Social Work Study Tour to Namibia

The University of Minnesota School of Social Work is studying in Namibia during May 2010.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

What a first day!

We are relaxing from having a jam-packed first day on our trip. I'll only briefly summarize what we did today to give you all a flavor. After our lovely Puccini House continental breakfast, we met our bus driver and got on our 24 seat bus which will be taking us all around Namibia. Our first stop was to the Northern Industrial District of Windhoek where we visited the Women's Action for Development. Veronica De Klerk, the Executive Director, and two of her senior staff, spent two hours with us giving us an overview of their work with WAD. WAD is a non-political NGO that focuses on empowering women and men. Their projects include income generating projects, advocacy training, skills training, violence prevention along with many others. We were all very impressed with how smart, savvy and dynamic Mrs. De Klerk was, and her strong emphasis on sustainable, grassroots community development. As we told Mrs. De Klerk when we left, that we may very well have had the highlight of our trip with our very first visit. We all left quite inspired.

Outside WAD with Veronica De Klerk

Inside the WAD board room

Next, we visited the Head Office of the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare. We met with the Director of the Child Welfare Services, Ms. Andjamba, and several of the program managers, and they gave us a fairly thorough overview of the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare. We learned a lot about the issues facing orphans and vulnerable children (OVCs), and the services provided by the Ministry.

Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare

We had already had a big day by this point, so we then went to the Namibian Craft Centre for a relaxing lunch in the courtyard. We ate at two different places in the same courtyard. I'm sure many of us will be back here when we have some free time to browse through the crafts.

Craft Centre Courtyard

Paul's Cafe in the Craft Centre (run by people with disabilities)

Next, we went to visit one of the services of the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare - the Women and Child Protection Unit - at the Katutura Hospital. We had our first traffic accident on the way (no worries - only hit a post and slightly dented the bus). This is the main office where women go for help with abuse.

Katutura Hospital

We next went to the Ministry of Health and Social Services. Namibia has several different Ministries that provides social services, so it can be a little confusing sometimes. We arrived a little bit late, and were surprised to see a full boardroom waiting patiently for us. The Deputy Director and 8 program managers were all waiting for us, and they each gave a PowerPoint presentation to us about the various activities each subdivision of the Ministry did. The social services part of the MoHSS cover social development services and rehabilitation (services for people with disabilities). This meeting ended with a quite elaborate spread for our tea break.

Inside at the MoHSS -

While it might not have been smart to schedule four substantial meetings for our first day in Namibia while we are still recovering from jetlag, I think we all learned so much from our visits today. We are truly lucky that Ndii Kalomo is with us, who helped arrange all of these meetings for us with some of the key figures in social work in the country. Most of us went for a nice, relaxing dinner in the mostly deserted downtown Windhoek in the evening, and are looking forward to having a few hours off in morning tomorrow before we begin our tours again.

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