Making a Difference in Namibia
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Making a Difference in Namibia

Grand Circle Foundation donates much-needed supplies to a new partner school

One of Grand Circle Foundation's newest school partners is also one of its most challenging, due to limited resources and disrepair.

The Jacob Basson School in Bergsig, Namibia, faces insufficient teacher training to ensure that students achieve successful passing rates on standardized exams, and the school's dormitories, which provide vital accommodations for students who live too far to commute each day, are in great need of renovation. Even safety is an issue here, until a fence can be built to protect the school from roaming wild animals.

Grand Circle Foundation's first gift to the school provided mattresses for the dormitory beds. And in February, the Foundation made additional donations to the school, including maps and calculators for the classroom, a washing machine and other laundry supplies for dormitory, and gardening tools.

Just getting the goods there proved challenging, given the logistics of customs, excise taxes, and traveling conditions. On Saturday, February 18, however, Ian Wallace, Grand Circle's program services and operations manager in Africa, arrived to present the dormitory supplies and gardening equipment.

"I was not expecting the pomp and ceremony that is associated with a visit from Grand Circle Foundation, but nonetheless, I was met by all the community leaders and treated to singing and dancing from the school choir and a church choir," he reports. In all, the festivities and speeches lasted three hours.

"The dormitory master was beside himself with joy when we handed over the ironing boards and irons," says Ian. "He told me that he had taken the iron from his home and given it to one of the matrons because the shortage was so acute at the school."

The school's headmistress, on the other hand, was most excited about the calculators that would be arriving with a group of travelers on OAT's Namibia & the Skeleton Coast: Africa's Last Wilderness adventure. When the group arrived on February 21, the students were delighted to have a chance to show off their math skills.

When the schoolchildren rolled out the maps that Ian had brought earlier, they started a very involved discussion with the travelers about "where in the world they where from and where in the world they had been through their travels," as Ian puts it.

"Some of our clients remarked that it was the first time that they had been on site when a donation was being made, and it renewed their faith in the Foundation," says Ian. "It is one thing to be told that donations have been made. It is another thing to actually be a part of the process."

Featured in our April 2012 E-Newsletter. Read the full issue here.