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!

Serenity in Swakopmund!


I made the smart decision to get away for a week and visit the sea-side town of Swakopmund, with a couple other volunteers.  It has been a week of catching up, relaxing, eating and sitting at the beach.  The weather here has been cool and breezy – a nice break from the desert-like temperatures in the village.  However, not too cold for ice cream – and lots of it!

Enjoying some quality Hannah time


Trying to get close to a cute, lone seal on the beach

Margarita night!

This weekend we head to Windhoek for our End of Service conference with the rest of the volunteers from our group.  Can’t believe we are starting to prepare to come home!




When I arrived at school this morning there was a buzz amongst the learners and teachers.  Immediately, Mr. Dennis ran over to tell me that there was a dead crocodile on the bank of the river by the school.


Needless to say, it was the talk of the village.  The crocodile, not fully grown, was shot by a local fisherman in a dugout canoe.  Apparently it is legal to shoot them here as the population has recently exploded and they are becoming extremely dangerous to villagers.  While most of my learners have seen a live crocodile in the river at some point, being able to see one up close and touch it was very exciting for them…and for me!

Did Somebody Turn the Heat On???


In a matter of days, it has gone from relatively warm to incredibly hot. I go to bed clammy and wake up in a pool of sweat. Walking to and from school has become a new challenge as well as carrying enough water to replace the amount I am sweating. The wind is hot, the classroom is hot and the water coming out of the tap is hot! While it might seem like I am complaining, I am not. I’d take this over Canadian winters any day. And really, what did I expect? This is Africa!

Thoroughly Thankful


Obviously, this Thanksgiving there won’t be turkey or pumpkin pie.  There won’t be family or friends to share it with.  But there will be a lot of thankfulness.

During Life Skills today we discussed the traditions of Canadian Thanksgiving and the learners were very interested.  They had difficulty comprehending the idea of ‘stuffing’ a turkey and were curious about the wishbone routine.

And in true Giraldi household style, I made the learners say one thing they were thankful for.  Here are some of their comments:

“I am thankful for water.

I am thankful for happy birthdays.

I am thankful for maize and porridge.

I am thankful for God who protect me from the beginning until now.

I am thankful for the breakfast that I ate today.

I am thankful to see the sun.

I am thankful for being able to come to school.

I am thankful for chicken.

I am thankful for my father’s work.

I am thankful for sweets.

I am thankful for cabbage.

I am thankful for onions.

I am thankful for waking up today.

I am thankful to have my own opinion.

I am thankful for Miss Tanya who comes from far to teach us very well.”

Every day here I face the question – why me?  Why was I born into a loving, giving family in a developed country full of opportunity?  I often don’t feel deserving of the life that awaits me at home.  Being here makes me thankful for even the smallest things that I didn’t appreciate before… shoes that fit, sidewalks, hot water and drive thru coffee!  I am able to recognize what a great country Canada is – a place where hard work and dedication can lead to success and where dreams can come true quite regularly.

But specifically, today, I am thankful for…

…Mom, Dad & Jan, Alisa, Kayla and Jamie who call me every single week without fail

…my feet –  that have brought me around the world and given me the chance to experience life and culture outside of Canada

…technology – email, internet and external hard drives (with movies and tv shows to pass the time!)

…my healthy teeth and the yearly dentist appointments my mom dragged me to

… chocolate and coffee and the fact that they can be found anywhere in the world

And I am especially thankful that in 70 days I will be home – where I belong, surrounded by my loving family and friends.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!



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