Monty's Year at Gobabeb Training and Research Centre, Namibia


Given the content of my last few posts, you might be fooled into thinking that all I have been doing is camping and watching sunsets.  Let me put those thoughts to rest!  While many schools are able to come to Gobabeb for day or weekend field trips, most schools cannot afford the cost of transport to our remote location.  Thanks to a grant from the Finnish Embassy, over the past week we were able to bring Gobabeb to them!  In the last four days I have worked with close to 400 kids in 7 schools (40 more tomorrow!).  I am beat!

Grinnell Corps Fellow Michelle Fournier (who I am now taking over for) spent much of the last year creating the Namib Desert Environmental Picture Building Game.  Inspired by a similar game developed in South Africa, the objective is to teach environmental ethics using issues familiar to those that live in the Namib (i.e. mining, deforestation, water scarcity, waste management, informal settlements, etc.).  As many classrooms here are managed using old-school teaching methods, students actually find the game extremely fun, and it forces them to think critically in ways that are quite challenging.

One of the most interesting schools we visited was located in the DRC (Democratic Resettlement Community), an informal settlement located outside of the coastal community of Skakopmund.   Informal settlements are outside of municipal jurisdiction and do not have sanitation, adequate water access, medical facilites, or schools.  With increased urbanization, more and more people are moving here and setting up shacks from whatever material they can scrounge up.

The DRC School Project and Community Center was started 5 years ago by two social activists and has expanded modestly since then.  The school aims to take kids off the street and help bridge them to public government schools within a year or two.  The school also hosts local organizations and offers free computer classes to the community.  I really enjoyed talking to the woman who continues to develop and build upon her original initiative.

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