13/11/ – 17/11/2017
As in broad rivers, the basalt rocks stretch from the top to the bottom of the “zebra mountains”. As this black rock heats up too much in the sun for something to thrive there, the dark streaks remain nude and give the mountain its name and unique appearance.
And right here, in front of this beautiful panorama at the bottom of the named mountains, is the school of Otjimuru. 128 students are currently taught here. The seven classes are spread over a brick building, three tin huts and a tent. The biggest problem with tin huts is that it gets really hot and sticky in the daytime despite the open door and windows. Personally, I already have sweating attacks when I attend a double lesson of maths in these rooms. In addition, I burn myself on the metal sheet when I carelessly lean on it. The tent, on the other hand, is better ventilated due to the fact that it is completely open half a metre from the ground, but every little gust of wind blows dust and sand into the classroom. Furthermore, neither the tin huts nor the tents are sufficiently protected against storm and rain. The three classes that are currently taught in the brick building can consider themselves very lucky as they have the best teaching conditions. Plus, “DER Touristik” has donated money for the expansion of four classrooms – divided into two wings – so that the rest of the children are able to enjoy the same.
As I pitch my tent for this week in Otjimuru on Monday, most of the work has already been completed: the walls are upright and even covered by a roof. Starting on Tuesday, the floors will be worked on, the tread surface of one classroom will be completed each day. As a result, the construction of all four classrooms will be completed by this Friday. For next week, the steps and the “border” (the casting of a kind of a pavement) of the two wings are waiting to be dealt with. For the construction team, the days currently represent sort of a finale in Otjimuru. The painting, glazing and cable laying will be taken over by other colleagues at a later time.
By the way, the school already has a hostel, plenty of restrooms as well as teacher accommodation and soon enough classrooms. Only a school kitchen is still missing to follow the example of Omuhonga (Omuhonga as pioneer) to be certified as a full-time school by the state.
I use the week to help with the construction work, as well as to pop in some lesson of the different classes.
I already know the construction supervisor Tadeus and some of the construction workers from last year which is why integrating is not difficult for me. The people know that, although I am not a trained construction worker, I can handle various towing and cleaning tasks. Hence, I push cement, carry water buckets, clean wheelbarrows and learn something about the process of erecting buildings from Tadeus.
The lessons I attend to observe and sometimes to support the teachers are a lot fun to me and most of the children. Since the final exams are due as of next week, they mainly review the teaching contents at the moment. Every now and then, the teachers take some time so that the children can hold a conversation with me and drill me with questions. And of course, I “drill” back.
The lessons show me that there is a big discrepancy in terms of performance and I suspect that unfortunately, not everyone will be transferred to the next grade. However, I feel a great joy when I see the curiosity and the thirst for knowledge of many “cheerful” kids. I find a very extreme case in the second grade: a 26-year-old student struggles with the same math problems as his classmates who are almost 20 years younger. Here in Kaokoland, there is no age limit for attending school and this young gentleman decided to learn reading, writing and arithmetic only late and against the protest of his environment. A great example of strong will and steadfastness. Concerning the pure learning ability, he is naturally inferior to his classmates. However, he does not let himself put off and works hard. Anyone who does not throw in the towel during such adversities will eventually reach their goals, I’m sure. Great respect from my side…