Making connections

22 September 2017 | Youth

Clouds looming heavily, our pupils stepped off the St Paul’s bus. Not sure what to expect, they entered into foreign territory to experience a different side of life that is a daily occurrence for many Namibians. On our arrival, we were met by the headmaster of the Tobias Haienyeko Project School, Mr. Brian Ndambeni, who was perfectly framed between the tented classrooms. His positive outlook is a force to be reckoned with. He not only believes in his staff but he also believes that his scholars are vital pillars of the community, who will one day uplift Namibia.

This primary school, which was established in 2015, has approximately 860 scholars, with an average of 40 children per class. These children are taught inside enormous army tents. The only light source, on this gloomy day, peeked through the small openings of the tents. One classroom appeared to be in complete darkness – the teacher explaining that the children’s eyes adjust after a while. The buildings that were in use, had broken windows and very few handmade resources. One unfinished building, probably in this state due to financial constraints and limited Government Aid, had no roof and weeds as tall as the window frames.

As our tour came to an end, the children were let out for break. Hundreds of little feet scurried to get the one and only meal for the day. The Government supply of a bowl of porridge for each child – which is a staple, but as we know, not nearly nutritious enough for these growing little bodies. A very kind teacher, who is also a parent at St Paul’s, works extremely hard every month to secure donated fruit and vegetables for the scholars. This is a difficult task due to the inconsistency of the donations. The headmaster described how the children blossom into flowers after break – indicating that the porridge enables them to concentrate and provides them with the necessary energy that is required to sustain them for the whole day.

Despite all the unpleasant conditions, one point that must be noted, is the complete joy and happiness on these children’s faces. They make the most of their situation. The impressive part of all of this is that their attendance is voluntary and they have made the choice to further their education and brighten their future. The St Paulian’s that attended this outreach programme, all walked away with hearts full of humility and joy from all the smiling faces. Indeed, according to a Grade 7 pupil,” The trip was the most astonishing experience as it taught me that my so called problems and issues are nothing compared to those of the children at Tobias Hainyeko Project School. As Malala Yousafzai once said, “One book, one pen, one child and one teacher can change the world.” We hope this school reaches far places and that the children will soar in life as well as in school.”


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