Last day at the clinic
Trip Start Jun 15, 2013
33Trip End Jul 17, 2013
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Where I stayed
What I did
With all of this being said, it was quite easy to differentiate between the Herero and the San at the school Dr. Tim took Zoe, Sabine (I have been spelling her name wrong in the previous entries… my apologies), and me to visit. In the morning we left for Pos 8 (which is past Pos 9, which is past Pos 10… in all seriousness… don’t ask me where Pos 10 is). We had been invited to watch a traditional day that the school children were putting on. This was thought to include traditional dance and traditional food.
Pos 8 was not our first stop though. We visited one of the Pos villages on the way (Pos 9 maybe?) and found it seemingly completely deserted. There was a dog, a very skinny one as always, but that was about all. It was quite interesting, especially since I believe Dr. Tim had informed at least one woman that we would be coming by. Finally, we saw a woman walking across the “street” and towards us.
I later learned that she was coming from the shabean. The shabean is essentially a bar that the Herero run. Because the San have no money, or very little of it, they are always hungry, and most of the time malnourished. Alcohol, conveniently enough, stops the hunger, which the Herero make sure the San are aware. Shabeans offer alcohol at extremely low prices… A few Namibian dollars for a drink. So, often, the San go to the Shabean and drink all day and curb their hunger pains. This then is a vicious cycle as they give all of their money to the Herero, who then employ the San for $10-$20 per day to wash the Herero’s clothing items, which gives the San money to go to the Shabean again instead of saving the money to buy food for their children or a blanket or clothing, etc. I’ve learned from Dr. Tim that the San live in the now and aren’t overly concerned, or concerned at all for that matter, about tomorrow, which helps explain a bit of their behavior.
Anyway, back to the woman. Dr. Tim greeted her by name (I’ve forgotten it since). He asked how much Herero pay for daily clothes washing, and that is where I go the $10-20, which she responded after she laughed at the question. She asked for a ride to Pos 3, which of course we couldn’t give her, as we were on our way in the opposite direction. Dr. Tim asked if the woman knew what her big problem was, and she responded with something like not having money or needing a ride. He said no, and informed her that it was going to the shabean and spending all of her money. He then compared the price of the alcohol that she gets at the shabean to a $2 egg for her kids to eat. She then began talking about how expensive sweets are. Dr. Tim said not to feed the kids sweets… eggs were good and as much as alcohol at the shabean. She said the kids refused to eat anything but sweets… And you can see where this argument went. She definitely didn’t want to hear what Dr. Tim had to say about her alcohol consumption. This would be a good time to mention that the woman was drunk while we talked with her, and that it wasn’t even 9:45 in the morning. Also, her son was smiling and swinging on the tree near us during this whole conversation.
I want to be clear that any situation I explain about the San, despite how it may come across, is not to say that they are bad parents or anything along those lines. I think it is important that their lives are exploited… the world should know what they live with, just as during the Holocaust the concentration camps should have been exploited, same with the way the Native American treatment in the States. No, some of them don’t help themselves, but at the same point would you help yourself if you are conditioned to feel worthless and know that unless some crazy world intervention happens you will always be considered worthless and treated like you’re worthless to everyone that has any power over you? I would probably live in the moment as well.
Dr. Tim explained that before N/a’an Ku Sê Lifeline Clinic, a woman went to volunteer in Pos 8 and got very sick with diarrhea. Some people heard of her status and came to help. Long story short, if I have all of the details correct (which I probably don’t), they ended up building a school with barracks and showers and all sorts of wonderful things. Don’t get me wrong, this still isn’t like the American school system I am used to, but for the conditions that most of these villages face it is quite marvelous.
When we arrived, children greeted us right away. None were San though. I was confused as to how there were so many children that attended school in such a small village. Dr. Tim explained that they come from Pos 9 and 10 as well to join Pos 8 in taking advantage of the facilities. We said hi to the children and continued to look for some of the San kids, which is how “spot the San” came about. A few of them were found, and Dr. Tim asked them to show us around. We saw their barracks, which seemed large and spacious until we found out that two sleep in each twin (if not smaller) bed and then some sleep on the floor. They also showed us their showers, which are also fueled by cold water. We saw the remainder of the school as well. When we were done we stood around and waited for the show to begin. Dr. Tim was told 10:00 start time, but it was evident that was not going to happen by far… I’m really beginning to think that Namibians are on a completely different time system.
While we stood around, the children began to take action on their curiosity. At this time I also noticed that there were very few San children… Maybe 1/20 of the children were San, if that. It was apparent the whole while that everyone was incredibly ecstatic to see us, but I think they were all too shy to do anything about their excitement for a good twenty minutes. Zoe and Sabine also have decent-length hair, but they both had theirs up. My hair happened to be down, as I was letting it dry from my shower before braiding it. I began to feel little fingers touching it, as well as quick hands rubbing down my arms as children rushed by. Then, of course, they spotted my shoulder tattoos, and they had to move my hair away from my shoulders, giving them another reason to play with my hair. Soon I had a child’s hand in each of mine, and eventually two on one hand and one on the other. They all wanted my attention (I say MY, but what I really mean is all of us that were there as guests) to the extent that the ones that had already claimed me would shoo the others off when they tried to grab my hand.
When the show was finished, we said goodbye to everyone and received and gave tons of hugs, as well as took a few last minute (demanded) pictures. We headed to back to the house for lunch. Dr. Tim managed to find some petrol. It’s quite funny how difficult such a task that we take for granted back home happens to be here. The finding of petrol meant that we could take another journey in the opposite direction to a village called Skoonheid.
Dr. Tim told us that Skoonheid is a bit different than other villages that we have seen. Apparently it is a resettlement, and there are actually real structures for the people’s homes. Again, don’t confuse this with any sort of similar living standards to what we are accustomed to (and by we I mean anyone who can even comprehend having internet access and the ability to read this blog). The primary purpose of our trip was to give deppo shots to the woman, because a lot of them were thought to be due or past due. We would also hand out condoms. It seems funny, but condoms are quite the find. Yesterday we put out a box in the clinic and by the end of the day there was only ¼ of the condoms left (and there weren’t that many patients or even visitors, I promise).
Skoonheid was quite a drive through quite the terrain. By terrain I mean “roads” that are literally sand. All of the roads I had experienced up to that point were a semi decent mixture of sand and rock. Not this, this was pure sand. Kudos to Dr. Tim for getting us in and out of there without getting stuck (we definitely don’t drive a vehicle that is suited for such roads… no 4 wheel drive, no Land Rover, no Jeep, no SUV or truck… you get the point.
When we arrived the place seemed practically deserted. There were chickens running around though and a couple of dogs. It was obvious this wasn’t like any of the Pos villages. There were even horses tied up in a “yard” or fenced in enclosure, however you choose to classify it.
We went back to the house and Dr. Tim dropped us off. He was headed to another Pos (9 maybe? I can’t keep them straight). Sabine and Zoe worked on making some keesh for supper while I worked on blogging, as usual.
Tomorrow we are off to Windhoek. I made the incredibly hard decision to return and follow through with my plans to go to Neuras. I would love to stay here for another full week… but I just don’t think I can. I’m torn between what I should do for my future and what I should do for my heart and emotions… It’s not a good combination. I really feel that my soul would be much more satisfied if I spent more time giving affection to these people and helping at the clinic, but I know that stating that I was at a research facility for a week will be more beneficial for my future.
This also brings up another dilemma… I, yet again, am not certain what I want to do with my life. It’s frustrating. Every time I manage to participate in and take advantage of an opportunity that should give me clarity and direction, I end up more confused and back to square one. If I wasn’t so squeamish, I am completely convinced that being a medical professional and traveling to underprivileged areas would be the best career plan (aside from no income, but who needs income when you are making a real difference?). But I am squeamish, so that won’t do. And I only know math, so that really won’t do. Half of my undergraduate career is finished and I can’t even make up my darn mind and find any form of direction.
So, I’ll go to bed tonight convinced that I will just be a professional student, and then I will never have to choose a career and direction for my life.