Arriving at Otjikondo
After a meeting at the british high commissioner and a rushed drive back to the cardboard box me and fran got on a sunshine bus tour to get to otjikondo. Of course there was trouble doing that because nothing happens in Windhoek without a bit of drama. The driver couldn’t understand what we were saying and said we weren’t booked on. We don’t really know what happened but we were sent on another bus and left, we passed a few baboons on the journey but nothing that interesting. Fran chose to watch the Truman show on my laptop, I’d never seen it before but its such a good movie! We arrived in outjo, assuming we stayed on the bus but everyone else got off and Gilly Stommel (our host at otjikondo) was standing outside shouting ‘Fran, Mary!’. Not a great first impression of us, but she is so lovely! The first thing she showed us when we got in the car was a photo of Chelcie and Otille (the previous GAPS) and said how much she missed them already. Its already clear we have a lot to live up to!
We stopped at a few places in Outjo, which is our nearest town, to collect food, petrol etc as theres not much you can buy in Otjikondo! On the long drive from there to the school we passed loads of warthogs but the novelty of them wore off quickly. As we drove into Otjikondo we both felt pretty emotional! After months of planning we were actually at our project and its 1000000 times better than we could of imagined! It’s so hard to describe without actually being there; the trees and the buildings are so pretty, there are donkeys and carts scattered around, children running around and people waving at us. Gilly gave us a quick tour of her house which is beautiful, and she even has a pool which we can use! We got the key to the GAP flat, our home for the next year. There are 4 bedrooms with 2 more guest rooms, a lounge are and a kitchen, this is AMAZING. I chose the Tortoise room which is bigger than my bedroom at home and Fran’s in the gecko room next door, its strange being in separate rooms after we shared a room on training, sat next to each other on the long plane and car journeys and shared a room in Windhoek. Whilst we cooked our first dinner we could here squealing noises outside, I was convinced it was the donkeys but Fran said it was kids. About a minute later we had a knock at our door, 2 girls had come to welcome us. They were so cute, one was called Olivia but we forget the other girls name, oops. I unpacked and we both went to bed at about 8pm, rock and roll. Sleeping in a room here is scary, the birds are noisy and you have to go outside to get into the lounge area. It’s now 7 am and is so sunny already, at 9 Gilly’s taking us on a tour of the land. We don’t start teaching until Wednesday so we have a few days to settle in. so far I’m loving it here at Otjikondo, the people are more than friendly and willing to help with anything. It does feel like a holiday at the moment but by the looks of our diaries it will be hard work starting on wednesday.
The children finally arrived today! Life at otjikondo had felt very quiet until now but as the cars pulled in it finally felt like a school. The children arrived slowly and we could hear many whispers of ‘it’s the new GAPs!’, we definitely stand out as the newbies. After sorting out last minute lesson/school stuff we went to help out Sister Albertina, one of the hostel staff. She put us in charge of asking the boys how many clothes they had bought with them. It was strange to think that most only had a few t shirts, shorts and maybe 1 jacket to last them until the Christmas holidays. It definitely made us feel more grateful for the clothes we’ve bought with us. We were learning which boys were the nice and naughty ones when one boy screamed ‘snake!!!’. We thought he was joking at first but a farmer quickly came running with a rake, there was actually a massive snake behind a tree right next to where we and the boys were sitting. The kids and hostel staff all started throwing rocks at the snake which freaked me out. I stood on a table with a grade 2 boy trying to act confident about it but I think he was more scared than me. After about half an hour they managed to kill it and Tjirivandi thought it would be funny to try and throw it at us. Me and Fran ran away screaming back to the GAP flat. When we came back the girls were keen to make friends with us, they invited us to play a Namibian game of duck duck goose which involves throwing a slipper at the person being chased; if you hit them they’re out. It sounds brutal but it was way more fun than the English version. All the girls are very sweet, wanting to hold our hands, show us around and asking endless questions to why I’m so dark. I started a rumour that my dad was Usain bolt but I felt bad after they actually believed it and were excited for me to teach them athletics because I must be ‘super fast!’. I’ve almost got used to the funny looks I get when I say I’m from England.. they usually ask what tribe I’m from in Namibia and try to speak Afrikaans and Namibian tribe languages to me. Then when I insist I’m English they ask if I’m rich, these kind of questions are a bit odd at first but after the 50th kid asking why I’m black I kind of get used to it. Even though most of the girls names are very hard to pronounce and the boys like to make things up, me and Fran already know we’re going to make some amazing friends here.
First day of school! The assembly was crazy, they all sing and dance and even sang us a welcome song. The grade 1 and 2s are the cutest children in the world! We started our day by asking to observe a grade 1 lesson. We assumed we’d just be sitting at the back watching but after the kids all introduced themselves (‘my names Dankie, im 7 years old, I’m from Outjo, I like ice cream and I’m in grade 1’ about 30 times) we were asked to entertain them. They sang us every song they knew which was the most tiring thing EVER. They all climbed on top of us, pulling our hair and wanting hugs. They are all adorable but want constant attention. We then had them for our first proper lesson, art. They ran screaming into the classroom where we’d set out paper and pencils on the floor to just draw animals, food, shapes etc. It went surprisingly well actually with the boys happy to get on quietly but the girls cry ‘miss mary miss mary, my pencil needs sharpening!’ every 2 minutes. I also made the massive mistake of agreeing to draw an elephant for someone struggling, news caught on pretty quickly that I could draw special elephants with smiley faces and I ended up doing about 20. They ran back to their classroom at the end of the lesson and were happy to sit there without a teacher. The health and safety laws are a lot more relaxed here! I would never dream of leaving a class of 6 and 7 year olds alone in England but here it seems so normal, everyone is trusted. Our next lesson was grade 4s PT. I’ve already decided that I will dread this classes every week. The boys are full of energy and the girls seem very bitchy and rude, we asked to them to do some simple throwing and catching exercises and relay races and they got bored in 5minutes. We then let them throw bean bags around and they got loud and one girl got hit in the face, none of the other girls seemed to care or do anything about it. I’m sure it will get easier but I think they know they can walk all over us. Our last lesson was wings PT who were lovely! There are only 8/9 of them and they seem to have the best personalities! Our favourite at the moment is Sebastian J the boys stayed with me to do relays and play football whilst the girls did skipping with Fran. For our first day the morning went pretty well.
The afternoon sessions are for more relaxed activities, today I had craft with the boys then dance with the girls. Craft was fun but not very successful, we were making hama bead coasters but the boys didn’t really understand that the beads are meant to touch otherwise they don’t stick together so I got frustrated with them and the fact that the iron doesn’t really work so it all just ended up either melted or not stuck together. Oh well the boys didn’t seem to mind, they just like chatting and messing around for an hour. One boy started writing notes to me on the board whilst I wasn’t looking which was super cute, he first said ‘Marry is very nice, she is super smiley and nice to everyone’ then wrote ‘welcome Marry to Otjokondo’ awwww! Yeah they can’t spell my name but they’re adorable!
I had dance next with girls from grade 4-7, I chose to do Beyonce Love On Top as I had no clue about all the African music they wanted to dance to. As I’m used to teaching dance to girls these ages I found it quite easy and fun. They all loved playing splat but didn’t really understand zip zap boing (boo!). They picked up the dance so quickly that they asked if they could show it to Mrs Stommel or perform it to the school! I promised that if they practiced they might be able to perform it before the end of term, which means I now have to remember it L the day went surprisingly well and the girls even wanted to stick around and dance to some more Beyonce songs with me, I can tell we’re going to get along! They all chatted to me and Fran until the bell rang for supper and they sprinted off. We just need to wake up and do it all again tomorrow!
I’m loving Namibia just as much still, the children make it even more special
Lots of love
Otjikondo Primary School