Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Caprivi Tiddlybits

So I thought I’d let you know a little bit about the physical aspect of my new world over here. Namibia is one of the most scarcely populated countries in Africa with a population of only 2 million. The Caprivi Region is the small northeastern “panhandle” and, depending on the map you use, it is often even left off :-( It is a rather diverse little panhandle though as it borders Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Botswana. The population of the Caprivi is about 80,000 and most live in traditional villages. Agriculture is the main livelihood in these parts and the main crops include Mahangu (millet), sorghum, and maize. The literacy rate is 78% (for those over 15). Life expectancy is 41 and 43 for males and females respectively. Though small, the AIDS/HIV pandemic runs very rampid and, as a result, the Caprivi is one of the most densely populated areas of orphans in the world. The Caprivi is the second highest HIV-stricken region in the world next to Botswana and there are roughly 12,000 orphans here in the Caprivi alone.
Katima, formerly (thank goodness) known as Schukmannsburg, is the main town in the Caprivi and is located on the eastern edge bordering Zambia. The mighty Zambezi, the forth longest river in Africa, runs 2700 km from northwest Zambia, along the border between Namibia and Zambia, right along the gates of our compound here at COZV, and then on to the vast Indian Ocean. COZV is located about 10 kilometres outside of Katima, 4 km being a dirt road back towards the riverside. Katima is a “fully functional” town that includes banks, countless china shops, a hospital, a post office, a few restaurants, 2 (going on 3) gas stations, 2 main grocery stores, a “Sam’s Club” warehouse (probably kept in business by the grocery shopping needed for 60 kids here), a craft market, many little convenient stores, and even a little airport. However, it is 1250 km from Windhoek, the capital of Namibia.
The climate here of rainy and dry seasons results in the river rising half the year and then receding the rest. It will rain about 21- 27 inches per year in this semi-arid tropical savannah with its peak wet months being January and February. During the winter (June-Sept) it will get rather cold at night, around 35-40 degrees Fahrenheit, but will become very nice through the day peaking at around 70 degrees and always (knock on wood) sunny and dry. Fall (Sept-Nov) has the hottest months and temperatures will reach the upper 90's or above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, though not as humid as back home. The summer (Dec-March) is the rainy season peaking, as I said before, in January and February.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


I’ve been told there are rumors back home and, yes, it’s true…Sam chopped off all his hair…well almost. And here is the proof to anyone who may not believe it. Much to the kids dismay, he did not get the potato head do, but it is much shorter than it has been in more than 3 years. We were originally going to get cornrows together and then he was going to shave it, but apparently that first step was skipped…and the shave part was modified to slightly longer than bald. Elton, Jessica’s husband, did the honors as the resident hair dresser here and did a fine job. He usually only does “black” hair, but is skilled enough to do mukua (white) hair as well :-)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Bulls & Boys at 4am

Traditionally Friday night is pizza night in the Mink household. But lately we have been having a couple of staff over as well for this all-American meal. Jenny and Simushi, a married couple that both work here, were our honored guests for the evening. Around the dinner table, we shared our “most exciting moment,” the table topic for the evening. Jenny, originally from Umtata village in South Africa, shared about the night before her wedding. In that area it is customary for the future groom to undergo a customary obstacle course at 4 am the night before they are scheduled to be wed. In this custom, the woman is to be in her house waiting patiently while many of her male relatives gather together outside the house with a bull and a spear. When the man arrives, he is given the spear and must spear the bull. When he is finished, the male relatives line up and form a barricade into the house that the man must break through to get to his wife. If he succeeds, the wedding occurs later that day, but if not, the wedding must be moved until he does succeed.

Before this occurred, Simushi told us about how he was so worried he wouldn’t get through, so Jenny came up with a bright idea. She jokingly told him to put on a dress so that her male relatives will just think it is a girl and he will get right through easily. Well, later, while she was anxiously waiting for him to arrive, one of her girlfriends informed her he had finally arrived…only that he was seen off in the distance putting on a skirt! So whether it was the skirt or some fancy moves that got him past that night, who knows, but they have been happily married for 7 years now.

So the picture above is of course not Jenny and Simushi, but rather just a fitting picture to the topic of weddings. While my brother and I were handing out clothes, one of the boys stumbled upon a dress and tried it on…yadda yadda…eventually one of the girls put on the dress and he came up with a “tux” and they had a mock 2 minute wedding outside with my brother as the officiator.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Keep the Kin Comin'

My mom and sister are on their way! They should arrive today to be welcomed by mounds and mounds of sewing…after some huge hugs and welcomes of course!! My mom plans to spend much of her time here teaching some of the older girls and boys how to sew clothes. They are all very excited and have already picked out their patterns and fabric designs. They have been asking constantly when they will arrive. She will also work with a couple on crocheting and knitting (or maybe just one or the other…I don’t really know the difference, haha). She may also help to teach some supplementary nutrition lessons in the school.

In addition to helping my mom, my sister will be expertly tackling the loads of mending…pretty much a whole year’s worth of 60 kids’ torn clothes. Tough job if you ask me, but if anyone can do it, she can.
Meanwhile, Sam has been here for nearly a month now and I have greatly enjoyed serving next to him, hanging out with the kids together, having a few slumber parties, more than a few good laughs, and having some good quality time together. I feel very blessed that God as called so many of my family to serve Him in one place halfway across the world!!


Literally. The kids have been poppin’ out lately. Two of the three female goats that we got in South Africa gave birth this past weekend. Curly had one and Solo had two. Half-pint is still expecting any day now.

Pictured to the left is Curly and baby angel.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

South of the Border

Which border? Well, all the way through the flat lands of Namibia, past the Tropic of Capricorn, across the Namibian border and on into the twisty switchbacks and vineyards of the mountains of South Africa, then over a few rivers and through a few woods…we finally made it to the southern end of my African world as I know it. In short I haven’t blogged in a while because Rebecca, Jessica, and I have been in Cape Town for the past two weeks. The two main purposes were for Rebecca to have surgery and to get goats for our herd since so many of them died during the flood. There are plenty of goats here in the local area, but we use our goats mainly to produce milk for the kids and there are not very good milking goats in these parts. We were also picking up some extra goats for friends who run the Cheetah Foundation of Namibia ( They have a goat farm to help train herders how goat herds and wild animals can safely interact. Jessica and I thought long and hard about the names for the four we brought all the way back to COZV. The Billy goat was the stinkiest and hairiest thing we’d ever seen so he became Stinky Pete. The 3 females were then named Curly, Solo, and Half-pint respectively for their curly horns, extremely low udder, and abnormally disproportioned udder. Because these goats were from South Africa, they looked very different from goats Namibians were used to seeing and so we got surrounded with ooo’s, ahh’s, and questions at every gas station along the way.
It was a long 6,000 km round trip journey, all with a trailor and goats. It was 3 days down and 3 days back but of course not without some perpetual car trouble, rolling into one gas station on only a liter of gas (although we shouldn’t have even made it there), and some “minor” delays in driving in which we didn’t get to our one destination until 4:30 in the morning.
Normally Cape Town is a lovely place for tourists like ourselves, but as our luck would have it, it rained most of the week, had storms with gale force winds, and even had threats of snow. I am quite disappointed that I did not actually see any snow in Africa, but could have sworn I did see some flurries one afternoon. But the weather did finally clear up for the last 2 days we were there. One day we drove down to Cape Point and stopped in Boulder along the way to see all the Penguins and the other day we went up Table Mountain.

Some things I learned on our adventures?
-African Penguins are very tiny and when they want to lay down they just kind of fall forward face first. You must also be sure to check under your car for penguins before you leave.
-New York is exactly 12, 541 km from the lighthouse at Cape Point.
-When you have a new leg and are walking long distances fast (to try and race friends on the tram car up the mountain), it has the tendency to blow up like a balloon and you are forced to take unfair stops to deflate along the way.
-When you set off hiking on the top of Table Mountain you should probably plan out which trails you are going to take. Otherwise you may end up on a 3-hour hike forging a couple new trails where the rains have flooded the old ones out.
-The statue marking Maclear’s Point, the highest point of Table Mountain, looks very much like a humongous Hershey kiss.

P.S.-Happy 4th of July! :-)