Room to Learn: Building Project Update from Namibia Volunteer

Current Grade 4 Classroom

For the past few months, Amy, Namibia Year Volunteer, has been working hard on a personal project to improve her school: working with her community to build a much needed classroom for her Year 4 students. Read through the highlights of her amazing experience below. 

Now that I have gotten official Ministry of Education approval, I have some big/exciting/overwhelming news!

I am building a classroom. 

My friend Karen made the difficult decision to leave Namibia earlier this year, and she graciously left behind a very generous amount of extra fundraised money for me to use at my school. Thanks to some additional funding from family and friends I have enough to build a classroom.

When I arrived at my school, I was shocked at the conditions of the buildings, even more shocked when I was led to the hut that is the grade 4 classroom.  When I say hut I mean hut.  It is not the rock, mud/cement huts that people live in, it is literally some sticks with gaping holes in the “walls” and roof.

After a few months here you become hardened.  Life is hard for these kids, they come to school hungry, when it gets cold they are freezing, they deal with death often, 20% of them have lost one or both parents, and life is just hard.  It’s actually terrifying how “okay” I have become to seeing this state of poverty.

It’s their reality, it always has been and more than likely always will be. It’s what they know. They are resilient and show more courage than I can possibly fathom.

When I first arrived I was thinking “I have to build a classroom”.  A few months in I was thinking “whatever the kids are fine”.  Term 2 came along and the grade 4 teacher left on maternity leave. Due to some ministry paper work delay concerning pay they were without a teacher for a few weeks. During this time the upper primary teachers and myself went and taught them during our free periods.

That was the first time I had ever spent time in the hut.  It was miserable!  Namibia is cold right now and that hut was about 100 times colder than being outside.  I was bundled up, gloves, hats, scarf, fleece jacket, and I was freezing. Now imagine scrawny little children with short sleeves and no shoes.  I was unmotivated to teach anything.  It would have actually been more effective to just teach outside.

It’s not going to drastically improve the quality of their education, it’s not the library my blind optimistic self dreamed of creating pre-departure, it’s going to cause me huge headaches, someone will probably rip me off at some point, something will most definitely go wrong, BUT at least I know it will be used.

I am using a local contractor, and we are trying to get community member involvement to do the manual labor.  Hopefully, the community will respond and this will be something they can take pride in completing.

These kids may never leave the village but they deserve to feel like they are worth an actual school building and not a makeshift hut. Because they are worth it.

Building Update - August 25, 2011
Last week the community tore down the old hut, and Tuesday I bought and delivered the supplies for the new building!

When I say delivered this isn’t as simple as going to Home Depot and placing an order. No, I had to coordinate Ministry of Education pick up with Build It purchasing and then get community members to unload the truck… easier said than done.

Classroom Construction in Progress!!! - September 11, 2011
It hasn’t been easy.  It has been the most frustrating thing I have ever done.  After my fair share of nagging, phone calls, and tears construction has finally started! Hallelujah!!!

September 12

September 13

September 14
September 15

We almost have a completed classroom!

1 comment:

  1. Amazing! Have you ever thought of partnering with an elementary school here? Creating a sort of penpal relationship so the kids have something fun to do and the kids here would get a greater appreciation of what they have.

    God Bless you,