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Archive for June, 2008

On the road…

Hello again!

We have traveled to three communities since the last time we posted and have now completed four audits. We’ve had a chance to see most of the Northern parts of Namibia. Our road trips have given us a great chance to see the landscape and diverse people in Namibia. Our first stop was Rundu, which is at the beginning of the Caprivi strip. This region is known for the woodwork produced in local villages, which gave us a great chance to see incredible craftmanship. We camped by the Kavango River, which was only fifty feet from Angola. Despite our encounters with monkeys and snakes, the Rundu COSDEC was example of great leadership on the part of the staff. The Rundu center offers courses in hospitality, bricklaying/building maintenance, computer skills, and needlework. We also had the chance to talk to several students in the hospitality course about their interests in starting their own business. They see the 2010 World Cup in South Africa as a great market for the skills they are learning.

After that, we traveled to Ondangwa, where we were extremely impressed by the success of their COSDEC center. It was run with efficiency and acted almost like a school with a student hostel and restaurant. It was self-sufficient and used its trainees to build new facilities. The center seemed prepared to serve the larger and more complex community of Ondangwa. The last center we visited was in Opuwo, a community in the west of Namibia. It is only two years old, which presents a different set of challenges. Despite the fact that it is still in its developing stages, we could not have been more touched by the dedication of its staff. It has a committed community board, which has just donated a new plot of land to the center. Opuwo’s population includes several tribes, including some that continue to live a very traditional lifestyle. For us, it was interesting to see how modernization and traditional life can intersect. Because this community is secluded and remote, it must cater to specific markets. Any goods the center produces must be applicable to the residents of Opuwo.

The next two weeks are holiday for the centers, so we are traveling to Victoria Falls and Botswana to experience more new places. We might even stop in Rundu again because we loved our stay there. We will also be finishing our reports on each of these centers and preparing marketing material specific to each course. Lots to do and lots to see! Ohange/peace be with you!

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Hello all!

We have just finished our first week of work in the beautiful country of Namibia. We are working for an organization called COSDEF, which is a community skills development foundation. They run COSDECs, which are the community centers that host the training courses. Our job as interns is to perform audits of each of the centers. We will be traveling to six different towns that have a COSDEC, which is exciting for us because we will be able to see a lot of the country. These audits will be used to direct where funds need to be concentrated and make sure that each center is performing at the level that COSDEF expects. We will also be creating marketing material for each center to promote what they are doing at each center and explain the basic skills that they offer.

We are living in a flat in Tsumeb, a town in the Oshikoto region in the North of Namibia. It is a quiet mining town with a beautiful park and always sunny weather. We live between the Arts & Craft Centre and COSDEFs SME (small and medium enterprise) center, so we have the opportunity to meet a lot of extremely motivated people. We just finished our first audit of the Tsumeb COSDEC. We had to be very thorough on our first one to really grasp how the system works. After a week, we feel that this system has a lot of potential to build the skills and further the career options of those who do not have opportunities for more advanced training. With the dedication of some of its staff, it will be able to serve the entire community and instill a sense of entrepreneurship in its youth.

We leave for Rundu (which is along the Angolan border) today as we start our journey around Namibia. Each COSDEC focuses on different skills from building maintenance to catering, so it will be neat to see the different ways they operate. In the meantime, we also had the opportunity to go to Etosha National Park this weekend. We saw unbelievable amounts of giraffes, an elephant, and two lions, which were 15 feet from our car! As we went to sleep in our campsite, we were serenaded by lions and elephants roaring. What an incredible experience! Needless to say, we are enjoying the beauty of this country while learning a lot about development from our job. Until next time…

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