My Motivated Learners

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I have recently started teaching a course called Life Skills to the  grade 8’s once a week. It covers topics such as relationships, personal health, sexuality, study skills – which are greatly needed by these kids. While I feared the kids wouldn’t take it seriously as it is a non-promotional course (doesn’t matter if they pass or fail it) which requires them to open up and be honest, I was wrong. They have really taken to it and even appear to be enjoying it.  The colourful, brand new text books help too!

Last week’s topic was motivation. When we started the lesson, they had no idea what the word meant but by the end of it, they were giving honest answers about their own motivations. Their assignment was to divide a blank sheet of paper into four quarters and in each quarter they had to respond to the questions below. I was shocked by some of their extremely honest answers. So, I thought I would share some of their precious responses with you!

Why do I come to school?

• I want money. • Because if you don’t come to school, you will become a criminal. • To learn so you can know everything. • I come to school to know English to help grandmother by reading letter for her. • Don’t want to stay home and do work. • Want a car and to leave village.

What stops me from doing my best?

• Drink alcohol and you cannot learning. • When I am feeling hungry and become weak. • Sometime I just lazy. • When my eyes is not look when air is blowing and sun is shining – I need spectacles. • Sometimes I remember bad things that was happened to me long time ago. • I am very angry.

How can I do better?

• Speak English in class. • I can be serious with homework. • I can do better when I ask for support in prayer.

Why is school important?

• To have a good life. • When you go to school you make life easy. • To not have hunger. • You will become a leader at your village because you know a lot. • Because education is the key of life (which is the school slogan!). • After finish my school to return what my family have done for me. • It will help your family. If you are poor, you will become rich in mind.

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More Photos from Himbaland!

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Himba women relaxing in the shade

Young Himba girl wearing the white necklace that symbolizes virginity.

The Himba women were happy to hand us their babies. Problem is that they don't wear diapers - one of the other girls on the tour got peed on!

Bev and I in the back of a 'bakkie' leaving Himbaland

Marjolyn and I - having drinks and watching the sunset from Opuwo Country Lodge

Opuwo Country Lodge - view over the Opuwo hills

Hairy Pigs, Bare Chests and Hot Showers!

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I am sorry for my delay in writing this week but Bev and I just returned from a 5 day trip to north western Namibia. Our destination was Opuwo – the area of Namibia where the Himba tribes live. The Himba are famous for their practice of smearing read ochre over their bodies and their not-so-modest clothing.

Getting there and back required two days of travel each way, with multiple legs.  It was exhausting but thanks to Bev’s network of VSO volunteers, we had places to stay along the way (all with nice, hot showers!). Going there, we attempted to hike the gravel road along the north of the country, which proved to be very challenging as there were no private cars travelling through there. Fortunately, we got a couple hikes with the road workers who are building the tar road. We jumped in over-crowded cars, piled into the back of pick-up trucks, took kombis (which we waited 4 hours for it to fill) and even rode in a comfy, leather seated Toyota SUV with a sweet Afrikaner, Wally.

Bev and I squished in the back of a venture

Opuwo was drastically different from anything I had yet to see in Namibia. In the Herero language, the word Opuwo means “the end” as it is the last town in the north west and is surrounded by dry, arid wilderness. The town of 5000 people was hilly and very, very dusty. A variety of people live there – with different languages and dress, which made it the most interesting and dynamic place in Namibia so far. On the way to the supermarket, among the many Ovambo who have adopted Western dress, we saw a bunch of bare chested Himba women and some Herero ladies wearing their traditional Victorian dress. And unlike in my region, there were hairy pigs running loose everywhere (in addition to the typical cows, goats and donkeys!).

Dusty Opuwo

We stayed with a Dutch VSO volunteer, Marjolyn. She arranged a wonderful braai for us on Friday night with other volunteers and then took us to a local shebeen (bar) on Saturday night. I learned very quickly why she has been named the ‘Shabeen Queen’ by other volunteers! We brought pockets full of coins and monopolized the juke box all night. Good fun 🙂

On Sunday morning we had a tour of a Himba village by a guy, Jimmy, whose father was Himba. There were only 4 of us on the tour so it made for an authentic, intimate visit. The village we visited was about 17 km outside of town and was comprised of 5-6 huts, 50+ cattle and goats and approximately 20 Himba inhabitants. Each village is a family unit – one male and his multiple wives and children. They live off the land and have little reliance on the outside world.

Upon our arrival, Jimmy ran in to make sure it was okay that we come to visit and as is typical when visiting a village as a tourist, we brought bags of maize meal as an offering. At first, being in the village felt awkward and uncomfortable. The Himba don’t speak English so it was impossible to communicate with them without the help of Jimmy. We watched them do their morning ritual of milking the cows and preparing their yogurt for the following day. Then the women gathered together under a tree and sat combing the ends of their hair and passing the babies around, while the kids played.

 

First wife of the village

As usual, the kids were the easiest to connect with. One little boy, Catanga, was fascinated with my hair clip, so I clipped it in his hair. The kids wanted to learn our names and touch our hair and clothes. We didn’t get to see the main male of the tribe as he was away for the day.

 

The first wife invited us into her hut to have a look. It was small and very basic – mud floor with a fire pit in the middle. Her and her husband slept on an animal skin and had a couple blankets. She showed us how she applied the ochre – dabbing a butter-like substance in her hand and mixing in the ochre powder and then smearing it on her body. She would do this approximately twice daily and more often if it was a special day or ceremony. While the ochre protects them from the sun and mosquitoes, it was originally done for aesthetic reasons. Then she showed us how she deodorizes herself, her jewelry and clothing using the smoke of coals (Himba never bath or shower).

Well, that is all I can think of now…I will post more photos when I have more patience and I am sure I will post more as I remember things I missed. But I wanted to leave you with the quote of the weekend – said by Bev as she got out of the car on Saturday evening: “OMG! There’s a hairy pig out here, and it’s not my ex-husband!”

He Said My Name!!

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One of the biggest cons about spending a year away from home was missing Brayden’s second year of life.  I have been so lucky though, as Alisa and my Mom doing an amazing job at keeping me updated and involved in Bray’s life.  I receive weekly videos of him gabbing to ‘Tia’ and showing me his toys.  The photos and videos are bitter sweet – while receiving them often make my week, I can’t help from crying whenever he kisses the camera or says a new word! I miss him terribly.  He is becoming such a big boy… he walks and talks now…he’s into cars, dinosaurs, puts ketchup on everything and loves FRENCH FRIES!!!!  We are obviously related!

What a cutie! xoxo

And this week I got the greatest news… he said my name!  While visiting Kayla, he walked over to a photo of the three of us, pointed at me and said “Tia”!

Sick and Stir-crazy!

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I’ve been battling a cold since Wednesday and with Thursday as a holiday and Friday a sick day, I have been stuck in this house for four days!    Feeling better today though and was able to go for a walk to the river this morning.

The weather has been so inconsistent lately and it seems that many people are sick.  We have started the Namibian winter and it has been a lot colder than I thought it would be.  Some mornings it is 5 degrees – which seems a lot colder when you don’t have heat!  However, every day the sky is blue and the sun is strong and so by the afternoon, it reaches 27-30 degrees.

All this free time has allowed me to compile a list of things/activities I am missing most from home…

  • Swiss Chalet (and ANY take out)
  • Browsing Chapters
  • McCain frozen French fries
  • frozen yogurt
  • The Bachelor/Bachelorette (sadly, but I have to be honest!)
  • weekends at the cottage with Mom
  • Second Cup – not necessarily the coffee itself ( because I brought some with me) but the daily routine of getting my coffee or meeting people for coffee
  • lounging on the couch watching Law and Order with Kayla
  • free wireless internet (thanks to Dad and Jan)
  • the bustle of evenings at Oxford
  • The Keg dinners with my girls
  • hanging by the pool at Dad’s

While I am surrounded by raw nature and so much beauty, some days I really miss being in a city.  I long for an afternoon on Bloor Street.  I miss having access to anything … and as I write this, I realize how fortunate I am to have been born into a culture, country and family that has provided me with these opportunities.