tour included a kindergarten (here it is essentially a childcare center) as well as a local Herero woman's house. She was kind enough to share her home, her story, and her clothes (a few of us tried on the Herero dress). Thank you!

Next up: free time! Such a rare treat on our journey. We walked around Swakopmund and some of us hit up the local internet cafe while several of us walked down to the Atlantic Ocean and got our feet wet. Fun! We then had lunch on the pier. Delicious!

We drove out to Dune 7 in the afternoon. Dune 7 is 7km from Swakopmund, along the coast just past Walvis Bay. Climbing Dune 7 is a popular tourist adventure. And what an adventure it was! It took most of us a while to climb to the top, with several stop-and-catch-your-breath moments along the way. The sand just kept slipping under our feet! We finally made it to the top, where we were graced with a stunning vantage point above the desert while being pelted by sand in our faces! It was incredibly windy at the top! After some minutes at the top being whipped in the wind, we made our descent. It was fun to run down the dune!

Our driver, Passat, took us to Walvis Bay to watch the sunset. Thanks Passat! The ocean at the bay was calm and the sunset was gorgeous. Just what we needed after a long day of sightseeing and getting worn out by our dune climb. After returning to Swakopmund, we washed the sand off and headed out to Kucki Pub for dinner.

Thanks for reading!
Elizabeth Reed

Posted by AugsNamibia2011 07:51 Archived in Namibia Comments (0)

Saturday, July 30

Etosha National Park

To Friends and Family

Today we took an early morning drive to the Etosha National Park. The Etosha National Park is located in the Kunene Region on the Northwest of Namibia. It is one of the most recognized national parks in Namibia. In Etosha, we observed many animals moving around in their environment. We went to Etosha the previous night, but in the morning, we saw more animals this time around. We were able to take a lot of photographs and videotape a lot of the animals there. These are the list of animals that we observed while we were at the national park:

1. Spring Bok Antelope
2. Giraffes
3. Zebras
4. Damara Dik Dik
5. Elephants
6. Gemsbok
7. Wildebeest
8. Ostrich
9. Black Faced Impala
10. Kudu
11. Black backed Jackal
12. Ground Squirrel
13. Lion

We saw a lot Spring Bok Antelope and Black Faced Impala but out of all the animals that we have observed, the most common animal that we saw was the giraffe. It was one of the first animals that we observed when we first arrived in Etosha. Some of them were hiding in the trees and there was one time when we saw groups of them galloping across the road that we were travelling on. The most interesting observation at the park was when we observed two female lions, five or six of their cubs and a male lion eating a giraffe. After observing the animals we stopped by the tourist site and purchased some postcards, books and other materials there.

Afterwards we headed out of Etosha. On our way to Swakopmund, we stopped by the Waterhole where we saw a Springbok Antelope roaming around the area. We arrived in Swakopmund at around 7:00 pm. We arrived at the Etholungsheim Guesthouse where we are staying for the time that we are in Swakopmend. After we unloaded our entire luggage there we then traveled to the Tug, which is one of the nicest restaurants in the city. It is located right by the Atlantic Ocean.
Ade Alabi

Here a link to a video that I made showing the animals that we saw at the Etosha National Park.

Animals at the Etosha National Park in Namibia

Posted by AugsNamibia2011 15:35 Archived in Namibia Comments (0)

Friday, July 29th

Ongwediva and Etosha National Park

77 °F

Hello Friends and Family!

After a quick breakfast at Etuna Guesthouse, we packed up our belongings and headed back to Charles Andersson School and Hashiyana School to spend more time in the classrooms. We were all in various classrooms throughout their primary schools; primary, here, means grades 1-7 and sometimes includes a preprimary class. Everyone enjoyed their experiences to the fullest and the one thing we noticed was how much joy and love the children have for the people and for life. Their fine motor skills were impeccable as well as their level of respect and obedience of the teachers. This was definitely an eye opening experience for us and we are happy to have the opportunity.

Lunchtime came and passed quickly as we were all eager to get on the road to Etosha National Park. A short one-hour drive and we were at the front gate- cameras out and ready! First we came across many springbok in the open fields, but what brought gasps out of our mouths were the multitude of giraffes alongside and crossing the roads. Along the way we also saw the following: wildebeests, zebras, black impalas, kudus, kori bustards, and dik diks (see pictures below).

As the sun began to set, we pulled into the Environmental Education Center where we stayed the night. We rushed out of the van and made a run for a tower that overlooked Etosha to watch the sunset. We had a wonderful braai that was cooked mostly by Romanus and Passat, which included chicken, beef, veggie burgers, veggies, potatoes, and baked beans. Delicious! The evening came to a close with a stargazing session on top of the tower where many of us saw shooting stars. We were amazed to see millions of stars horizon to horizon.

Thanks for reading and please come back for more of our adventures!

Ana Albrecht

4IMGP0184.jpgIMGP0427_2.jpgP1010974.jpgIMGP0319.jpgIMGP0423.jpgIMGP0393.jpg9IMGP0275.jpgIMGP0256.jpgIMGP0285.jpgIMGP0287.jpgP1010979.jpg

Posted by AugsNamibia2011 12:14 Archived in Namibia Comments (0)

(Entries 6 - 10 of 15) « Page 1 [2] 3 »