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Archive for the ‘Interns – 2007’ Category

The Waiting

As noted in my previous post, we’ve been spent a great deal of time recently waiting for the Namibian bureaucracy to process paperwork. But, we’ve tried to make the most of the time that we’ve spent waiting. Two weeks ago we rented a car and drove to the Namib Desert (if you’ve seen Planet Earth – Deserts, you’ve seen it. If not, you’re missing out on the whole series). The park is located about 350km of dirt, sand and gravel roads from Windhoek. We rented a VW Golf and treated it as our rally car all weekend. It’s pretty easy to imagine Travis gripping the dashboard and Kevin screaming in delight as we fishtailed and jumped dry riverbeds at 80mph. If you can’t imagine it, we have plenty of video to document it.

Unsurprisingly, about 50km from reaching the dunes, we had a blowout and ending up camping on the side of the road. About an hour after stopping, fixing the tire, and setting up camp, the first vehicle to pass us stopped to see if we needed help. As is it turns out, our blowout had occurred in front of his 11,000 acre farm. He invited us to stay at his guesthouse, which we warmly accepted, and spent the night sleeping on a mattress for the first time in four weeks. Only in Namibia—I love this country.

As the oldest desert in the world, the Namib Desert is more than breath-taking. Over 1200 miles long and 150 miles wide, the dunes roll without an end in sight. We spent an entire morning hiking Crazy Dune, the world’s largest, eating lunch at the summit. We spent the remainder of the day barefooted in the sand before watching sunset from a dune that grants a panorama of the entire park. The vastness of the park certainly forced a reappraisal of my relationship with this beautiful planet to which we belong—undoubtedly a spiritual experience.

I’ll be in Namibia for ten more days before making my way up through Zambia, Malawi, and Tanzania over the next six weeks. Kev and Trav leave for Zambia later this week to volunteer in clinics for the next few weeks before we reunite and head to Lake Malawi at the end of the month. From there, we’re planning a two week diving trip in Zanzibar/Pemba next month before flying back to the states in late August.

Much love from Namibs.

Benjamin

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It’s always difficult to know where to begin with these. Below, I’ve tried to outline some of the broad details, but it’s really the aggregate of the small, everyday interactions that constitutes the real experience of being here, striving to shape a direction in a distant, yet increasingly familiar place. Overall, I can’t imagine having a more enriching experience thus far. The people we’ve met, the places we’ve seen, and especially the people who have embraced us, have really just made us the narrator of their story. This can only be explained once we have the available bandwidth to upload some video footage from our time here.

It’s been six weeks now since returning to Namibia, so I apologize for how overdue this is. The majority of these six weeks has been spent in Windhoek, where I’ve been arranging operational agreements while building the human relationships for our long-term projects. Having Kevin and Travis here has been wonderful, reminding me of the importance of family and friends and reinvigorating our mutual vision to help build durable communities here.

In short, our leisure (this isn’t work) has demanded a great deal of flexibility. We have relied on our sense of humor to tolerate the time needed to navigate the bureaucracy and obtain work visas here. Yet, the non-governmental aspects of our leisure have been a refreshing respite from bureaucratic wrangling. Within the civil action handicraft network, we have partnered with an extensive Namibian arts trust and developed a distribution channel from four separate regions in Namibia. With Kevin and Travis arriving two weeks ago, we have made site visits to our target communities and set up a management strategy to assist our artisan groups once we return to the states. We have two separate projects in the Kavango region (along the Angolan border), one in Windhoek, one in the south, and another on the west coast.

For transport to each of these places, we’ve enjoyed adjusting to the preferred Namibian mode of transport, namely hitch-hiking everywhere. We’ve definitely had some interesting rides with engaging conversations ranging post-apartheid governmental policy, the trade of game animals, Hillary Clinton, and the war in Iraq. It’s been enlightening to see how public opinion here has turned against the Bush administration, whereas a year ago everyone that I spoke with here praised American foreign policy decisions.

One of non-profits that we’ve partnered with is affiliated with a community orphanage, and here we’re exploring the possibility of providing funds and volunteers for building and establishing a school for the orphans within the next two years. As for managing next year’s community development projects, we have partnered with the Ministry of Youth and Hostels and the Rossing Foundation to establish our role in opening community development centers in 2-4 villages next May.

Well, that’s all for now. I hope everyone is healthy in mind and spirit. Drop me a line if you get a chance, although I’ll probably be slow to respond given my limited access to internet. Bless you all,

Kevin, Travis & Benjamin

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