A visit to the Bernhard Nordkamp Centre in Katutura may rank as one of the highlights of your trip. It is run by MaryBeth Gallagher (tel: 081 228 5717) and her team of volunteers who work with boundless energy and enthusiasm to improve the lives of children who live in the township.
Initially the centre’s aim was to provide after-school activities for deprived youngsters, but these days there are literacy and numeracy classes to help children who are failing at school. MaryBeth says, ‘We now are looking for people who want to teach in the afternoons. You don’t have to be an experienced teacher, but you must love kids and be willing to teach the basics to small groups. We have all the materials; we just need people to help. We also have our computer room, and the sports programme: soccer, basketball, tennis, badminton, ping pong and swimming in the warm months.’ Even if you can only spare an afternoon it is worth contacting MaryBeth to see if you can help – and she is always in need of stuff that’s unavailable in Namibia.
I first learned about the centre from the website www.stuffyourrucksack.com and my group of eight brought footballs, sportsgear, and much-needed felt-tipped pens (‘sharpies’). We spent the afternoon with the children, talking, playing games, taking photos and generally learning about an aspect of Namibia that we would never have seen otherwise. We still talk about it, and follow MaryBeth’s blog with admiration for what she is achieving.