Bonding in Namibia
Contributed by Maddie Norgaard, College of Saint Benedict
I am happy to report that we made it safely from the States all the way to our home camp of Wereldsend, located in the Palmwag concession. Our long drive from Windhoek to Wereldsend was filled with bumpy roads, twists and turns, and ups and downs. The roller coaster-like drive led us through the red rocky landscape of northwest Namibia. We spotted baboons, giraffe, and warthogs from the road. Our first night in Wereldsend was a night to remember. After our meal of stew and pap, we gazed into the wonders of the southern hemisphere’s night sky and created constellations of our own; from hearts, to elephants and line segments. The first week was spent recovering from rounds of the flu, practicing game counts, identifying animals and their track and signs, reading and discussing the history of conservation in Namibia, and learning the ropes of camp. I couldn’t have imagined a more supportive, positive, and often comical group of individuals to experience Namibia with. I am incredibly excited to learn from my group, this land, and its people.
Today we had the opportunity to attend the party for the 15th Anniversary of the Torra Conservancy, the oldest conservancy in Namibia. A conservancy is essentially a large piece of land that landowners have mutually agreed to dedicate to conserving the wildlife and forming partnerships with ecotourism enterprises. As we arrived and explored the community where the party was held, the six of us were instantly greeted with handshakes and kisses by a group of young girls. As we held hands, they showed us their school, a few houses, and the places they play. Shortly into our walk, we were greeted and led by a whole parade of children. We spent some time teaching them games from summer camps, such as wa, frogger, and an animal game, while Wyatt was playing soccer with the boys. The children we met were filled with so much love and happiness.
The official party was held in a large tent and began with a small concert by the school choir. The choir was a mix of boys and girls around 18. They were all very unique and talented individuals. I was amazed by the beauty of their harmonic voices and the passion they expressed through the national anthem. As children climbed upon our laps, we listened intently to speakers of the conservancy board. After learning about conservation in Namibia for only a short week, it was an incredible learning opportunity to experience a celebration and the passion of the community working together for a common goal. And, it was exciting to see the people that we may impact through our own conservation work in Namibia. Torra, and the people of Namibia as a whole, are truly world leaders in conservation. Experiencing the people of Torra was eye opening and never had I met such welcoming, affectionate, and dedicated people. I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this community, culture, and mission of conservation.
I anticipate this semester to be similar to the road that led us here. Full of bumps, twists, turns, ups and downs, but all experiences where we will surely learn and grow.