After receiving the fifth hand-written letter ending with a very commanding "UPDATE YOUR BLOG!" I've decided I better deliver (you can all thank Amanda Corbyn for being the straw that broke this camel's back). I really am sorry I've been such a bum about writing. It's a daunting task to write about my life here because there is just so much background to explain before any of my stories will really make sense. But here's my best attempt at a general update.
Lately, I've been on the road traveling all over this country (one of the perks of working for the Ministry of Youth) mainly to attend or to facilitate at workshops. We also get to travel to other PCV's sites to collaborate on projects and I also had a vacation in there somewhere. It's nice to have a home to come back to where everyone noticed you were gone and really missed you. So though I feel like an old hobo and I've sworn to quit these rambeling ways one of these days (did you catch that, Cathie?) I quite enjoy packing up my backpack every other week to explore more of the unknown. Sometimes when I'm crammed in the back of a backie sharing the ride with some goats, I look out over the scenary and think, "this is the best job in the world!"
I've been working on a couple of projects lately. Beata and I just finished doing an employment and entrepeneurship workshop for the youth. With unemployment at a staggering 70% in this community, you could tell they were starving for it. It took a lot of work and planning to put on this two-day workshop but it was definitly worth it to see the participants motivated and with a brighter outlook on their future.
Next week, I am going to Windhoek to be trained on micro-gardening (otherwise known as table-top gardens). Our hope is to open a demonstration garden at our centre so that we can train youth how to make these easy, affortable gardens at their own homes. It's part of a world-wide Peace Corps initiative to increase food security. With so many malnurished people in our community, this seems to be a great solution --however, the reality is that it's not easy to get people stoked about gardening, especially if it requires them to put down their beer-bottle for a few minutes (I'm not trying to be harsh, but when I walk through the informal settlements and see people stumbeling drunk out of the shebeens at 6am, I've become a little jaded). We've got nothing to lose by trying here, but the odds are stacked against us. The Nama tribe (the majority in Mariental) was historically nomadic and though they have westernized over the past few decades, it is not in their culture to garden like it is for the Oshiwambo tribe in the North. Anyway, I remain hopeful and will keep you updated with the progress.
I've lost count of how long I've been here, I believe it's been over 6 months. I'm really starting to settle in nicely. I often find myself saying or doing things in a very Namibian way. I don't notice I'm doing it until I'm called out by another PCV. All in all, life is good. I definity miss home and think of all of you frequently. I can't tell you how many times I've had a really rough day and when I find a package, postcard, or letter in my mailbox, my mood is instantly turned around. Thanks to everyone who has made an effort to stay connected.