Hard to believe we are now halfway through our time in Namibia.
The After School Program remains our largest project where every afternoon (Monday to Thursday) at 2:00 pm, around 100 children & youth descend upon the church to commence a three hour program. This program has now been running for eight years & is a testimony to the hard work & dedication of the young adults of the church (mainly tertiary students) who volunteer their time to serve their community.
Most afternoons we work with the Grade 3 & 4 class, which consists of around 25 children. Homework is the first priority & Kate finds herself in high demand for math’s tutoring from all age groups (the high school group in particular). Once homework is finished we then hand out additional worksheets to assist with ongoing literacy & numeracy skills.
Grade 3 & 4 classroom (not much room to move)
In recent weeks we’ve been very short of volunteers due to exam commitments etc. On some occasions we only had five volunteers to look after 100 kids. This is not a good ratio! On some occasions we found ourselves both looking after a class of 25 on our own without any Herero speaking leaders. This was a steep learning curve (well for Mike anyway) & crowd control was the order of the day. It’s always a relief to get home around 5:30 & put our feet up.
Mike with some of the children during a break in activities (sorry some of these photos are LARGE however there appears an ongoing glitch when they are posted.)
On these occasions where the workers are few & the children are many (& you need to do a lot of shouting to make yourself heard), it can sometimes be disheartening that so little progress is made with homework & in making any positive progress in the lives of the children. These “low” points however are quickly forgotten when kids randomly come up & greet you with a big hug or rush up to you on a Sunday morning to sit next to you in church.
These group hugs are a wonderful tonic to keep on going
The final hour of the program (from 4:00 pm) is spent doing different activities with more emphasis on fun & interaction. We have been leading Bible Club for the Grades 1 to 4 group on a Wednesday afternoon. Many of the children’s gospel songs we sing in Australia are just as enthusiastically embraced by the children of Namibia! The Colin Buchanon song “John 14:6” is a particular favourite.
Life Skills are also taught. One of the leaders has been taking the upper Primary group though a series of lessons on “choices”. Every choice has a consequence. Make a wise choice & reap the benefits. Make a poor choice & it may affect you for the rest of your life (or even cut your life short). The lesson touches on HIV / AIDS issues & teenage pregnancy (keeping in mind this program is primarily an HIV / AIDS based initiative).
Assembly time to say goodbye to one of the Volunteers
One of our friends from home gave us some money to purchase soccer balls for the program. We recently purchased the first ball & brought it along on Monday. Each afternoon there has been a HUGE game of soccer going on which the boys embrace with great enthusiasm. Being mindful that there is no grass in Windhoek & the soccer field is bare earth & stones, it is no surprise that this takes a big toll on soccer balls! By Friday the ball is looking very sad & will probably need to be thrown out within a week. We are always amazed that many of the boys play these soccer games in bare feet (ouch).
Assembly time continues
We have spent some time with the three young people that recently gave their lives to Christ. We gave then some age specific Scripture Union notes & purchased a youth Bible where one was recently lost / stolen. We briefly discussed church, Sunday School & baptism. The materials were greatly appreciated. Two of the girls (sisters) told us how their father had split the scene when they were born & how he has not played a role in their lives ever since. They are now in upper Primary.
In a poor church you need to make do with what you have. On a daily basis we find seats are broken, windows are broken, tables are broken, brooms are broken, toilets are broken. The program needs to provide its own photocopy paper & toilet paper as the church cannot afford it. There is little money to go around to fix anything.
We were blessed this last week when a group of young adults on a Christian GAP Year program from South Africa joined us for three days. We were overjoyed. Lots of helpers!!!! These young people were strong in their faith & wanted to share the good news of Jesus with their Namibian neighbours. They did a great job & during the final hour each day they led us in games, activities, & skits with a clear Christian message. Good conversations in groups then followed. The children had a great week.
Some of the ASP volunteers along with our brothers & sisters from South Africa
Who knows what the next six weeks of the program will bring but we look forward to it. The students have some great role models before them on a daily basis & we can only hope & pray that they will make wise choices in the future. Wise choices in relation to their personal lives & goals, along with wise choices in relation to the gospel message. Please pray for the program & the impact it has on their lives.
The end of another day!