I think ever since a certain someone knew that I was going back to Mayana that one was putting together a little list for things for me to follow up on during those four days in Mayana. It turned out that actually the timing for my visit could not have been more perfect.
Joseph had just visited Germany for three weeks to also take part in the Leipzig to Berlin Harambee Challenge so we got the same flight back to Namibia.
Also since the Harambee Challange had been completed there had been some issues with a few of the Meho team members. All in a sudden they started to fear that their cry for change was actually heard by the politicians and actions might be taken for Mayana. During a MCP board meeting we discussed how those concerns could be resolved and worked out a strategy on handling them. So I was asked to hold two meetings while I was there – one with those having concerns and another feedback meeting for the community. The board members visiting Mayana in a few months after myself would follow up on the meetings.
I visited the kindergarten and center on my second day in Mayana. It looked very different compared to a year ago. The sun, wind and rain had damaged the colorful paintings on the walls but part of them were also covered up anyways by the new classroom that had been attached to the original one. The number of kids going to the kindergarten had almost doubled during the last year and there were two teachers now. This means that the community is now understanding the point of sending their kids there which is a huge step forward and demonstrating the success of MCP’s involvement. The approx. 55 kids can now be divided into age groups and a third teacher can be hired.
Also next to the kindergarten there were a few new traditional stalls that will be used for the new Meho Market. The community’s open marked or better to say the dead market is not being used since it doesn’t offer any shade against the strong burning Namibian sun for vendors. So the idea is that all the local women can gather under the stalls and sell their produce like fried fish, marinaded mopane worms, fat cakes or bread. Also MCP will arrange for a mill which can be used for grinding the mahango for a small fee. Since many people are also donating clothes to MCP a female team member will sell those at the market to the community for N$10 (70 Euro cents) a piece to create an income for herself as well as the center. I am very excited to hear how the market will develop once officially opened. I have high hopes for it and hopefully it will also be a chance for the girls and women of the community to engage more with MCP and the center.
I was also very happy that I visited the center right on the day a games tournament took place which I enjoyed so much last year. I was very happy to see that the responsible team members had kept the lists for keeping score and were still playing a few of the games I taught them.
But of course there was also a downside to all those great changes. Of course I had to check the team’s cupboard and the folders. I was happy to see some signs telling the team to put stuff back to where they took it and to keep the folders straight and in order.
Unfortunately this also meant that some apparently cared more than others. When flipping through the folders I noticed right away that many weren’t filing their reports anymore and hadn’t done the inventories in the last 9 months. I spoke to the present program leaders and didn’t get more than blank stares or those special smiles. When questioning them about how their programs went every reply started with “awww, Christine, it’s a challenge”. The biggest disappointment was the garden though. There was plenty of fruit and veggies rotting away. I still don’t get why someone who is given all the nessesary equipment as well as a chance to produce fruits and veggies for himself and on top is unemployed is not able to take care of a garden of the size of 5 by 10 meters. Also he was robbing the kids of a chance to get a more stable diet with more vitamins.
My brief check up pretty much brought me down since all we had accomplished just seemed to have gone down the drain and made me think that the foot print I left was just one in the sand after all. In my opinion the team needs constant supervision and someone to motivate them nonstop. So I hope soon we can find another interim advisor to support the team. If anyone’s interested, let me know!
Then we started the meeting with those voicing their concerns about the outcome of the Harambee Challenge. Of course we started 30 minutes late, the attendance was poor and bystanders appeared one after another, but I was happy to realize though that this didn’t bother me at all. Still run on African time I guess 😉
But that meeting was tough and draining. In about two and a half hours I listened to a lot of bullshit, had to explain what development aid is, what the responsibilities of an ambassador are, how the German tax system works and what the difference between history and stories is. I ended the meeting with what we had agreed on during the MCP board meeting. We will see what the outcome will be once the chair of the MCP board is in Mayana.
The feedback meeting with the community took place the following day and went very well on the other hand.
They were super excited to hear about Joseph’s experiences in Germany and questioned us especially about if there were blacks in Germany, how they ended up there and how they manage in the cold weather. But they also looked very carefully at the pictures from the Namibian embassy in Berlin which we handed out and were happy to recognize the picture of their president on the wall in the assembly hall where we had met the ambassador. Also they watched the short video of Joseph presenting the causes of the petition which I had filmed. It didn’t really matter that the sound and the visibility outside were poor. It almost looked like they were just enjoying to stare at a screen for a change.
The meeting of course was ended with a prayer and by people thanking God for Joseph’s safe return, since there had been many rumors about him being arrested because of the Harambee Challenge. I was very touched that one of the older community members sang a thank you song for me being back and blessing me for supporting the community.
Also some of the questionable Meho team members were present but they hardly looked at me and avoided me. They also made excuses when I offered to go over their program plans. But that was fine with me. I came up with other fun activities to do, like paying Angola an illegal visit 😉
Although being back was not all fun and games, it was great to see how the project had moved forward and what had been accomplished just within a year. What maybe doesn’t seem like much to us Westerns is huge for the community. But there is still so much more to do, good thing I didn’t just catch the Africa bug but the Mayana bug as well!