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Ekulo, our future school

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 Tsumeb.

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 Peace Corps.This is our house at Ekulo

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 tips.

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.Dsc04212.jpg (143053 bytes)

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 ingenuity.

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)
Love Sera

click here for more pictures of Ekulo  and our house

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