Here is the refurbished farm house of the original owner of the land now called Five Rand Informal Settlement ( or squatter's camp) Today the house is used as a community meeting place and as a place for vulnerable children to be fed once a day.

Here is the youth/community center we built  in the middle of the camp. We are so grateful to all the donors that made this possible!
There is a large meeting room, small kitchen, library/computer room, jewelry making room, and pottery studio. 

Pottery Studio
We have to keep the kiln "in jail" so no children get hurt.

Lucia painting Okawa beads

 giving a beading class in the main hall

 A favorite of the kids: Our wadding pool. One child even said he was lucky to live in Five Rand Camp because: "We have a pool !!"

Believe me when it's in the upper 90's I wish I was one of the kids !

We call it "THE BEAD ROOM" Here we put together kits, so the ladies can work at home, or they can  also work here. They like to come and use the bead spinners, as it makes the job of stringing  go much faster.

Outside the center it's not so pretty. Behind one corner is a dump.

But this is what drives us crazy ! A "million" extension cords (leads for you Brits) run past our center to homes beyond. In front of our building is the last power pole, and so residents buy power from neighbors in front of us, and our power is not always enough to run our kiln, and there are nightly power outages at dinner time.


The community of Five Rand got it's name when the farmer who owned the land charged people five rand ( U.S. 50 cents) a month to live there and use his water. (At the time Namibia was part of South Africa)

The land now belongs to the city of Okahandja, and plots can be purchased for $700 to $900 U.S. dollars. Most people however never achieve ownership and just set up their tin home on whatever plot is available.

There are a handful of cement block houses in the camp. I was curious why this one was empty, and was told that it is haunted by a dead child crying in the walls.
Five Rand is not just a place where people have their homes, but there are also many business, churches, a few preschools, and one primary school .

Here is a very nice preschool ( here we say kindergarden) and it doubles as a church on Sunday. I think they used pallets for the wood part.

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Here's another church

Here's hubby at the take out.

The most frequent business in the camp unfortunately, is that of having a bar as part of your home (called a shebeen)

The reason this is such a problem, is that many, many of the camps residents drink away their small pay checks within the first few days of getting them, and their children go hungry.They sometimes even give children alcohol because it makes them stop crying.  

 There are often bar fights, and I especially pity the children who have this going on right in their home.

  Each bar tries to get customers by playing  louder and louder music and so it's a constant "battle of the bands" especially in the evenings when kids are needing to do homework.
One reason we built the community/youth center is so kids will have a safe place to be, and where they can participate in sports, games, and learning as an alternative to following in their parents foot steps of drinking as the only form of entertainment.


 A lot of people ask me what it's like living in Namibia. So I thought I would take you on a little tour of town. Driving from the South, you are almost to town when you cross the Okahandja river.
  River you say ? Well sometimes in the once a year rainy season the river flows.

But it is dry as a bone right now .

Main street such as it is......

Although we have normal style grocery stores there are also lots of street markets around town.

There are a lot of individuals selling things around town too. Anything from cheap Chinese imports to baloney by the slice. Here is a boy selling cellphone credit at USA$ .50 to 1.00 a pop.

And speaking of Chinese imports, every town has it's China store !

One of the banks in town. Notice the line at the A.T.M. It was twice as long last week
end because  it was month end and everyone gets paid only once a month.

Our only tourist attraction is the wood carvers market.

Once a year in August the Herero tribe has a nice parade.

City Hall, or "The Municipality" as we call it.

Passion Flower. 
Okahandja was known in the old days as The Garden town. These days, not so much.  I can say however that the municipality has at least been trying lately to beautify city property. 

Okahandja is the nearest town for a lot of farms in the area, so we often see live stock in town. Goats, sheep, cows or hides are common. This truck also has some roofing material and bedding.

Here is a nice old colonial building.  We used to call it the haunted house until we found out it was the library.

ere's the house we used to live in, before we sold it last year. Most houses are cement block construction, a lot like Florida houses, but with no central heat or air conditioning.

 Here's another residential street in town. Everyone has some kind of a fence and the gate is considered the real entrance to the home. In other words, to be polite, you wait at the gate to be invited in, you never just walk up to the front door without and invitation.

We usually have very pretty sunsets in Namibia. Some say it's due to all the dust in the air. What ever the reason, we enjoy them.
I hope you have enjoyed the small tour. 

Next blog I will give you a tour of the squatter's camp located about a mile out of town where we have built a community center and where we have our job skills training.

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Please welcome guest blogger, Lon Garber  aka: "hubby"

We are often asked about cultural challenges while living in Africa.  The item that immediately comes to mind is in African culture the group is far more important than any individual in the group. Family, village, and tribal concerns highly influence individual behaviors and decisions. In Southern Africa, this strong sense of community is called Ubuntu.

 Sharing is central to Ubuntu. The person earning an income must help others in the group less fortunate. The concept of "group" includes extended family, friends , and often anyone of the same village or tribe. The person with a house is expected to provide lodging for other group members for as long as the visitor needs it.  Anyone who shows up is free to partake of any meal, explaining many unannounced visitors at lunch time. We once hosted a visitor no one knew. We all thought it was someone else's guest.

When anyone acts outside the perceived interest of the group, the group enforces both formal and informal compliance to bring the violator back in line with group wishes.

Ubuntu embodies a strong respect for authority. Children are taught to respect all adults and to obey them without questioning. Children must leave the room when adults are talking, to give up their seats to older persons, and to offer to carry items for anyone older. It's nice growing old in Africa.
Special respect is given to parents, grandparents, tribal elders, and government officials.

As with all social systems, Ubuntu can be applied both positively and negatively. At it's best, Africans take care of each other without need for government assistance. At it's worst, personal success is discouraged since others will reap most of the benefits of personal initiative.

Learning that a singular act of kindness caused us to be included in the recipient's group was one of our biggest shocks of Ubuntu. From then on, you are expected to help with even greater needs! From a Western perspective, such expectations feel like ingratitude; from an African perspective , it's just life.

You can read more about African culture, and our ups and downs of living in Africa by reading Lon's new book The Leap: living the life you dream about.  It's available online at: