Monday, June 29, 2009

Two Weeks with Paka

What an experience to be able to visit Parker (I had not seen him since he left back in November) and see not only his home and teaching environment but share traveling to several areas of Namibia that neither of us had ever seen.

I arrived in the capital city Windhoek and met Parker at the guest house we had reserved. After one night and a good meal with two of his fellow Peace Corps volunteers, we headed to the west coast to visit Swakupmond and Walvis Bay where we spent 2 nights. We had a fantastic kayak tour of a seal colony where a couple of hundred thousand seals reside. It was great fun paddling and watching how curious of us they were. Many would swim right next to us and nibble at our paddles and then splash us and swim away.

We headed up to climb the vast great sand dunes and then northeast to Damaraland to hike to see the White Lady Paintings. These ancient paintings and carvings are 5000-6000 years old. Then it was on to Etosha National Park to tour the water holes for 2 days viewing animals. We were able to see antelope, elephant, giraffe, zebra, jackal, hyena and lion. Absolutely amazing to see these animals in their natural habitat from the safety of our truck and have so many walk right by us. Off to Ovamboland where Parker lives in northern Namibian near the Angola border, to stay with him in his homestead and visit the school for 4 days before having to leave for home.

I have to be the proud father now and brag about my son and how absolutely proud of him I am for what he is doing and the conditions he works with.

Parker is five miles from the closest electricity and in the homestead where he lives there is one water faucet. It’s bucket bathing each day and when the sun sets it is definitely lights out- other than the brilliant stars, it is pitch black.

The school is a 15 minute walk from home and is also without power. The learners all respect Parker and seem to enjoy his teaching, humor and soccer skills- although they are so shy and reserved. The school has minimal supplies and resources. With no electricity there are no computers, no copy machines, no music and no video opportunities. Lesson plans are written on the chalk board and copied on paper or sometimes practiced in work books. That said, the kids seem happy and watching them interact together at break time or recess, its like watching kids in any school- laughing and playing with patched jump ropes, chasing and the little boys wrestling.

I was able to bring with me several soccer balls, basketballs, jump ropes and some school supplies. The principal assembled the students and told them of the gifts from several friends back home. They were so excited to have new things. School was basically called off the rest of the day and they all played with the jump ropes and balls. They are able to check them out from the principals office for recess and also after school for soccer practice.

The school has a soccer team which Parker coaches after school, and through a donation from Lake Washington Youth Soccer I was able to bring about 2 dozen jerseys for the team. They were so excited and so ready to use them in the upcoming games as they have never had official jerseys.

It’s amazing to listen to how fluent Parker is in the native language of Oshiwambo. Life in the homestead and surroundings is quite simple and the family he lives with along with the neighbors seem to really enjoy having Parker in their lives.

You’re doing a good thing Parker and I am so proud of you. I miss you and am so thankful that I had the opportunity to visit and spend time with you.

Love Dad

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