In the last few months we have seen a few changes to our team here in Rundu.
Early December we said goodbye to an amazing lady, Dr. Mary Bennett from England. Mary served here for a two year term as a teacher in the College of Education here in Rundu, the training center for teachers in this region. Education has become, in my opinion the number one area that needs desperate help in this country. The day after independence only 18 years ago, the President declared Namibia an English speaking country. Up to that point the schools mainly taught in the Africaans language but suddenly things changed. In the village of Kaisosi kids in grades 1-3 get one hour of English a day and then in grade 4 the classes are all taught in English. English is not spoken at home or in the communities and so this transition is tough on the students and the number of kids that pass subsequent grades decreases significantly. One of the biggest problem is that the teachers also struggle with English, and so the quality of the teaching decreases significantly. Hearing stories from Mary and some of the other teachers at the college has helped me see that English proficiency (and hence education in general) in this country has a long way to go when compared to the majority of its African neighbours. Mary was also very committed to serving the church, setting up training for Sunday school teachers, writing Bible studies and spending time with the ladies in the church doing sewing projects. A very encouraging, hard working, and inspiring woman of God. Rundu will be forever changed.
We have just said goodbye to Kimmie this past week as she headed back to America after 3 years in Rundu. Kimmie is a nurse that was working as a NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) nurse back at home and so was quickly slotted into the paediatric ward here at Rundu State Hospital, as there is no specialized ward here. Kimmie served faithfully on the ward for 2 years doing a 4 on 4 off rotation, and had many horrific stories of her time in the hospital. Her time there was no doubt very necessary as she tried to bring insight, and a strong work ethic, not to mention a passion and deep love for sick kids. After 2 years Kimmie was promoted to In-service Training Coordinator which was a nice change from the ward (although she continued to do one shift a week on the ward). But the new position came with its own set of struggles. As we have mentioned in past blog entries, the work ethic here is disparagingly low and she found that the nurses weren’t very interested in continuing education, attendance was low and not all that appreciated. By the end of 3 years, Kimmie was excited to go back home for the first time and see all her friends and family and we applaud her for her perseverance! She is missed already.
After unloading all of Kimmie’s luggage off at airport and saying our goodbyes, we turned around and packed the car full again with 2 girls, Nicole and Tricia and all their belongings and headed back on the road up to Rundu. Nicole and Tricia are close friends from Louisville, Kentucky (pronounced Louvull for all us non Americans!). To quote Daryl, “they are two angels sent to us from God”. They are both bright rays of sunshine and full of joy and laughter. What a huge blessing!
Tricia is also a NICU nurse in the States, but instead of entering the hospital scene will spend the next two months loving on the kids at our OVC project and helping me get some of the overwhelming administrative tasks organized, of which I am so thankful! She has already been keen to jump into wound care at the project and has the sweetest attitude.
Nicole has a Masters in Dispute Resolution and works with kids who have emotional disability. Can you imagine how excited we are to have her here!!! Nicole has already jumped right into our meetings with the social worker trying to bring much needed aid to our kids in abusive situations. We just found out that the social worker will be away for the next 6 weeks, so I feel that “for such a time as this” she has been sent to do a great work. Nicole has committed to a 6 month term here in Namibia but as we are leaving Rundu in 2 months (!), we are unsure as to whether she will stay here (we are praying for someone else to come and join her) or head back down to Windhoek to finish her term there.
The kids at project are over the moon excited to meet and play with these energetic and fun loving girls, they all want to be their new best friends. They are a gigantic gift.