Sunday, November 22, 2009

Scholarship Fund

Please click the link to learn more about the One Love Scholarship which I am co-founding.

Tangi unene!


As the year comes to a close, we have had an abundance of celebrations taking place. Here are some pictures for you to share in the fun:

First up, grade 5's end of the year party!


Happy looking like the drunk, desperate bridesmaid

Ms. Justy, the grade 5 class teacher

Anne-Marie with the greatest hairstyle!

Mr. Katondoka and Mr. Josef

The two Petruses: Petrus Shipindo and Petrus Enkali, looking very sharp


Tulela and Tuyakula
Tulina and Anne-Marie

Next up: Readathon.

Happy again - yes, the same girl who wore an evening gown to her class party

Next: Thanksgiving at another volunteer's:
Sorry it's sideways. Anyway, we all wore traditional dresses...Adam's the most memorable

And finally...Christmas!

Petrus with baby Jesus

And... Tate Christmas
(tate means father)

Friday, November 6, 2009


Dear Mary Woodford:

How are you? Me I'm doing good. My name is Onno. I'm 13 years old and I'm a learner of Miss Lindsey.

Here in Namibia we are doing alright and we are happy to have Miss Lindsey at school. I almost stay with her for a day because I love her very much.

How is America? Here in Namibia is becoming cold. There was a flood in Namibia this year. When is snow falling down? How is it like?

Miss Lindsey was showing may how you do to do snowballs with little ice. She throw it to me and we start to scratch ice in the fridge and throwing it to each other. That was a lot of fun.

What's your favourite sport? Mine is football. Do you love Obama? In which town do you live in USA? Do you have pets?

I love to write to you and even it's the first time. :)

We thank you for the crayons and everything and Miss Lindsey. But I will steal Miss Lindsey. I kidding :)

Miss Lindsey is very good and give us gums and sweets. I love hot potato game.


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Thank You Letters!

Some excellent friends at Adkison, Need & Allen sent great gifts for the kids, including books, sweets, and oh-my-god FOLDERS! The learners are absolutely thrilled to have folders, and I am also thrilled they have somewhere to put their fabulous English and Agriculture homework. :) Thank you so much for the donations Judi, Jack, Trinh, Hans, Dave, and Phil! I hope everyone finds these thank you letters as hysterical, sweet, and entertaining as I have.

Grade 5
- “I appreciate you as a very good friend even I never see you face to face. I was so unhappy today and hungry when I heard about the sweets you send to us I became happy. When I ate them I became satisfy by those sweet. As I a grade 5 learner I would like to say God bless you and give you a lot to replace the one you give to us. Did the sweet you send from the Wonka’s factory? I wonder. A poor girl but rich in mind. I thank you a lot.” - Tuyakula Kongolo

-“I am really proud of you keep on sending us some present, and us we will look for you something good next time. Enjoy your day but not too much. Before you read this smile a big smile for me. And send me you photo. Tell Miss Lindsey that they are going to Elise Shigwedha. I what to be you friend from today on. Enjoy the day as I said. Many kisses. From your new friend.” - Elise Shigwedha

-“The folders are so beautiful and the sweets are so sweetie/tasty. Are you the one who design them or you bought them? Because they look comfortable and beautiful. Do you sometimes visit Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory? If yes, tell me about it please. Ok, good bye, keep doing your works.” - Wilhelmina Imene

-“I am so very happy for giving me that. Last term I was worid were can I put my paper and now you bring me folds so that I can put my paper. Send my greating to your parent and friend.” - Petrus Shipindo, “KAKA” (they’re super into soccer)

-“I just want to say everything that you did to me its good. I am happy now my friends. Do not give up keep it up. I know you are the friend of Miss Lindsey. Miss Lindsey she is my teacher for English. Good bye my dears. God mas bless you guys.” - Eino Muulyao

-“I am very happy to you. Because you bring as are file I am happy that present for as are very nais and he put the pepar for English oll of the things for subject I am happy for that thing very very happy. You peop I reat you the present for because you are very very happy for you present because me I am happy.” - Samuel Johannes

-“May god bless you for brote for us this this. I hope you loves childs because you did sand for us folder, sweet but the black people will not sand for us like this thing. I just want to say thanks more than banana or more than plastic sweet and folder. The black say thank because you give me something. The white say take that I have. My God will bless you thousands time. Now I just want to give you a big hug in the paper.” - Robert Nendongo

-“I am just want to thanks you. I hope this letter you will laf a lot because this letter is too good. I cogalatulate you very much. Or I never seen you and you send me the folder. Give kind regards to your friend or to every one you love. The Namibian, Tobias David Beckham.” - Tobias Shikongo

-“I will give a lot of thank because I was very poor no were to put my papers. You make us rich. I was so hungry you give me some sweet and they was so tasty. Now I am fat because you give me sweet last time I was very thin. I will give a lot of thanks to you because of you good behavior to remember us. I thanks Miss Lindsey because she is my favourite and best teacher, and I want to be like her in future. From who don’t forget you.” - Ngeendina Mvula

-“First of all I want to great you all in the name of Jesus. Me here we are cool and fresh. I wrote to you this letter because of the love between us. Thank you for giving such things in my life. Maybe I think you don’t know me and I don’t know you, you are the luckiest people in my life. If I look at your faces in the air and dream you, all tears come running because of the love between us. I love you a lot when I saw the folders I was very happy to see them. Miss Lindsey said they came from her friends in America.” - Fiina Ashantix Newaya

Grade 6
- “We feel happy and blessed for you what you have done is good. Can you please come to Namibia in one of the day and visit us because we mis you a lot even if we don’t know you. When I open my eyes to look in my folder I start feel happy because it looks nice and it have to pocket where you put your papers and it have my green color and that good to me continue with your work.” - Eva Ananias

-“I would like to give vote of thanks to you. Because you give us sweet to eat and enjoy them. And you give us some folder to put your english’s paper. Because our paper are always get lost. Even if I do my homework it will lost. And the teacher will say you did not do it. Have a nice day, greet your president.” - Tobias Ananias

-“Dear our darlings, I want to thank for all your gifts, Miss Lindsey gave us sweets and special, beauty, and important folders that we never had before. We were glad to see them and we will no more lost our paper, we will place them in our folder. Miss Lindsey is our favourite teacher who try to help us with everything, if she was not there we could not have got those nice folders and even we could not be tasting sweets each day.” - Taamba Nuuyuni

-“First of all I just want to great you with a happy face and a happy body and the happy hart. I am going to write some song for you guys so that you will be happy with your familis and best frend too.
I love you. You love me. We are happy familis with a happy hart with a kiss of why do you love me.
This song will be a very nice song to you guys. Share the song with your best frends too. Keep up your hard working.” - Elina Nandjala

-“One day in my life I like to fly with you to come to America and visit you your family and your friends to. When you return my letter mabye one day you will come to visit Miss Lindsey and learn us some new games and read for us a story and all about Obama your president. Great your parent mom and dad, sister, brother, friend and everyone you love. I love you.” - Penehafo Lamek

-“I am happy to receive a good thing like this and I am proud of you. I cant even say thank you because my mouth is full of joy. May the star of the earth shine on you. May the God send his angel to be with wherever you go to protect you and your friend. I will never forget the thing you have done for us.” - Lupandu Nepalo

-“I hope I could come to you in America to visit you. May God bless you all to be a good and famous person in the world. I saw the other day matching Obama! Obama! Obama and that’s a great thing. I wish you all the best. People like you are good and like fun and jokes.”
- Rosina Shivute

-“Dear big hears, my heart was broken, but now it’s together, because you worked together through this. I’m on cloud nine, on top of the world, etc…I’m happy, very much, very big, very very very, I’m happy. I have a lot of word in my mouth and billion in my hand and ton on my brain. My last but not least words are: Dwell by those who demand, no pain no gain, friendship is like a diamond, difficult to crash but easy to make it shine, I’m thinking about how you look, I’m proud to have a friend like you. I really thank you very much, your reward always come from your mighty god, bye to everybody out there. My first wish was, is and will be to study and live in America, it’s like paradise and to be a white man, just like late Michael Jackson and be an American by marrying an American beauty lady. I salute you.” (they are really into “I salute you” because some woman said it on the televised Michael Jackson memorial) – Augustus Angula

Grade 7
- “I would like to thank you for the marvellous sweets and forders you have send us. Thank you keep up the good work you have done. Don’t stop doing the great job. Next time you will get a nice present from us. Just keep still you will receive it soon. Can you please give us your address so we can keep on writing to you. I wish to see you one of the day. Great all your friends.” - Hilya Ntinda

-“I thank you for the folders and the sweets are so sweety with nice jokes. If I were to kiss and hug you all in the air I will kiss you more than 1000 times.” - Asser Namene

-“I was happy when I saw the green folders, or files, because they are beautiful and good. I was also happy when I ate the most good sweat in the whole world. When we are with Miss Lindsey, we have many fun, and we play games a lot. Last but not least I just want to say great your friends, family members, town people and mr mr mr mr mr mr mr mr BARRACK OBAMA” - Namulandu Immanuel Bruno

-“Dear Darlings, boys en girls. I want to thanks you all for what you have done for us. We really appricicite thanks you guys. I feel on top of the world to receive such presents. Are you also doing your grade 7 too? If yes WOW! Now we are just like two peas in a pod!” - Hileni Nembwaya

-“I don’t know how to thank you. You guys are so helpful and nice. Please send me one photo of you all so that one day else I will send you some letters and my photo. Please tell me more about your life in USA. I love you all although I never saw your faces. Apples and bananas are cool but you are fresh!” - Tuliameni Nyanya

-“I think you will be on top of the world when reading this letter and you may think I am sharp as a needle. I would thank you for being kind and sweet to us. May the sunshine shine on you cuties. Thank you for sending us files that we like the most.” - Fenni Kagola

-“You know what your sweets almost make me vomit. That’s 100% joking! Don’t feel sad. What natural disaster destroy more in you country in is flood and drought that can kill animals too much of them. Joke are my type: you wanna be a simpa chips, we wanna be simba chips.” - Festus Enkali

-“Dear Judi, I would like to thank you for send us this file and at the end I would like to say God be with you and bless you more than 1000 000 000 year I wish you all the best in you work. Greet Trinh. From: Miss Lindsey Learner.” - Liina Kristoff (apparently she only wanted to thank the females)

-“I don’t even know if I may greet your guys because right now I’m eat the delicious and sweety sweet. I was on top of the world when I get the folders, I don’t even know how much to thank you guys. From today on you are the luckiest people to communicate with famous Professor Elago. Everyone in my school call me Professor Elago. Let me tell you something, “Elago” mean “lucky.” - Hileni Elago (Professor Elago)
Grade 5 boys with their soccer-decorated folders:
Tobias, Petrus, Robert, Samuel, Eino

Grade 5 girls: Anne-Marie, Tulina, Wilhelmina, Elise

Digging in to the candy

"Doctors" Jagongela and Onno

"Welcome to the magic paradise book"

Open Market

Roughly once a month, the field behind our school turns into an open market (this is a pretty intimidating experience…I learned after one or two tries to bring a Namibian colleague as my translator/bodyguard). Basically, the entire country gets paid once a month, which makes month-end pretty unruly. Grocery stores, towns, transport, and – especially – shebeens (the countless illegal bars littering the country) are manic. This open market takes place after people get paid. Community members from surrounding villages come to set up tables, drape a piece of cloth over some poles to block the sun, and, of course, gossip (especially about the white girl with the camera, I’m sure).

They sell baskets, spices, fabric, foods, and – my favorite – raw meat. At least one cow is slaughtered, and if you get there early enough, you can watch men hold up a leg and saw away at the meat. Once it’s been cut up, the slabs are either chucked onto a table or hung over a line for your viewing pleasure. And did I mention the head? Oh yes – that’s on display for sale too.

Pooch under the truck - anything to escape this blazing sun

He said I could take a picture only if he could take me!

The most excited and enthusiastic woman I've ever met! She is a sweet old lady.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


Mangetti is a village in the Kavango region that exists solely for the Mangetti cattle ranch: once the largest in the world, and still extremely enormous. James teaches at Mangetti Combined School, which is for the children of the cattle ranch employees. Many learners must live essentially as orphans in huts near the school, while their parents live up to 90km away on the post to which they are assigned. The people are very very poor, and the village is remote and in the bush, and thus quite underserved and much more traditional than mine. They are of a different tribe and speak a different language (Rukwangali) than mine (Oshiwambo).

Of the 353 learners at Mangetti Combined school, 80 are orphans and 86 are listed as “vulnerable,” which is a government title to show they are especially poor or at risk. In the cold winter mornings (below 50 degrees Fahrenheit!), many many many had nothing but their uniform: thin, short sleeve button-up shirt and skirt/slacks to wear. No sleeves, socks, hats, gloves…(yes, clothing drive!)

James and his learners converted an unused classroom into a library for the school, and held an opening ceremony for the community. The choir sang, the cultural teams performed, the women sold fatcakes and traditional brew, and, of COURSE, a soccer game was held. Because how else would you celebrate a library opening? :)

I love how babies are carried in Namibia!

James reading to some beautifully dusty kids who can't understand
a bit of English, but eagerly (and adorably) repeated every word.

Before I go on, I must insert a quick vocabulary review:

Afrikaaners: the German colonizers of Namibia and South Africa. Many were born here and are technically “Namibian,” but the cultures are completely divided. They even have German accents! Many Namibians and Afrikaaners do not get along, of course, because Namibia just gained independence from them 19 years ago. Thus many Namibians and Afrikaaners actually battled against one another in the war, Afrikaaners instituted apartheid, and there is still massive racism and discrimination.

Location: the collection of huts and embos which create a neighborhood.

Embo: a family’s homestead, which consists of a number of huts usually surrounded by a fence of grass or mahangu stalks. There is a kitchen hut, a tara-tara (which is essentially the living room), sometimes a guest hut, then other huts serving as bedrooms.

Mahangu: grows on an ear on a stalk, like corn, but consists of tons of teeny seeds. In America, mahangu is used as birdfeed. In Namibia, the seeds are ground into flour.

On with the story:

James spent the first term in the guest house of the cattle ranch, but, after being told by the Afrikaaners who run it that he could not have black people over (!), he chose to move into a hut in the “location” (that is the extremely short version of a sad story). He lives in his friend Thomas’ embo, which has 5 huts and one more he is helping build.

Hut life is TOUGH! There is no electricity, of course. There is a water tap to walk to, shared by the others in the community, but it only has water for a few hours each day. So you need to catch it when it’s running and fill up. And life in a hut is LOUD! Roosters do NOT wait for dawn when they cock-a-doodle-doo! There was one in particular who I glared at every day as I walked by. I could recognize his voice that he was the sucker always having parties in the middle of the night.

(view from inside the hut. Yes, the doorway is about 3.5 feet tall.)

The shower! You have to squat and use a bucket. If you stand up straight you can wave to the people walking by on the other side of the fencing!

Mangetti's electricity

James told his principal, Mr. Kalihonda, that I’d like to try a few traditional duties or activities while I spent time there, so we went to their embo and pounded mahangu. It is hard work!!! You pour the seeds into a deep, hollowed out tree trunk. Then take a tall (heavy) wooden post and slam it into seeds to mash them. Woo! It’s tough! Once you have pounded them to a powder, you sift it and then you have flour. James tried it too, which gave the ladies endless delight, they exclaimed “mpandu mitili!” (Thank you teacher!) It is not a man’s work.

Meme Kalihonda on the right

The next day Mr. Kalihonda invited us over for lunch, and we got to taste the fruits of our labor. We had oshifima – a porridge made of the mahangu flour, also a second porridge made of maize flour, mutete (a spinach-style vegetable), a chickpea dish, and they also ate chicken. It was interesting because I expected to eat with the whole family, but his wife and children sat outside while we ate in the kitchen hut. I asked after if I could help clean up (I have no idea what is appropriate behavior as a woman, but also guest, and did not want to offend). Mr. Kalihonda advised me to present an empty dish to his wife and say “mpandu.” I threw in “ezuva lye wa,” which she had taught me earlier during the mahangu pounding session. It means “have a nice day.”