The Hunters’ and Teachers for Africa Report from Namibia
 


Feb 2nd,2006

The Big Five
African children begin the school year in January. The first day of school began at Community Hope with the normal hustle and bustle of kids everywhere. This year we relocated to a church that has given us a whole side of the building to use. With three newly renovated classrooms and office space we have tripled enrollment. The smell of new paint and seeing all the expectant shining little faces seemed to make all the hard work worth the effort.

African Children

Counting heads, I noticed one missing student, Riaan Gosebt. This wasn't so unusual, he doesn't have anyone to care for him, yet the first day of school was one day that none of our children would want to miss.  I made a mental note to find him as soon as I could get away.

Riaan is from a family of 18 children, different mothers and fathers all mixed into one large brood. His father is in jail and his mom is dying of aids. We affectionately call Riaan and his four younger siblings, "The Big Five". Going door to door we found them three years ago and brought them to our day care center. All their needs from T.B. medications, and vitamins, endless trips to the clinic, baths, clothing and food are taken care of. At night they go back home to sleep returning in the morning for breakfast and to be loved and cared for by the staff of Beautiful Gate. Riaan graduated from the Beautiful Gate Day Care Center last year to attend first grade at Community Hope School, the school John and I initiated to keep these kids in a healthy program. Education in this part of town is sub-standard and we wanted to offer them a future and a HOPE.

 

The Damara tribal community where we are located was chosen because it is one of the poorest areas in the city. This little shanty town is built on a rubble of dusty, windy little streets where houses are built of whatever can be found, begged borrowed or stolen. People walk everywhere with the exception of taxis and a few cars. Riaan lives in a tiny dirt floored shack about the size of a small storage shed along with all his brothers and sisters. Most of the older kids live in boarding schools during the school year, while the ten adults live in a larger house on the same plot. I parked in front of the place which was camouflaged by a hideous rusty wire fence that someone had painstakingly bent together to give a semblance of privacy. The fence is one of those land marks that keeps me from getting lost, sticking out like a sore thumb and amongst the confusion of disorder and poverty.

Inside the fence an assemblage of glassy eyed men stared at me, alcohol penetrating oppressive air. One man was in a wheel chair, one leg was missing. My stomach turned, I felt their hopelessness. These are the people we came to serve,  Community Hope School was established to raise up the future leaders of this nation. "Their children will be better off,"  I  remind myself every day, looking straight in the repugnant face of poverty.

No one seemed to know where Riaan was. The neighbors couldn't tell me anything either. Just as I was leaving a teenage boy who should have been in school approached me to say that Riaan had been sent away. My heart sank. Riaan was developmentally delayed, didn't speak or smile three years ago. Today he is changed, reading words, writing sentences and smiling contagiously.

The second day of school, Queen Deline, Riaan's, round-faced sparkling eyed little sister didn't come. Lately she has needed to be held while the other children were playing. I took a friend with me who could speak this lively tongue clicking language known as Damara-Nama.  At the house we learned that Queen's mom, Shirley, a young women in her early twenties who has a baby every year since she was a teenager decided to move out and get rid of the kids. They told us that the kids were being taken to a farm hostel (boarding school), an institution where very often poor kids are herded together like animals, fed a small meal of corn meal "pop" and are pretty much left to care for themselves. Recently the newspaper reported that some hostels had their water supply cut off due to lack of payment. My head throbbed with a picture of Riaan and Queen living like this.

With determination and a very heavy heart I set out to bring them back. After what seemed like hours we found a place with a large play ground where what seemed like a hundreds kids were playing. Along the side entrance was a shade net where several young girls sat holding small children. Queen was on one of the girls laps. We were directed to the waiting room. In the office a rather large women sat eating her lunch. Not looking up she took my card and asked what I wanted. Without bothering to get the whole story she released the kids to me, remarking that Riaan had run away. By this time, Queen was in hysterics not knowing where she belonged. Word gets around this community fast. Riaan was back at the house waiting for us to come and fetch him. The small children's clothes were in a filthy heap outside of the house waiting for them to leave. I brought the children home to our Youth With A Mission farm campus where they are now living. Some of our volunteers are caring for them. Possibilities are pending to give good homes to the five little ones.

Pray for a big miracle, adoption is a foreign concept here and legal issues could hold up the process indefinitely. Riaan, Queen, Memory, Ishmael and Smithley need a real mommy and daddy to love them and keep them safe, they have never had that.

Summer skies in the southern hemisphere have brought rain showers filling the dams of this thirsty land. Long forgotten dry riverbeds are flowing while people stand in the rain drinking in its refreshment. My garden is thriving and the cows are growing fat and sleek from the Earth's delicacies. We are thankful to our Father who has heard the cries of the needy.

Yours in His service,
Suzanne Hunter

Teachers for Africa


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John Hunter
Director
Teachers for Africa.


Teachers for Africa is a program on the training campus of YWAM Namibia.
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YWAM Tyler
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YWAM NAmibia
P.O. Box 8618
Windhoek, Namibia