Day 17 (23-Nov 18h50)
What a contrast to yesterday! Even this morning, I was on the edge, now I feel so much better! I was picked up at eight this morning and taken to the school. There, I pretty much spent the whole day in the computer lab. I met several learners who have been very active in the computer lab, they helped me clean. I got a great deal of information from them as to what went on before and what they want to do in the future. The gist is this: they haven’t done a great deal, and want to learn as much as possible, playing games along the way. It’s going to be great working with and getting to know these youth.
The computer lab is in poor shape. Each computer has different software installed, and two of them are loaded to the brim with music. That, apparently, was Chris’ hobby, ripping CD’s that the learners brought onto the computers. Chris was the last volunteer to work here. I have pieced together that Chris was a good guy, but didn’t stay organized. Even the learners told me they noticed the computer lab getting dirty and disorganized, and wanted to learn more in classes.
So the bar has been set very low. As long as we’re not playing limbo, I should come through with great results.
Now, I’m getting organized. I’ve taken home what useful paperwork I could find. The computer office was a complete mess, and the only two organized binders I could find were irrelevant: one from years ago, the other from Chris’ previous post in the north. After gleaning what I can from them, I’m going to start on a flexible syllabus. It’s an idea I see in my head, but don’t yet know how to organize into words and action. The ultimate goal is to have enough detail planned so that more advanced learners are constantly challenged, while basic concepts are continuously introduced. Basically, it’s the youth who run the class.
Anyway, during the day I was visited by some Americans who are doing a study-abroad program. They are having a thanksgiving meal and invited me- I think I’ll go. After school, Hanna treated me to sand winches and a ride to the market to get more food and supplies. Hanna is completely awesome. She’s a great principle and a wonderful person. Her house is a hostel in itself; she houses youth in the area that don’t have family or need a place to stay. She’s also very active in church (her husband is a pastor) and women’s groups. She has the calm and thoughtful personality that I enjoy working with.
There were rainstorms today. It came without warning: enormous drops of water, first falling intermittently like warning shots across the bow, then in torrents like an invading army. It happened just as I was about to walk the 30 feet from the computer lab to the office. By the time I got to the office, I was drenched.
It continued to rain on and off like that most of the day. On the drive to the market, it hit again. It was very humerous watching the locals run in the rain. They looked like marathon runners, pacing themselves in moderate jog, it looked almost as if they were out for a daily run before work. Distances are so great out here that a flat-out run would do no good, thus an increase from walk to brisk jog is all that is required during the rain.
I also saw more of the location on the drive. Lines of houses made of metal siding and rotting wood. Some houses were pieced together with so many different materials that they looked like artwork, nearly assembled for viewing pleasure. Hanna gave me some background information on these areas. The government is re-settling people here from areas where it is too crowded or there are no services. In these areas, streets are blazed, lights are put up, cement out houses installed, and lots allocated. Most of the people who are relocated to these areas are jobless, and spend much of their days performing mundane tasks for little money. Out on the streets, chickens and roosters walk about, not aware that the houses the return to each night will, on one of those nights when the daily rations are not enough, turn them into a meal.
Never the less, the people here are still wonderful. As we passed, people smiled and waved, fully aware of what is going on, and making as much as possible out of what they have. It was difficult seeing all this. Especially after passing the nearby textile plant, which, as Hanna informed me, is owned by a multi-national corporation, undoubtedly taking advantage of the newly placed jobless population to pay such poor wages that food is barely affordable. It still is difficult to think about the countless thousands that are right now, outside my window, dealing with leaks in their roofs and splitting a pittance of food between a dozen family members. I’m not sure how to reconcile these thoughts, except to say that I am here because I was asked and because I am needed. I will do my part, for what it’s worth, and that is as much as I can do.
The rain is now a little more familiar, dribbling down in a monotonous tone that resembles its origin, a solid-grey sky. It’s cooled, but it seems no one is here to enjoy it. The birds have all taken shelter and are keeping to themselves, the youth have turned to entertainment inside their dorms, and even the city seems to have slowed down. There are no puddles here. The parched earth is thirsty enough to gulp every drop of water it receives, leaving none to collect. The result is an unnerving scene, massive amounts of water that drench the body, but utterly disappear into the ground. The horizon that used to display great mountains of distant clouds has now been engulfed by the grey. It’s now the rainy season in Windhoek.
Thursday, November 24, 2005
Day 17 (23-Nov 18h50)