Sunday, August 17, 2014

We can do no great things -- only small things with great love.

Ann Sponberg Peterson writes:

I have always loved this quote from Mother Teresa.  It seems to float into my life just when I need it and this summer it has been front and center in my mind.  I mention this quote in visits … especially when the conversation turns to Empowering Learners and whenever the good news of the arrival of our sea containers gets mentioned.  

Upon hearing of the two 40,000-pound containers, friends sort of blur their eyes and say something on the order of “good heavens … how many books did you say?  And how far is the drive to the North?” 

In addition to quoting Mother Teresa, I quite quickly add that nothing like this is done alone, or in isolation, but rather is accomplished in full partnership with hundreds of people of good will and with generous hearts over-flowing!   

Last January when I was traveling with our Luther students in Namibia, I wrote about visiting the Josef Shifeta Primary School in Ongenga -- the childhood school of the Kafidi Family and where a new library and computer center will soon be established to honor our dear friend, Namupa Ndeshihafela (Kafidi) Nengola, Luther Class of 1998.  I am pleased to report that the container designated, in part, for the Josef Shifeta Primary School has at long last reached its destination.  (Readers may recall that this was a shared container of educational supplies that also happily benefitted our friends at the Oniipa Primary School.) 

We celebrate – with all the learners and teachers – this development for the Josef Shifeta school.  We are glad for this opportunity to partner with you.  May these many books and computers and encyclopedias and maps serve you well!  

Mrs. Teopolina Kayumbu is the exceptionally capable principal at Josef Shifeta Primary School and she is pictured here. 


Mrs. Kayumbu – as I like to say – stands on the shoulders of a giant. 

Mr. Festus Hauuanga was the long-time principal before Mrs. Kayumbu and when I met him in January, he very kindly reported that he was the principal in charge of the school when all of the Kafidi children studied there.   Needless to say, the Kafidi children have all done well and each of them lives a life in service to others.  Thank you, Lamek Kafidi (Director of the Ministry of Education for the Oshikoto Region and oldest child of the Kafidi Family), for taking this photo.   Mr. Hauuanga, it is important to note, now serves as the head of the school council.     


And these are just a few of the many learners that will benefit from the new books and computers once they are all unpacked and sorted.  Use well young friends! 


Nothing of this magnitude could be accomplished without the hundreds of gifts kindly given to Empowering Learners through the year.   Gifts of all sizes are gratefully received and are put to immediate work to advance this project.  On this special occasion your charitable support: helped to fill the sea containers with the additional items specially requested by Namibian school officials; helped to pay the necessary port fees; and helped to pay for the transportation of these massive sea containers as they were trucked thousands of kilometers across Namibia. 

Thank you for enabling us to assist these dynamic and dedicated school leaders like Mrs. Kayumbu and Mr. Hauuange, and most especially the deserving learners we hold so dear.

Empowering Learners. 



Thursday, June 26, 2014

We Will Hold Thumb For It


Ann Sponberg Peterson writes:

In the summer of 2011, Empowering Learners celebrated the successful shipment of a 40-foot sea container to the North of Namibia.  This sea container, filled with books and computers for the benefit of Oshigambo and Nkurenkuru Lutheran High Schools, was the result of months of fundraising.  It was a terrific achievement and many of us thought it might be quite some time before we could replicate those efforts. 

Well, with some amount of good fortune, recent generous gifts, capable leadership in Namibia, and through some very worthy partnerships, this effort has indeed been replicated … in fact it has been replicated two-fold. 

Empowering Learners is pleased to report that in partnership with Books for Africa and the United States Peace Corps, two more sea containers are en route to Walvis Bay, Namibia, for the benefit of school children in the North. 

These two containers, each weighing some 40,000 pounds, are filled, in part, with 23,000 donated library and text books, 30 refurbished DELL desktop computers, 30 external hard drives, multiple sets of Encyclopedia Britannica, multiple classroom map libraries, and more.  What a wonderful inventory!  These educational materials are bound for the Primary School in Oniipa, the library at Oshigambo High School, the Josef Shifeta Primary School in Ongenga, and the Nangombe Combined School in Okahao.  The pallets benefitting the Peace Corps project (15,000 more books!) are headed to a combined school near Rundu.  We’re grateful that a portion of our shipment is hitching a ride in their container.  

We also hear from our friends at Bollore Logistics in Walvis Bay, that the containers are (as of today) due to arrive in port on Wednesday, July 9. Once the containers clear customs they will be trucked to the North and delivered to the schools.  We look forward to hearing from our friends that everything has arrived in good order. 

I have written on previous occasions how wonderful it is to receive messages from our friends and loved ones in Namibia.  These messages usually arrive in the middle of the night and reading them in the morning makes for a lovely start to the day. 

Just recently in one of these exchanges I learned a new phrase.
“We will hold thumb for it.” 

This phase, I have learned, is an Afrikaans expression similar to our “keeping our fingers crossed.”  And so now, in addition to hoping that all is well, eager that the containers enjoy safe and secure passage, and being deeply grateful for so many friendships … I add to this recitation … We will hold thumb for it!        

God’s Work, Our Hands.  With fingers crossed and holding thumbs!  We will keep track in these coming days of the status of our containers, where they are en route, and we will share the hoped-for news of their arrival in the North. 

Thank you.  Thank you all for your generous gifts.
Blessings to you and yours!

Empowering Learners. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

With Thanks From Mr. Zulu!

Ann Sponberg Peterson writes:

I begin this brief update of our work by sharing a lovely note of thanks. 

Hello friends and how do you do out there in the US?  We are fine and so happy that we finally received our parcel from you via Oniipa.  It’s a wonderful package indeed. We shall surely put the items to very good use.  May I take this opportunity on behalf of the Principal and Staff to extend our gratitude to you for this gesture of good will.  We are so humbled by the gift that you gave to us indeed.  We would like to urge you to continue doing good unto the needy.  May the good Lord Almighty God abundantly bless you and the entire team for this gesture.

Such messages really put the wind in our wings!  

Mr. Rennyford Zulu is the head of sciences at ELCIN Nkurenkuru High School.  Gregory, Ethan, and I were privileged to meet Mr. Zulu when we visited the high school in July of 2013 in the company of our dear friend Pastor Henok.  Mr. Zulu along with Mr. Jesaya Chapwa, the head of school administration, showed us all around and we enjoyed getting to see this school in such detail.  Founded by the ELCIN in 1990, it is a terrific academy and they are doing very good work.

The “parcel” that Mr. Zulu is thanking us for was a tightly bound and sealed shipping box and a well-worn roll-aboard suitcase.  (The zipper on that roll-aboard was surely on its last journey but it held just as long as we needed it to!)  Enclosed in the bound box was a digital binocular biological compound microscope.  This microscope has a built in digital camera, which can connect by USB to any laptop or desktop.  We knew that the science hall at Nkurenkuru had an LCD projector, so we were sure that with such a powerful microscope, that now a whole classroom could view the research.  Also included in the roll-aboard was a package of 200 prepared biological slides – everything from plant material to fiber to blood cells – and 20 TI83 graphing calculators.  (And yes, indeed, it was these parcels that caused my delay in customs when we arrived … so worth the wait!)           

We’re pleased that the parcel arrived at Nkurenkuru and we thank our good friend, Reverend Shaanika, secretary of education for the ELCIN, for delivering it for us.  This past January getting to Nkurenkuru in the Kavango Region was just too far east for us to travel in such a short time, so we needed the capable courier service of our friends based in Oniipa.    

We say it in every presentation we make and in every thank you note we send – the gifts from so many are helping so many!  From building kindergartens, to shipping books and computers, to carrying in educational materials, the work of Empowering Learners is focused by mission and need and yet broadly beneficial.  

And we simply could not secure and deliver these gifts without the generous support of our friends and family.  Thank you all. 

In just a matter of days another 40-foot sea container filled with books and computers will be packed and will start on its way to the North of Namibia.  More on this terrific development in our next entry.  Once again our thanks to so many for so much!

Empowering Learners.       



This is a quick view of the Library at ELCIN Nkurenkuru High School.  Those encyclopedias seen here on the shelves arrived via our first sea-container shipment in August 2011.  Mr. Thikerete Belzo is the school librarian and as of last July he said he was still adding to the library collection from our shipment of books.