Monday, April 2, 2012

Charise Canales & Emma Currie

BlogWeek 8 RuralHomestay

The rural homestay was an experienceof a lifetime.
It was one of those rare, unforgettable experiences that will
stay with you forever. We lived for a week in the Omusati region of Namibia
where "development" as the Western world knows it has not occurred.
Many families do not have running water or electricity. However, upon the
people we talked to most were very happy living life day to day. It is a
different type of living, one that relies first hand on the land. Every day
after work, my (Emma’s) host dad came home and hoed in the fields, taking out
the weeds in order for the family’s crops to survive. If hoeing does not occur
then that means they will not have any food to survive. On Saturday I worked in
the fields with my family, even the 10 year old girl spent time hoeing. The
mother told me that some days she wants to just stop hoeing because it is so
much work, but she knows she can't. I then asked if she was happy the way
things were and she said she would not change a thing.
It was very interesting to observe and
live the family dynamic of my host family. The daughter would help prepare
meals every night with her mother (and my slight assistance). Every night a
traditional dish called oshithima was prepared which was mahango cooked over a
fire. It was very filling and is comparable to Pap (made from maize meal) in
Windhoek and South Africa. Then once this was prepared a meat was cooked,
mainly chicken or fish. After the hour and a half food preparation my
host siblings ate outside, while I enjoyed my meal in the living room with my
tate (father) and meme (mother). I have never experienced separate dinners like
that before. After dinner the children would come inside and we would all chat
and relax until bed.
During the rural homestay, I (Charise)
think I gained more perspective on myself, on American culture, and on Namibian
life than I could have in any other situation.
I felt liberated by the disconnect from technology and electricity
because it allowed me to ground myself in life at a simpler level. Our families were so warm and welcoming. They were truly some of the most genuine
people I had ever met. They opened their
homes and their hearts to us, and for that I am truly grateful. If I had to describe my experience with one
word, it would be laughter. Amidst a language divide, we communicated
through laughter. We laughed in surprise
and happiness as we collectively learned from each other. They taught me how to cultivate the fields,
pound mahongu, juice marula fruits, traditionally dance, and so much more.
Our group also went on excursions to
educational sites during the day that allowed us to connect what we’ve learned
in the classroom to life in the North.
We went to the Otapi War Museum where we were able to view a photo
exhibit of the liberation struggle, as well as many artifacts from the
war. That experience expanded our knowledge
and understanding of how dangerous the battle zone was during the fight for
independence. We also visited the palace
of King Uukwaluudhi which was especially interesting for me since some of the
project officers at my internship had just organized a trip to the North the
previous week to speak to the King and the Senior Queen for a few reproductive
health rights court cases. It seems that
with the development of the political system in Namibia, the King and Queen now
serve more as figures of influence than as active members of government.

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