A Long-Awaited Return To Namibia, Part 1

How to prepare for my trip to Namibia?, I am asking myself a few days before boarding the plane to Africa.

This time I am writing down a list of all the things I need to pack for my trip to Namibia, in South West Africa. I need to get the things out of my head and onto paper. Because if I don’t, I will think about it all the time. What will I put in my suitcase?

But as I am writing the list, all of the things I like about Namibia and the people occur to me in my imagination. For example, I don’t need much clothes because I can wash my clothes there. Doing laundry in Namibia is so simple; the laundry will be dry in less than two hours because the sun is so strong.

I am thinking about Namibian women washing loads of clothes, by hand, in a plastic tube. Nobody owns a washing machine in the township where I am at. It’s called Katutura and it is just outside of Windhoek, the capital of Namibia. Since 2016, I have been running a social project there. It’s called Creabuntu (a combination of create and Ubuntu). Ubuntu is a South-African saying that means “I am because of you.” It’s about community and oneness.

When I left the Yukon, my plan was to stay in Germany, but instead I went to Namibia to do an internship at a German newspaper, for three months. Namibia used to be a German Colony (1884–1915), so there is still a population of Germans and a newspaper for them—besides many other typical German things (not to mention a German beer-brewing company).

Anyway, in 2016 I got to know Namibia and the people there. I went to the townships, saw how families lived in shacks and, while back in Germany, I had the idea to offer children in Katutura art education: creative writing, drama and painting. Why? Because when I was a child, I went to an art school and overcame my shyness by being involved in drama classes. Gaining life skills, through art, is the idea behind it. It’s easy to start a project in Namibia. Just go there and do it.

I found an orphanage where there were children who wanted to do some activities, and I started doing drama with them. It worked. Over the years, I founded an NGO called Creabuntu, hired local art and drama teachers, and the project was running in different locations in the township. In addition to that, I connected to a soup kitchen in Katutura. Over the years, the project grew into a big network of people and supporters. Still, it’s a small project. Our big plan was to build an art school with a soup kitchen in it. We tried to buy land in the township, but we didn’t get the plot we wanted. Instead, we are now renovating a community center where there is a soup kitchen we are supporting. The soup kitchen is cooking for children in the township. The most important thing is that locals are doing it—helping their community. We are providing the money and organizing the project.

I haven’t been to Namibia for two years, because of the pandemic. I only have 10 days there, so it’s important to plan everything ahead. Meeting people from our project, visiting the constructions and setting up drama lessons for the children. Do I feel prepared for Namibia? I have been there seven times. I will be happy to go back, to cook food with the volunteers there, talk to the people, wash my laundry with my hands and do whatever is needed to keep the project going.For people who want to learn more about the project: www.creabuntu.de

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