Girl talk, Gossip and Giggles!


This is my last weekend in Namibia and in the midst of packing and organizing, I have had a bunch of female learners over to visit and taken some of my clothes and stuff I have collected over the year.  We played cards, ate, gossiped and laughed.

Yesterday I made breakfast for the leaders of Girl’s Group.  It was their first time having pancakes and they weren’t too sure how to eat them.  Namibian’s usually eat with their hands, so using cutlery is a novelty (especially a knife!) and it was hilarious watching them try to maneuver the knife and fork.  Eveline gave up and resorted to using her fingers!

Kalina and Eveline (who never gives me a nice smile for the camera!)

There are a bunch of girls that I am really going to miss.  One of them, Ritha, a grade 10, has a special place in my heart.  Unfortunately, she has had a difficult year as she faced a traumatic event in earlier in and confided in me.  We’ve written letters back and forth, she has come to visit many times; we’ve gotten very close.  Months ago, in an emotional and honest letter, she told me she was pregnant and was very, very upset with herself for letting it happen.  Since then, her boyfriend has left her, her father has kicked her out of the house and she is now living with her unemployed, alcoholic mother.   Naturally, she is terrified to become a mother, especially when she cannot support this child.  They have virtually no income – her mother gets a monthly government check equivalent to $45 CDN.  And she is worried that she won’t be able to become a nurse, which is her dream.  She wrote her grade 10 exams, fingers crossed she passed, and then she hopes to go back to school in 2013.  And she faces all of this with a huge, gorgeous smile!


Ritha and her cousin... look at those smiles!

With some of the donated funds I received before coming to Namibia, I have been able to buy her food monthly, provide her basic toiletries and today she left with bagfuls of stuff (something that is a huge no-no in the world of sustainable development, but I couldn’t let her suffer!).  Watching her walk away today was extremely difficult as I have no idea how she will manage, although I know she will.  I can’t help but wonder what more I could have done to help her, to help them all.

Anyways, it was a wonderful weekend and I have to say, I think I  am ready to leave Namibia!



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This is a topic that I have been interested in since I knew I was coming to Namibia and read past volunteer blogs.  All year, I have been trying to collect information on the subject but it hasn’t been easy.  Here’s what I’ve come up with:

  • Namibian’s definitely believe in witches and witchcraft.
  • If you are a witch, you don’t admit that you are.
  • In the area that I am living, there are at least two known witches.
  • Witches are active at night and don’t sleep.   Some of my learners have even said that this is why they don’t like going out at night.
  • Witches can put curses on families or individuals.
  • Curses are believed to be the cause of the recent death of a grade 3 girl at my school as well as a grade 8 girl that died last year.
  • Witch doctors are witches who have learned to use their powers to help people.

So many questions!  I have such a hard time wrapping my mind around this topic.

Based on what I have read online, belief in witchcraft is common in many parts of sub-Sahara Africa and more so in the rural areas.  In many areas, witchcraft accusations may be a direct reaction to the increase of AIDS-related illness and death.  Socially, it is much easier for a community to explain death by witchcraft than by AIDS.  Of course, this doesn’t help reduce the spread of AIDS or the belief in witchcraft!



Like most countries, Namibians have created their own version of English – commonly known as ‘Namlish’.  Recently, I have found myself using some of their expressions and know that if I was here much longer, they would stick.  Here is a guide to some of the words/phrases that Namibians use on a regular basis.

Phrases/Words Meaning
howz it? common greeting
I’m coming now  I am coming right back
Is is? multiple uses .  Can mean ‘really?’, ‘what?’ ‘are you sure?’
what what used when listing things, instead of saying etc.  For example:  “Once I got my diploma and what what, I can get a job.”
somehow Not sure of the meaning but it is used ANYTIME, thrown into any sentence and can mean anything.  For example “I am feeling somehow better?” or if you ask a learner how their weekend was, they will respond with “somehow”.
This side/that side When giving direction, left/right, north/south/east/west are not used.  It all boils down to “this side or that side”
Time is running  used when they want someone to hurry up
Are you having…? used instead of “Do you have…”  For example:  “Miss, are you having your camera today?”
running stomach  diarrhea – and kids have no trouble telling you they have a running stomach and have to leave the class
paining hurting    For example:  “My head is paining.”
Can you help me…? Can I borrow?  The kids are constantly saying “Can you help me a calculator?” or  “Can you help me $1?”
fall pregnant to get pregnant accidentally
How is the morning?


This is a direct translation from Rukwangali and means ‘how are you this morning?’
That learner is not serious.


Whenever a learner is acting up or fooling around, the teacher will say this
Can I go and relieve myself? Classic line used when the kids want to leave the class to go to the washroom
now now now When the word “now” is repeated three times, it means it will happen immediately.  For example, “The bell will ring now now now.”
now now Sometime in the near future
now Possible it will happen at some point.  For example “I am going to town now” probably means it isn’t happening anytime soon.


School Supplies:


cokey pen


solar tape





permanent marker


clear tape

chalk board eraser








Today I received the best gift ever from a learner. Unlike the mugs, candles or boxes of chocolate that teachers back home get in appreciation, I get food – fruit from fruit trees, chicken, fish. Today, it was a hunk of pork! Gabriel’s family slaughtered a pig over lunch today and so he brought me a big piece of fresh pork. It’s cooking in the oven now and it smells amazing! Ahhh, rural life.

I Love Tuesdays!

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In May, I started a Girls Group at my school for the grade 6 and 7 girls that runs every Tuesday afternoon.  After noticing the passive, submissive role that most girls play in and outside the classroom, I approached a couple grade 9 girls to see if they would help me lead a group for the younger girls.  They were immediately excited.  We decided that the mission for the group is to help build confidence among the girls, promote open discussion of issues young girls face and encourage girls to speak up.

Over the past six months, we have covered topics such as gender inequality, relationships, HIV/AIDS, teenage pregnancy as well as study tips, self-evaluation and the importance of using our voices.  We’ve done dramas, art, sang songs and played games.  And from the smiles on their faces, I am certain that the girls have enjoyed every minute of it.  As have I.

Grade 9 Leaders - They made signs to post around the school to encourage grade 6/7 girls to come every Tuesday.

These girls surprised me one Tuesday with a pre-prepared drama on the 'Dangers of Drinking Alcohol''. It was awesome!

Gorgeous - inside and out!

Painting was a huge hit. Once the banner was done, they painted each other!

My fear is that the group won’t continue once I leave, as there aren’t any female teachers at the school willing to dedicate one afternoon a week.  However, I have been working very closely with the grade 9 leaders to ensure they are prepared and  committed to continuing the group next year.  Thanks to all the wonderful donations I received before coming, I am able to provide all the materials they will need to run the group next year.  Fingers crossed!