A big thanks is due to all the people who donated money for the outreach center. Since PC took down the website explaining what the grant was designed for, I'll give a rehash of it here.
The Emvula Outreach Center seeks to provide students with life skills, a meeting place for HIV/AIDS clubs, and improved access to information. There are 140 students at Emvula Junior Secondary School in Okando, a rural community in Namibia. The HIV/AIDS epidemic has hit the community hard, leaving 30% of the students orphaned. The current Outreach Center at the school is quickly deteriorating due to a poorly built floor. The use of the room has become very limited because it's so dusty. The community has already made significant contributions to the project by converting an empty classroom into the current center. The future center will have computers for educational purposes, along with HIV/AIDS material for the students to read. The center will also be used for the school’s AIDS awareness club and programs like My Future My Choice and Windows of Hope, which build positive life skills.
I blogged awhile ago about how our gravel road is being paved and that Okando is the headquarters for this operation. One really nice thing is that this brings in lots of skilled labor. So two weeks ago I tracked down Tate Angula, the king of concrete. He said he could start working the following weekend and that all we had to do was remove as much of the old concrete during the week, easier said than done. I turned my BIS periods (library classes) into a chain gang and we busted the old floor apart with hoes. It was pretty hilarious since after five minutes of hammering the room became unbearably dusty. So we had to vacate and we played games under a tree until the dust settled. Then we would pound for another couple of minutes and then escape to the fresh air outside.
On Thursday of that week I went to Ongwediva with my HOD, head of department (kind of like an assistant principal). We bought concrete, shelves, and paint from Benz, which is an enormous building supply store. It has to be one of the biggest enclosed spaces in Namibia, and just like most of the country, it's almost all empty!
Paka came over that weekend and we did what all PCVs do when they get together; enjoy some great food and movies. We made spaghetti, oshikandela pancakes, thick-crust hawaiian pizza, french toast, and omelets (if you remove all the commas in that sentence it also sounds delish). For our viewing pleasure the menu consisted of Taken, Inglorious Basterds, and Eastbound and Down.
Tate Angula along with three workers (plus Paka) came over last Sunday and we poured some concrete. I told some learners that if they want to help out they were more than welcome, but only one showed up, Elias. He's an exuberant and exceedingly clever kid in my grade 9 math class. I sometimes think that if he was in America, he would be diagnosed with ADHD and put on ritalin. He's always the kid blurting out answers and making jokes during class. I know I'm not supposed to have favorites, but Elias is definitely in the top three.
We finished the 50 square meter room by the early afternoon. I learned a lot about making concrete, it's some pretty amazing stuff; it actually gets stronger the older it gets! Paka and I parted ways and Elias came over to visit. I wanted to reward him, so I let him play some super nintendo games on my laptop. We ate some curried rice and lentils and watched District 9. It was interesting to watch a movie about alien apartheid in a post apartheid country. He picked up on most of the parallels to South African apartheid by himslef.
This past week we've been trying to keep the floor wet since concrete needs to stay wet for a week to reach its full strength. I joke around with Elias, saying that he's the project manager. He rounds up learners so they can gather water and pour it on the floor. Having Elias on my side really makes things a lot easier.
This coming week we're planning on moving everything back in the room. I'm hoping it will be done by Thursday, so My Future My Choice has a place to meet.
Hoo! Aah! That's the sound of the learners working on the chain ga-a-ang.