Ekulo, Our School
26 November 2002
I'm sitting at what will be our table in what will be our new home in
January. We are doing our site visit or "on the job training" as The
Peace Corps calls it. I can hear thunder in the distance, along with the
crowing of roosters, mooing of cows, and the cries of goats that never really
sound like goats but more like a child doing an impression of a goat. The
neighborhood cat (that strongly resembles an anorexic Molly) is meowing
persistently after being removed from the "couch" (a bed mattress.) It
is really windy, causing a dust/sand storm, forcing us to now close all the
windows, lest everything be covered in sand. Aaah, Namibia. I think these two
years will fly by.
On Friday, all of us volunteers met our future principles, who then took us
to what will be our permanent sites. Zac and I were very excited to finally
learn where we will be living for 2 yrs. And once again, we got very lucky. Our
final destination is Ekulo Senior Secondary School (S.S.S.) It is a boarding
school for learners (students) grades 8-12. We found this out on Thursday, along
with the fact that we would be living in teacher housing, instead of with a
family. So even on paper, our placement looked good. However, we had no idea
where in Northern Namibia it was. We found someone who did know, and when he
showed us on the map, I could hardly believe it. We are only about 15 km NE of
Etosha Nat'l Park - where the wild things are! Of course, we are in the middle
of nowhere - about 80 km from Ondangwa - the nearest "city" - a place
with a bank and a grocery store. However, it is not too bad. We're only about
800m from the tar road, where we can hitchhike to Omuthiya - a "town"
with some Cuca shops, a post office, an open market, and 2 wholesale stores. The
Cuca shops are quite interesting around here. Omuthiya is 5 km away, so
technically we can walk there once we find some shortcuts through the sand-I
mean "fields". Anyway, we shouldn't starve to death. If you want to
find where we are on a map of Namibia, we are about halfway between Ondangwa and
So anyway, we met our principal on Friday and he is an extremely nice,
well-educated man. He has traveled all over the world and even lived in Europe
for some time. He is a rare species in this country.
My letter writing was just now interrupted to go and see the cobra that our
neighbors just killed. The head was all smashed but the body was still moving.
So far Zac and I stay in these nice modern places, yet we are the only ones in
our group to have encountered 2 scorpions, a swarm of bees, and now a cobra.
Maybe it all balances out in the end somehow. Plus, there are mosquitoes here so
I will probably get Malaria soon. Aaah, Namibia.
So back to our site. The school was built in 1997, so it is relatively new,
and therefore relatively nice. Having been here for a month, I have come to
considerably re-evaluate my standards of what is nice. The school has an
administrative building, many classroom buildings, flush toilets, a dining
commons with a TV/VCR, the boys and girls hostels, and teacher housing. The
classroom buildings are arranged in rows. Each building is one classroom wide
and 4-5 classrooms long. Instead of hallways, they have sand. Of course. We are
currently staying in the house that we will be moving into in January. It's huge
- and we'll have it all to ourselves - so it will be really easy to have
visitors come and stay with us. Hint. Hint. We are replacing a VSO couple. VSO =
Volunteer Service Overseas and is a British based organization equivalent to the
Each bedroom has a really nice closet too. This is the first we've seen
built-in closets in Namibia. So like I said, we got lucky again. We have running
water, electricity, flush toilets and a shower. Incredible wealth in this
country. The VSO couple is really nice, and they've been very helpful in
teaching us about the school. The girl teaches math and is from Holland, so Zac
will take over her classes. This is really good because she is giving him a good
idea about how to teach. The boy is from Sweden and teaches physical science
(physics & chemistry). It is exam time here now, so we haven't been able to
sit in on any classes because there aren't any classes right now. It's working
out really good that we're replacing them because we can buy all the household
things from them before they leave. They've also been giving us lots of travel
And, the best part of all, they took us to Etosha on Sunday. VSO people are
allowed to have cars, and they also get paid a lot more. So we just got in their
car and drove down the sand to Etosha. Now, I thought it was really difficult to
see the animals here. I thought we would drive around all day and maybe catch a
glimpse of a giraffe.
Nope. The animals were everywhere. We saw springboks,
giraffes, zebras, elephants, turtles, lions, ostriches, Oryx, kudu and warthogs
all before lunch. Incredible. We're so lucky to have Etosha so close, but on our
own we have no way of going there because we need a car.
The school we will be working at is one of the better ones in Namibia. We
learned that most schools only pass 4 or 5 students in the grade 10 exams.
Students have to pass the exams in order to continue on to grade 11 and 12. At
our school, only 4 or 5 students don't pass the grade 10 exams. And the
principal is greatly worried by this because 100% of the students should pass. I
think it is this very attitude which has led to Ekulo being such a good school.
High expectations. I think I will truly enjoy working under this principal. He
drives his teachers pretty hard, but look at the results.
On Monday the principal drove us around Omuthiya. He showed us the police
substation, which was a cement block cube with a table and telephone inside. I
don't anticipate their solving any crimes. He also showed us the clinic, where
he said "maybe you can come here if you have a headache" meaning for
any real medical emergency we should go to Ondongwa or Oshakati. He also showed
us the Cuca shop where we could buy a newspaper, and the shop where we should
buy the pre-paid electricity cards. While we were driving around, we could see
many dust tornadoes in the sky. We also passed two kids sitting on a donkey, one
facing forward, the other facing backward. They waved at us jubilantly. The
principal joked that it was their BMW. We also saw two kids out walking their
cars. We've seen these everywhere here. It is a "car" made out of
scrap wire with four skateboard wheels on the bottom. Then there is a stiff wire
coming off the back that the kids use to "drive" the cars. Aaah, the
The one problem with our permanent site is that it is pretty isolated. We're
not really a part of any community or village. Because the learners come here
from all over the north, they don't have any connection with the community
either. So in a way, we won't really have the Namibian village experience that
we would have it we were a part of a community. But in a way the campus is its
own community, so we'll just make all of our secondary projects school-related.
Kala po nawa! (stay well)
click here for more pictures of Ekulo and