Friday, 12 August 2011

Jogging in Windhoek

Walking down the road near our house.

We've been jogging nearly every day in Windhoek - at 6am, the roads are clear, the sky is gently pink and purple and the sun is slowly radiating over the horizon. There are lots of joggers around - some jogging for exercise, others on their way to work. Either way, people seem a little surprised to see us jog together around our local area. Sometimes our landlord, Earnest, joins us and shows us different jogging routes. He's amazingly fit and very quick - it's a real test of stamina keeping up with him. We blame our wheezing on the altitude, of course.

Walking down into Windhoek city

The last two weeks have been frantically busy. Last week I started working in earnest at the shelter, having been on training the week before. The first few days passed reading through Friendly Haven's policies and programmes, and meeting various people connected to the shelter: the Reverend who helped to found it, the local Women and Child Protection Unit, and of course, the staff at the shelter. I was then invited by the shelter's assigned social worker, Loreen, to support her in her work at a local school, running a programme on domestic violence, sexual and physical abuse. I was to help her integrate HIV/AIDS activities into the programme and support the implementation - VSO's ethos is not service delivery, but on 'capacity building' whereby we share skills instead of taking a local's job. Working with Loreen was a real pleasure. I learnt a lot from her, different activities that I hadn't tried before, different ways of explaining the subjects, and how she went about organising the groups. The young people really responded well to her, stating that they felt comfortable in talking about all their experiences and issues with her. She also said that the different activities and ideas that I brought were new for her. So my first experience of 'skill share' was just that - a positive exchange of skills.

Walking up towards Katatura in the north of Windhoek

What is upsetting is the level of child abuse that was apparent. After talking for a while, some of the children came to me and said quietly "Auntie, please can I show?" and then lifted up their jumpers to reveal coffee skin mottled by swathes of purple bruises, punctuated with angry welts that bore the outline of belt buckles. The pictures they draw of their homelife aren't much better. I felt sick and angry - I don't understand how people can do this to such tiny bodies. Loreen and I now have four child protection cases to work with - the Women and Child Protection Unit is the agency we go to in this situation. This week we will be working with the children to explain the reporting process, and then taking them to the Unit, who will then call in the parents.

The Women and Child Protection Unit, sponsored by Coca Cola!

A lot of the children are also hungry as they don't get much food at home. Many of the schools have soup kitchens visit them at the end of the day so the children get something to eat, as there are't school meals. School is from 7am to 1pm here, to avoid the heat of the day.

View from one of the schools in Windhoek

Alex himself fell prey to the heat last week - having not drunk enough water throughout the day, he fainted after one glass of wine in a restaurant that night. It was another VSO volunteer's leaving do', which we helped make very memorable as Alex was carted off to hospital to have stitches in a small cut on his temple. Fortunately, a member of the VSO staff was there and drove us to the hospital and sorted out all the paperwork. I was very impressed with the level of care that Alex received - the doctors were great, and after stitching Alex up, referred him to the neurologist to make sure that nothing else was going on. The neurologist was really excellent with a gentle voice and reassuring manner. He told us how he'd grown up running around barefoot in the bush in the north of Namibia before becoming a doctor, and was now able to support his whole family. He carried out an EEG and an MRI just in case, and we breathed a sigh of relief when everything came back as clear. Another VSO volunteer, Eveline, had stayed with us throughout the whole day, and I was very grateful for the support. Alex is drinking a lot more water now!

Anyway, I'd better get back to work - I'm meeting with a lot of other volunteers this week at their placements to get a better idea of the organisations working in Namibia and how they all fit together. First up, the Namibian Football Association!

1 comment:

  1. Hi there, I am trying to find out where I can find an EEG machine to measure brainwaves. Where and which hospital has this?

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