After an early start on Saturday, I made my way to the Alsace – by train of course. And because I was so excited to meet Monika in person for the first time and trillions of questions were swirling around my head, there was no chance of napping. So I again read through the information I had been given by Elke and Monika on the project and on Namibia. I also categorized all my questions that I had been putting in my phone or on different pieces of papers because I really wanted to make sure not to forget to ask ANYTHING.
Monika picked me up from the train station and we drove to her house where the prep camp for my time in Mayana took place. Besides myself there was also an American family who is going on a family trip with MCP to Mayana for 2 weeks in August attending the prep camp.
It was pretty interesting to meet others who are also in the process of getting ready for their experience in Mayana. We quickly noticed that no matter if you go for 2 or 10 weeks or what the objective of your trip is, there are still the same questions, concerns and arrangements to be made. So our lists of questions complemented each other pretty well.
We started the prep camp off by asking ourselves if we are on the map yet. We shared our more or less informed knowledge about Namibia, the village, the Mayana Community Project and the local team. And of course there was enough time to get all the long desired answers to all those questions we’ve been having.
In order to prepare ourselves for some challenges we will be facing in Mayana and to find out where our comfort zone ends, Monika had prepared for some activities. We went on a little walk to collect the fire wood we would be needing to prepare dinner – yep, there was no lunch break, because people in the village only eat one meal a day and that’s dinner. At least Monika was
kind enough to supply some snacks that one kid in Mayana would eat in a year – if it was lucky, well really lucky. And since we wanted to get the “real” village-experience we also collected the wood Mayana-style. I was only able to balance one small trunk on my head…walking not so much. But thank goodness, there is a donkey cart available at my place. And Monika said that Joseph, who is the project manager at Mayana, and his kids will be happy to assist with water runs, collecting wood and anything else I will be needing help with. I am very glad that besides working in the project, part of the experience will also be getting to know Joseph’s family and sharing daily life with them. They’ll be my next door neighbors!
After our fake traditional dinner – eating Pap with meat sauce directly out of the bowl with our hands (I spare you the pictures) – Monika took me aside to get to the specifics concerning my trip. We talked about my responsibilities and rights during my stay in Mayana, the focus of my duties within the project, tips for where to get a lift to Rundu, where to hang out, what to do on the weekends and where to go to for treating myself to some luxury. By 10 pm I was so overwhelmed with all the information and stories that I fell right into bed.
After breakfast Monika and I took some more time to talk about our expectations of each other and how to rate the success of my time as a interim advisor in Mayana. I was very happy that Monika left it totally up to me which projects to emphasize. So I decided to concentrate on putting up the computer classes together with Gerhard and promoting them, helping Daniel to implement a professional book keeping and reporting system and teaching him new skills in this field and of course Monika handed over the instructions for building the charcoal-fridge and I promised that Joseph and I would build a prototype for her to check out when she will be arriving in Mayana in mid July. And if there is any time left, I would love to make the third film about a day in Gerhard’s life. You can check out the first 2 films on youtube: A Day in the Life of Gerhard and The Life of Gerhard 2
So there are lots of things for me to do and to take care of in Mayana, but regarding “African Time” we agreed that I would “put my eyes on tomorrow and my feet on today”. True to a Kölsch-Saying: “Et kütt wie et kütt!”. Prep camp really helped me to get all those questions out of my
system although I know that the bucket will fill up again. It got me even more excited and I wish I would be leaving tomorrow…I still need the next 2 months though for final preparations…