The other side of the world

20 August 2019 | Youth

Valentine Ipawa Kasoma



I got to the capital from my home in Rundu to embark on my journey to the United States.

This had me doubting whether I would be able to look after myself far away from home, without my family and friends.

I would be going overseas for the first time.

I had only ever visited South Africa and Angola prior to my US journey.

I calmed myself down and told myself I was going to be okay.

At around 15:00 we had to collect our documents from the United States embassy; then minutes after, we departed from the embassy to the Hosea Kutako International Airport.

Upon arrival we waited for our boarding passes. I was still frightened that we had to take three different flights to get to our destination in Atlanta, Georgia; the reason being that I am alarmed by heights.

The time finally came and we got our boarding passes. We had our luggage wrapped and instantly headed into the British Airways aircraft. We got in, got our flight instructions and immediately departed.

Two hours later, we arrived at OR Tambo Airport in South Africa, and since I was separated from my team on the plane, I then got the chance to enthusiastically engage them on the experience, as we waited for our next flight.

Overseas experience

After a four-hour break we later continued from South Africa to London’s Heathrow Airport. We arrived at Heathrow at 02:00 and then proceeded to Atlanta.

We got picked up by a vehicle that took us to the Hyatt hotel, where we slept for two nights and met fellow African participants with their mentors from 18 different countries.

In the US it was cold. The first morning (a Sunday), we went to Ebenezer Baptist Church, where we met Martin Luther King Jr's older sister.

We got to see the old church he preached in and were offered lunch by the congregation.

Afterwards, we headed straight to the hotel to commence with programme orientation, which included our state and host family allocations.

Namibia was allocated to the state of Vermont, together with Uganda, Tanzania and Liberia, under the supervision of Vincent Pierce from the Vermont Council on World Affairs. After my Vermont experience of being coached in leadership skills and society work, I intend to foster women empowerment.

Vision

My vision is to donate sanitary products, through the assistance of life skills teachers, and distribute them to disadvantaged girls countrywide.

Thus far my team has worked to start up an organisation called EcoPads Namibia and we are working on donating reusable sanitary wear to Mount View High School in Babylon, because we feel absenteeism is linked to the lack of sanitary products for girls at the school.



Extracurricular activities

It is to my advantage that I am the head girl of my school. I have initiated a girls’ club at the school. On a weekly basis we host campaigns by selling little treats to assist our life skills teacher with distributing toiletries to disadvantaged girls at schools, as well as donating to needy.

We have also partnered up with the Forum for African Women Educationalists Namibia (FAWENA) and other schools in the region, to build up a strong foundation, focused on eliminating inequalities between the girl and boy child, upholding their rights and giving a helping hand to the girl child.

Lastly, I am the branch secretary for political and internal affairs in the Namibia National Students Organization (Nanso) branch at my school. I use my leadership positions to fight for the rights of learners at my school and to influence many people in the society to offer a helping hand to those that are in a dire need of it.

I want to give a special thanks to the United States embassy for the platform granted to explore, learn and understand the other side of the world!

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