After 11 weeks in Namibia and 10 weeks at Amitofo Care Centre of Namibia I am sitting in my home in Wuppertal, Germany.
11 weeks Namibia: I started my journey with the ambition to support Amitofo but as well looking for new experiences.
10 weeks Amitofo: Every day living, working, eating with colleagues and children. Always surrounded by people. The next human being was never far away. But for me, the next human being was always coming from a different culture: either from one of the different Namibian tribes or from Asia: Taiwan, Hongkong, Mainland China, Malaysia … Only shortly before I left Germany I figured out what it means to go to Namibia for a Taiwanese Organisation: most probably the absence of my own culture. When I realised that I was a little worried.
But the way I was received was great. The friendliness and care from colleagues, overseas as well as locals, and children quickly took away fears. This enabled me to find my way into the organisation without being homesick or anxious. Of course the next days and weeks were not always easy: language barriers, peculiarities – as well cultural as individual – offered various opportunities of misunderstandings. But there also was openness to listen to proposals, willingness to try new ways, if they offered the possibility to improve the situation, and a complete lack of vanity, which made it so easy to discuss and enter into communication.
There have been disagreements and I guess that this is normal. It is even normal if people from the same city work together. So we should accept it as normal in case of people coming from different continents and talking different languages (in all meanings). It is just important to talk about these misunderstandings. They should not get the chance to become bigger as they are. Also here the adults serve as role model for the kids: In showing how to find ways of problem solving in a respectful and tolerant manner including being able to question the own standpoint.
It is a challenge for all colleagues at Amitofo to create a safe environment for the children:
The overseas staff, who left their homes, their families and the ways of life they were used to for working in Namibia for 6 or 7 days a week and many hours a day. When I asked them for the reason, they answered “to do something good“, “to help the children“, “to support the Master”. And that is what they do: They make it happen. As well as the local staff, which is working as hard, e.g. in the burning heat outside, carefully wrapped in thick clothes at 40°C so that the sun will not burn them, or in the heat of the kitchen, or together with the children as nanny or teacher. Everybody has a place in the organisation and is needed to realize this safe haven for children.
The realisation of this vision is so absolutely necessary because these children, as young as they might be, already have a hard history: coming from a difficult environment, experiencing abuse, utter poverty and/or neglect. Seeing those children at Amitofo, entering the Dining Hall, playing in the multifunctional hall, hugging their nannies (or every other adult around), laughing and playing (and learning) simply makes you feel happy.
To see every day what you are working for and for whom, gives incredible satisfaction. But of course there are also other moments. The moments, when decisions need to be taken, decisions that make you feel sad: for example if children cannot be accepted or if applicants for a job cannot be employed. Decisions have to be taken: For the children with the highest need and for the adults with the best capabilities. This kind of decision hurts sometimes but it is necessary. Clear decisions are needed to stay focussed. Otherwise the organisation will not be able to realize its task to create and enable a future for vulnerable children.
Every day the colleagues of Amitofo Care Centre of Namibia fulfil this difficult balancing act of doing things right on so many different levels. I am sure that it is the same in the Centres in Lesotho, Malawi and Swasiland. I highly appreciate what all of you are doing.
I am proud and grateful that I had the opportunity to be part of this for a short time!