Friday, July 12, 2013

Thoughts During the Drive to the North

We’re headed to the North on the B1 as I write this entry.  We’re well on the road and making good time.  Gregory and Ethan got all our gear into our shiny new Toyota Corolla rental car, and we’ve had one pit stop at the Okahandja wood carvers market.  Ethan is driving and we’ve already had some nice time to reminisce.  I have been looking forward to some quality time in the back seat to write, so here I am. 

The scenery all around us is dry and barren, with low scrubby shrubs everywhere.  It’s quite beautiful once you get the scope of it all.  We had barely left Windhoek when we saw our first community of baboons, maybe 50 of them.  Namibia is in the midst of a severe drought and we’ve been told that we will experience a lot more dust in the North and perhaps see a lot more wildlife looking for water in the open spaces.  An ad just came on the radio for Namibians Helping Namibians, asking for donations of nonperishable foods and blankets (it’s winter here) at your local Pic and Pay.  It is clear many people are suffering in this drought. 

It feels good to be at this point in the journey … but it’s also been so very nice thus far.  So let me take this time to recap just a bit.    

Peter and Solveig Kjeseth send greetings to everyone who knows them back home. 

I have visited and emailed with Peter in the past, but both Ethan and I had never met Solveig.  Ironically, Solveig is a St. Olaf College classmate to Gregory’s aunt Miriam (Peterson) Haines, and so it was fun to bring family even a bit closer to our experience.   I took loads of notes during our teatime with these wonderful people.  Names, dates, influences, and the story of the overnight imprisonment of Selma and Abisai Shejavali in 1972, which prompted Solveig and others at Wartburg Seminary to action in creating Namibia Concerns.  Solveig and Peter also put the difficult behavior of the Mandela Family into perspective for us – such a sad series of events, which is accompanying the decline of this great man. 

The hospitality on the deck of Sunny Cove Manor was every bit as we remembered from times past and we look forward to being back with the Kjeseths this January. 

On Tuesday, July 9, the primary order of business was to visit The School for Visually Impaired, and we were warmly received with welcoming hugs and a gathering of teacher friends we had met before.   Not only were we so pleased to deliver this batch of Braille books but we will look forward to seeing so many of the learners again in just five months.  When I was visiting with Bianca and Honore, they very quickly told me not to look for them next January in the second grade since they will be in the third grade by then!   Indeed it will be so, as they are very bright little girls.

Emanuel is also good at math and this is his favorite subject.  On this day he was learning Afrikans.  Emanuel is blind in one eye, and so we got used to the seemingly sweet tilting of his head – which made you think he was pondering something – but in fact he was just getting a better focus on our faces.  Emanuel asked me my name.  “Ann,” I said.  “What does that mean?” he asked.  I stumbled and somehow remembered my great Aunt Annie (my namesake) telling me when I was little that Ann meant “grace.”  So I went with this.  Emanuel, said “my name means God with us!”   Indeed it does dear Emanuel, indeed it does.  A second grader and he nailed it!  We will look for him in the third grade – or perhaps running the place – next January!  In the meantime we will stay in touch with Mrs. Franzman, the principal, and Mrs. Strauss, the librarian, so that we can bring even more of the special Braille publications they need for the learners.  We’ve got a system now in place and we feel very good to be making a difference.     

There is just so much to keep telling.  I’ll include one more thought.  And the best transitional sentence here is to alert our readers that Gregory and Ethan are counting warthogs as we drive.  We just had to slow down for a really, REALLY, big boy and his whole family.

In conclusion.  Windhoek, for those of you who have been here, is really on the move.  The downtown continues to change and advance significantly by Western standards.  You can now book into the brand new Hilton if you wish.  Empowering Learners is also adapting as we consider the needs of the learners.  We were asked by our good friend Brad Miller, at what point in the future will we shift from supplying laptops to supplying tablets for the learners at Oshigambo and Nkurenkuru?  Excellent question.  One of many we hope to ask while we’re in the North.       
Thanks for traveling with us dear friends.  Gregory is now at the wheel, Ethan is navigating and watching for rocks in the road, and we’re all humming along to Simon and Garfunkel.  More to come.

Empowering Learners.  

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