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The Himbas September 20, 2007

Posted by isabelleinnamibia in Beauty, Cows, Culture, Education, Home and away, Namibia.
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It was in Damaraland where we visited one of the last surviving, truly traditional groups in Namibia, the Himba people. The Himbas are a group of matrilineal nomadic cattle herders known for their defiance against the pull towards modernity. Despite the rapid developments in towns across Namibia, the Himbas continue to live in a traditional way, abiding by their tribal laws, dress and rituals, despite the discrimination they face from other Namibians for being “the ones left behind”. In order to be accepted into society or to send their children to school, they are expected to conform and reject their traditions. But it is their traditions that define their identity and existence, and so their children remain uneducated, unemployed and unaccepted. With their life in the village, it is easy to forget that a world of technology and development exists, and whilst the Himbas are self-sufficient and live a more-or-less sustainable lifestyle through their cattle herding, they do encounter modern life when they visit the growing towns around Namibia, which they find challenges their ethos. (more…)

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Workshop on Wheels August 10, 2007

Posted by isabelleinnamibia in Eco-goodness, Education, Home and away, Namibia, Oh..interesting, Ovitoto, The job.
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Last week, I was involved in the Desert Research Foundation of Namibia’s (DRFN) “Workshop on Wheels”. The idea is simple yet genius. Hire a coach, fill it with people with an interest in Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, and travel around the country looking at different Energy focused projects. All expenses paid. I approached the DRFN a few months ago about the wonderful wood-efficient stove, the Tso-Tso Stove (meaning Twig-Twig, referring to the small amount of wood needed for cooking on it), and they decided to include us as one of the visited projects.

As I have previously mentioned, we did a training for seven community members before Christmas on how to make these wood-efficient stoves, with the idea that they can set up a business in manufacturing these stoves. Since many people cook on open fires, even in urban areas, and wood is a non-renewable and limited resource, these stoves are important towards tackling desertification as well as global warming (on a very small scale though! But every little counts!). As so little wood is needed for cooking on them, as they are incredibly efficient, it saves the amount of money people spending on firewood, or on the amount of time they spend collecting firewood from the veld (some people walk up to 15km to collect firewood). The stove is also a lot safer to use, especially around children, and incredibly quick to cook with.

As you can tell, I like this stove a lot, but it isn’t so easy to convince people to use them. People traditionally like a good ol’ fire to sit around: for heat, for light, for the communal aspect of it, and for many, the religious aspect of the Holy Fire. Whilst the Tso-Tso Stove is cheaper, safer, quicker and healthier, for the general public, nothing beats an open fire under the stars. (more…)

World Music Day June 29, 2007

Posted by isabelleinnamibia in Culture, Danger, Education, Namibia, Oh..interesting, Time out, Windhoek.
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The 21st Of June is World Music Day. Originally founded in France in 1982, as Fête de la Musique, it is held each year in many countries across the world, celebrating the diversity of music from all different corners of the world. And Namibia is no different. Well, a little maybe. For starters, the Namibian World Music Day was held on Saturday 23rd, typically late, and it was more a celebration of Namibian music as opposed to that of other countries.

Being originally founded by the French, the Franco-Namibian Cultural Centre (FNCC, a fine establishment offering art and French classes, hosting many shows and exhibitions of local and international artists and boasting a rather good library) sponsored the all-day event. (more…)

A global education May 29, 2007

Posted by isabelleinnamibia in Creatures, Eco-goodness, Education, Home and away, Hot, Namibia, Oh..interesting, Out of the city, The job, Time out, VSO.
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One of the perks of being a VSO in Namibia is that we get Global Education trips (other VSO countries don’t get them!). VSO subsidise trips for about 30 volunteers to go to a particular part of Namibia to learn about an aspect of the country. The trips are decided and arranged by volunteers, and are a great opportunity to meet other volunteers from different backgrounds and living in different regions, as well as a chance to catch up with some of the group that I came out with. This trip was to look at Desert Conservation and Tourism, based in Swakopmund on the coast with a night camping at Gobabeb Desert Research Station in the er.. desert. And being a Global Education trip, and the VSO motto being “Sharing Skills, Changing Lives”, I feel it is appropriate to share my findings and learnings with you.

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