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Making Friends--Youth Reports from Namibia

Ombuaneno jOmbazu Hembandina
(Exchanging Cultures Beyond Borders)

Photo-EdlaTjike mapanga (Hi friends),
The two groups, The Earthwise Environmental Club and Youth Beyond Borders, met on the 15th of August to work on the project at the Cheetah Conservation Fund. EEC is an environmental club at Paresis Secondary School in Otjiwarongo and YBB is a youth group from America. Both groups are concerned and interested in environmental issues and arrangements were made for them to work on a project of setting up a camping site at the CCF ranch. This is to be used by Namibian youth and visitors for environmental educational programmes. It is the first time for both groups to meet youth from other countries and their interaction in terms of cultures, languages, behaviours, attitudes, personalities and environmental approaches are of most importance for the advisors to monitor and give attention to. At the beginning of the tour it seemed to be very difficult and impossible for the two groups to communicate and interact spontaneously.
We as supervisors have tried to give much attention to this matter as it was one of the objectives to meet and learn and understand each other's culture much better. After various programmes, like teaching each other various games, plays, songs, languages, jokes and stories, everything changed completely in a very positive way. It was amazing for both the youth and adults to see that happening. Regular pow-wows have also been held in order to keep continuous contact with the youth, in which everyone expressed ideas and shared feelings. During these occations many problems were raised and solved.
My personal opinion is that I find this programme as very important to the youth because it will enable them to understand each other's backgrounds, which in turn will improve their relationships and respect for each other. It was wonderful of YBB to have chosen Namibia to visit and especially for our school's club to be part of this great programme. The EEC appreciates what YBB has done and this will have a permanent impact, especially on both groups' cultural and environmental views and perspectives. I hope this to be the beginning of more meetings of such nature to be organized in the future, especially for Namibian youth to visit other countries and continents.
Karee naua (stay well),
Edla Rikambura Kaura
Teacher, Paresis School and member of Herero Tribe

A Conversation with Muriel and Regina
Muriel Arroyo, U.S, and
Regina Guriras, Namibia
Photo-Muriel & ReginaMuriel- Regina, what tribe are you from?
Regina- I am Damara.
M-What kind of things would you like to pass down to your children so your culture won't be lost?
R- I don't know that much of our culture. But maybe like before you go to sleep at night we put something in the fire. I don't know what it is, some animals dung, to keep the Sagumand--like the witch doctor--away.
M- Do you know a lot about the witch doctors?
R- No.
M- Do you have certain superstitions?
R- But most of the healers just pretend, just eat people's money. Muriel, from which tribe are you?
M- No tribe, but my parents are from the Philippines.
R- Now why did you move to America?
M- I was the first one born in America. I don't really know why, but my mom moved here first by herself and left my dad and three other brothers and sister and came over to America because they thought it would be better. They were real poor over there, but they thought they would find a better life here.
R-And did they find a better life?
M- No.
R- Was it the same?
M- No, it was worse. When I was young we were ok, we were kind of well off, but now it's not like that any more. It got worse. I still keep my head up though.
R- Do you have cultural stuff your parents tell you?
M- They are really into religion and stuff. I'm scared of it, like all these crosses and statues all over the house. I'm not really a religious person. We do certain things like cook meat and stuff. They have witch doctors in my family. One time I hurt my back, my uncle did this whole ritual but it made it worse. And they have a lot of spirits in the Philippines and stuff like little dwarfs running around and people who eat babies. My mom lived in the provinces, but I've never been there.
R- Would you like to go there?
M- Of course I'd like to go there, just to see where I came from.
R- You have never been to the Philippines?
M- I have always been in the city (San Francisco).
R- But now you are in Africa.
M- Yeah. (both laugh)
R- What do you think about my country?
M- What I first thought about Africa, I thought it was all wilderness and all running wild. But when we got to the airport, then it hit me, like oh yeah, there are big cities in Africa. I'm used to watching National Geographic--like lions chasing hyenas. When I was in Johannesburg it felt like San Francisco, like people selling stuff on the corners. It's kind of like that in San Francisco too. But when we got deeper into here it was all beautiful, like in Etosha. I'd read about Africa in books, so it was like WOW, it's pretty cool that I'm here and I read about it in a book.
R- When your trip is over are you thinking of coming to Africa again?
M- Definitely, I want to come back and bring my teachers to see what I did here. I plan to come back here and show him what I did.
M- Regina, what do you think about the Americans coming here? Do you think we are making a difference
R- You guys are really cool. You've taught us a lot of stuff and we've traveled together to get to know each other and stuff like that. It's really nice
M- what's the most surprising thing about the teenagers from America?
R- We are mostly the same. Same music, we dress the same, we act the same mostly and stuff like that.
M- Same with me. When I thought about people in Namibia, I was thinking they would not have what we have. I 'm poor myself and I was thinking that you guys would think that I have more. I didn't know how you would react to us coming. But I saw that you have the same kind of personality, like the same music, like to dance and all that stuff.

Earthwise Environmental Club
by Regina Guriras, Namibia
I am in the Earthwise Environmental Club (EEC). The club was formed in 1995, at Karundu Primary School, by a volunteer teacher Miss Stacy Lynn. But that was almost at the end of the year and we didn't do a lot that year. Although the time was very short, we held a tour to the Waterberg Plateau. And it was a lot of fun. I learned a lot concerning the environment. When I came to the high school, the club almost died, because there was no one that could be our supervisor. But I am very thankful to Mrs. Kaura who had that idea of starting a recycling club or environmental club. When she came to the Teacher Resource Centre for some advice on how to form a club, she met Miss Lynn. There Miss Lynn told her about us. I was very happy to hear through the intercom the announcement made to call all the EEC members for a meeting.
That's how the club continues in high school. Last year I was elected as secretary for the club and this year again reelected to the same post. We held a lot of activities all through last year and this year. Some of the things we did were very interesting and educative. We held tours a couple of times to CCF to learn about Cheetahs and we were involved in a lot of projects that took place there. We were the ones involved in choosing the final camp site and now we and the YBB youth are busy building and establishing the camp. This is one of the great things we have done so far for the young people of Namibia and other countries also. We also visited the cement factory, the only cement industry in Namibia. We have also visited the only medicine factory in Namibia. But they don' only produce medicine at Fabupharm. It's a very big production and it's also known internationally. We did hold some campaigns on environmental awareness.
For the next term we are planning on holding a tour to Etosha National Park, or Waterberg. We will certainly be visiting the new camp site at CCF that we are building. We are looking forward to working together with groups andother people. Our stay with the YBB members has made a big change in our lives already. In the future we are having a lot of challenges , but I hope and trust we are going to cope with that challenges as a group. And try to withstand them. I thank you.
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