Dear Prospective Namibia Volunteer:
Congratulations on your invitation to join the Peace Corps! We are extending to you an early welcome to Namibia as our future colleague. Peace Corps Volunteers have made contributions to the people and communities of this country while learning about the many cultures within Namibia and helping people here understand Americans. In the process, we all have learned a lot about ourselves.
When Namibia gained its independence in March 1990, one of the first requests made by the government was to the Peace Corps to help in establishing a truly national, all-inclusive educational system. In fact, the request was made on plain paper since the government was so new it did not yet have letterhead stationary! Peace Corps responded that same year with a group of 14 Volunteers to assist with the transition from Afrikaans to English as the means of instruction in Namibian schools.
As Namibia works to extend educational access and quality to all groups, it faces the additional burden of protecting its population against the spread of HIV/AIDS. HIV/AIDS has become the new emergency in southern Africa, threatening not only the lives of Namibia’s citizens, but also the progress achieved since independence in developing Namibia’s human and natural resources. Volunteers in the education sector teach math, science, English, and potentially help with teacher training at a Teachers’ Resource Center (TRC). Health sector Volunteers assist individuals and communities in the prevention of HIV/AIDS and in mitigating its effects. Health volunteers also work with Namibians to improve maternal and child health outcomes, addressing issues related to substance abuse and poverty. Volunteers in the Small Enterprise and Entrepreneurship program seeks to promote small scale economic development through the reinforcement of entrepreneurial and business management skills in Namibian communities. Peace Corps Volunteers are deeply appreciated by the government of Namibia as integral contributors to the health and well-being of the country.
During your eight-week training in Namibia you will begin the two-year process of learning a Namibian language, be introduced to various cultural Issues, and gain technical skills you’ll need for your work. You will then join the Volunteers who are here now and have served before you. You will find you have entered a fascinating and complex country with a long history of colonial conquest and apartheid policies – but one which gained its independence through a long struggle. You will quickly recognize there are many opportunities for you to serve and learn and by doing so – to grow. This Welcome Book and its resources are an early reference for you to begin to understand Namibia and the role that you’ll have during your two years of service here. We look forward to your arrival and to working with you as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Namibia.