Deserving punishment?

On Saturday we had the Governors Cup where schools from the seven surrounding regions (Arandis, Walvis Bay, Swakop, Omaruru, Usakos, Karabib, Oshimbingwe) and they all came to Uis and stayed overnight. The day was filled with soccer matches in the 90 degree weather and the evening entertainment included boxing. Apparently boxing is not very common especially amongst the Erongo region schools so there was quite the turnout. After over twenty soccer matches throughout the day on Saturday, the boys from Uis won! It was a giant success and I was so proud when they came running to my flat window jumping up and down. I also had two of my Grade 8 learners compete in the boxing match which was both nerve-racking and exhilarating. One won and the other lost but it was a fun match and many people from the location came out to support them.

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After the matches ended it was around 11:00pm and I tried to gather the girls in the hostel to go to bed. One room was being particularly rambunctious and awless. When I told them it was time for bed they laughed with insouciance and I got to the point where I told them instead of behaving they must wait outside of the hostel as they were getting the other girls in the hostel worked up. I sent them out and locked the door, planning on letting them back in after ten minutes time. As soon as I locked the door, I heard a knock, it was my colleague Mr. !Gariseb. His voice was more raspy and harsh than it usually is at school and he told me the girls must come into the hostel. I explained their behavior and told him that they were being particularly resistant to me. He was looking down and gave a grumbly slurry comment and a barely audible, “which room?” came out. I let him in and due to the darkness didn’t notice him carrying something in his hand. We walked together to room three and I explained that the girls were not listening when I tried talking to them. We entered room three and as I turned my back to close the door so as to not disturb the other rooms, I saw out of the corner of my eye, something whip into the air and slap across the room. I heard a loud piercing screech of a girl on my left – she screamed in pain and ran past me. Before I knew it, Mr. !Gariseb had his belt above his head again and it was across the room hitting another girl farther away from me. All of the girls screamed in panic and raced out of the room like a herd of cattle trying to get to safetly. I am sure the look on my face was of utter shock – my colleague turned to me after it was only us standing in the room and as he opened his mouth to speak I could smell the liquor on his breath, said “that should do it.” All I could say was “okay, well I think it is time to go to bed.” He didn’t raise he head once as I walked him to the door and locked it behind him. I came back into the courtyard and saw all the girls on one end of the hostel huddling in one of the dark corners. I asked the girls to come back but they wouldn’t even step in my direction. I went to bed feeling disappointed in myself and frankly shaken at what happened. The next morning I talked about it with my roommate and she kept saying that beating is normal and kids expect it. The reason they misbehave is because they can unless they respect you out of fear. After this last weekend, I am feeling incredibly frustrated as I refuse to beat anyone yet the kids are not respecting me. Trying to find a happy medium is becoming an arduous task.

I also found out the following day that a boy from another school who was sleeping in one of our classrooms got into a fight with one of our Grade 11 learners and stabbed him with a 6 inch knife in the back right above his shoulder. Loretta had to go and take him to the clinic and apparently he had to get stitches. Never a dull moment I tell you..

African bugs, Jumbo size. TIA

I know this isn’t that pertinent.. but look how big this spider is.. and then I found (on my bedroom door) this spider that captured a scorpion. Serious bugs with serious agendas.

Spider the girls found in the hostel:

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A spider catching a scorpion in my doorframe:

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Nostalgic but feeling loved.

Found this little guy to start my week properly..

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I can’t believe today is the last day of classes before exams! The kids have exams starting tomorrow until the end of next week and one would think they would be keen to find out what exactly is on the exam or perhaps the format, but they did not seem interested in either topic. I did bring some sweets with me today so I think perhaps that aided in digressions.

This last weekend was an out weekend so most of my kids went to Walvis Bay which is about 130km from Uis. I was invited to go with Louis and his family to their house in Henties Baai which is en route to Walvis Bay. I was surprised how many hugs and “Miss, I love you and will miss you” I received. A few of my favorite learns made me cards which was really adorable.

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I also was able to buy some sweets for the kids in Henties for good behavior this week and they have been more motivated than I have ever seen them before. I think I am on to something…

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The typical Namibian holiday weekend is spent either fishing, watching rugby or cricket or going out and dancing until all hours of the evening. I did all of the above this last weekend. The house was jam packed full of family including, Yohan and Tina, Louis, and his sister Marie-Ann with her husband and two children. The two children are ages four and six which made morning early and very reminiscent of living in the hostel. The six year old spoke a little English so he did talk to me a bit but the four year old would simply come up and speak to me in Afrikaans just like everyone else. When I asked him, “Excuse me?” with a smile he would just say it again and say it differently or just keep talking in Afrikaans. It made our conversations pretty short and sweet but he always left giggling. I think my Afrikaans is poor at best. We arrived back on Sunday just in time for study. It was the perfect getaway however there was much talk of family gatherings coming up for Easter and I left feeling quite nostalgic. Immediately when I got back to the school, I called my Mom & Dad, sisters and the chef. Nothing replaces family. Speaking of which, I am heading to Windhoek in the next two weeks for mid-service with the rest of the WorldTeach volunteers and then I am off to Johannessberg to meet my sisters, Peashy and Lexie. Then the chef arrives. I can’t wait but I know how much I am going to miss all of my favorite kids here. Although a break from, “raise your hand..”, “please raise your hand”, “RAISE YOUR HAND!”, “I see you I don’t want to hear you!” may be nice…

One last update to report is that I got home to icy weather in Uis, which is quite peculiar as it is the desert but we have gotten a lot of rain this past month which is unheard of. I mentioned to Armas that taking a shower is like semi-torture and we somehow managed to get our water heater fixed yesterday. I took a long (10 minute) hot! bath. It was divine. No more of me trying to fit into a basin and pouring cold water over my head with a cooking pot. Feels like luxury!

Giving forward.

Loretta introduced me to this woman who lives close by in the location. She has no job and no husband and lives with her six children. The last time I visited her she graciously invited us into her home – she said that if I ever needed a place to stay I could come and live with her. Can you imagine someone being so selfless? Today I brought her some potatoes, bread, porridge and some sweets for her kids. Loretta and I are going to try to raise some money and build her another room on her house as some of the kids are going to be in high school and shouldn’t be sharing one room. I will keep everyone updated as to the progress and when we are planning on starting the construction !

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Wonderful

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It is almost the end of March and I think I am the only one in the school that is concerned about the end of term tests and material to be covered. This morning I brought this up with a colleague and she laughed with insouciance and assured me it will all just “work out”. Even the Grade 8 learners have a lumpen perspective on the end of term which is quite frightening but it is very much the Namibian way to let things just take their course. Activities and tasks do not get planned in advance – this was truly highlighted this weekend at our regional track meet.

On Friday, Loretta and I left with the track team to Swakopmund with about 20 learners who were competing. The day started with the bus arriving over two hours late and the driver having the temerity to rush us upon his arrival for simply grabbing our belongings. We then spent the entire morning visiting 5 other school en route to Swakopmund. At noontime, I asked Loretta if the school had packed our kids lunch and she said they had not. We stopped and Loretta and I both paid for the kids so they could have something at least to hold them over until we got to Swakopmund. Once in Swakopmund there was no lunch for the kids either so we visited the grocery store and got them some food. (Thank you to those who have contributed to my fundraising site – it is going towards these sort of situations!! Here is the link again: “This is Africa” http://gfwd.at/1cpdcaT.) I realized once in Swakopmund that there was more disorganization – the boys had no where to sleep that evening either. When I prompted one of the organizers, she responded as if it were a trifling issue…. eventually everything worked out but the general nonchalance is quite disturbing if you come from a different background. Aside from the consistent hiccups, the sun was shining, the kids were happy and I think I was the only one who was getting caught in the minutia of the weekend. Everyone else was just thrilled to be traveling and near the ocean. We arrived back on Saturday early evening and the bus was greeted with cheers and clapping. Not a bad way to be greeted I would say. I think I may be finally getting my Namibian footing.