Where are we working?
Our current projects are located in Aussenkehr, Namibia, smack dab in the middle of the hot, dry Namib Desert. The region is known for table grape farming, which provides the only employment in the area. Some families make their permenant residence in Aussenkehr, while others migrate from northern countries to work on the farms each harvest cycle. Seasonal workers spend approximately 5 months of the year in Aussenkehr, and earn their entire year's wages in that time. After the harvest, families who don't have permanent work return north to their homes, where they often manage their own small sheep or maize farms.
Living conditions in Aussenkehr are harsh, as temperatures can reach 50 °C (120 °F) and the region sees very little rain. Families live in small reed huts, sometimes supplemented with corrugated tin and rocks to hold down the roof. Electricity and running water are sparse, although local farmers have undertaken initiatives to further develop infrastructure and available utilities.
Playground + soccer field for 800 Namibian students
In July of 2018, SAEF completed the construction of a 2,000 sq ft playground for Aussenkehr Primary School, the first of it's kind in the region. Most of the 800 students, ages 7-13, had never seen a playground before. In addition to slides, swings, and climbing equipment, the open space surrounding the playground, including a large soccer field and netball court, provides novel space for exercise and play. Comparatively, the original school yard had no open space to run and play, and the village these students call home has no available recreational space or parks for youth. We can confidently say that the students love their new playground and already treasure the creativity, freedom, and camaraderie they can express while playing in their new school yard.
This initiative served two purposes. First, a safe recreational space specifically for youth will keep children off the streets, where they are in danger of fast moving vehicles, drugs, and even exposure to violence at home. The soccer field gives many of the older students an alternative to visiting the local "shebeens", or bars. Second, the jungle gym and sports fields offer a location for physical education classes and extracurricular sports. Through active play, students will benefit from development of motor skills, social skills, and emotional development.
AUSSENKEHR PRIMARY SCHOOL
800 children ages 7-13 attend Aussenkehr Primary School, however the school facilities can only accommodate half of the students at one time. Junior Primary children attend in the morning, and Senior Primary children attend in the afternoon. Over half the students are on the "orphans and vulnerable children" list, meaning their families cannot afford their school necessities. Older students are forced into small chairs and desks barely suited for a 7 year old student. Lack of teacher housing causes a high turnover rate among qualified instructors, as working and living conditions are brutal, with classroom temperatures rising above 50 °C (120 °F). Lack of electricity means there is no escape from the heat. The school's open spaced was filled with an additional classroom in 2015, so there is no playground or open space for children to play. Without accommodating school facilities or after-school programs, children wander the streets when they aren't in class.
- New playground, soccer field, and netball court for Aussenkehr students
- Provision of school kits for children whose families cannot afford backpacks, uniforms, shoes, and school supplies
- Increase number of available classrooms
- Increase available teacher housing
As of January 2018, SAEF has outfitted 60 children with school kits through our Birthday Pledge campaign. These school kits include a backpack, school uniform with pants or skirt, shirt, jersey, shoes and socks, and school supplies.
AUSSENKEHR CHILD CARE CENTER
Aussenkehr Child Care Center provides street children with a home, a stable and supportive living situation, schooling, and meals they don't have to dig out of rubbish piles. Many of these kids have families who aren't able to care for them because of financial restraints. Others have parents who work seasonally on the local farms and seek work elsewhere during the off-season, leaving their children behind for 7 months of the year. Still others do not have living family at all, and will call Aussenkehr Child Care Center their home until they turn 18. Rakkel and Cleofus are the Mother and Father of the center, caring for the children's every day needs by providing food, reading stories, and loving the kids as their own. The children range from ages 6 to 18, after which they will move on to further schooling or jobs as available. Donations to Aussenkehr Child Center help cover school fees, food and clothing, and utilities.
HAPPY FEET KINDERGARTEN
Happy Feet hosts 30 children in the off season and 130 children during grape pruning and harvest season, all ages 0-5. During the busy season, children remain at school from 6am to 10pm while their parents work. They eat all their meals at school, and are prepared to advance to primary school at age 6. A day in the life of a Happy Feet Kindergartner includes lessons in multiple languages, flashcard practice with numbers, letters, and shapes, ball games, and LOTS of singing and dancing.
In 2017, SAEF completed the Happy Feet Kindergarten renovation project, in collaboration with Grape Alliance Management, whose employees' children attend the school. SAEF contributed project management logistics and curriculum upgrades, while Grape Alliance Management paid for the building costs. Walls, windows, and doors, and fresh paint were added to the original 3 foot high brick wall. Larger desks and benches, educational posters, coat racks, chalkboards, and signs were added to the classrooms. The outdoor play area was paved and fenced in with reeds, to prevent dust storms and loose trash from interrupting class and play time, while the removal of wooden beams opened additional recreational space. Congratulations to the 160 kindergartners of Happy Feet who now have a new school from which to launch their education!