I've been working on some new designs, and we have some new ladies working now, so Friday was training day.  The ladies are proficient at rolling and painting beads, but sometimes it's good to try something new !

I am also flying back to the U.S.A. early this year for the birth of a new grand baby, so I thought we had better get cracking on Christmas ornaments.

Here is Vicky working on star ornaments

Otillie ( in the foreground) is woking on small flowers. Any B.T.W. ever wonder where those Lyon's club glasses go? We we were happy to receive a bag of them because anyone over 40 needs them !

Wonky star pendants

Lodie is working on the star pendants

Bracelet bars

 I got busy and forgot to get a photo of everyone, but we had a productive and fun day.


Lodie ( pronounced Lloyd-a )is a 40 year old single mother of 4 children. She is the sole bread winner of the family, since all her children are still in school.

Lodie has been with us in the ceramic bead making project since September 2013. When I asked her what she did for income before working with us , she told me she collected Acacia tree pods for selling to farmers , who feed them to their goats. The trees only drop pods during part of the year, so I can not imagine how she actually survived with only collecting pods for income.

Acacia tree in Makhtesh Gadol, Negev Desert, I...
typical Acacia tree

English: Acacia confusa (leaves and seedpods)....
some typical pods ( there are many varieties)

Lodie has a seventh grade education. She said that she lived with her grandmother as a child, and when her grandmother died, there was no one to pay her school fees.

Lodie lives in a tin hut,with no running water, and she cooks over an open fire. She  collects fire wood before work, or her children collect it after school.

I asked her what her biggest worries were, and like most mom's it was about her children. While we might worry about our children's friends or bullies at school, or how they are doing in school;

She worries about providing for their food, clothes and school fees. When I asked her what her immediate needs are, she said that she really needs some blankets, because we are headed toward winter, and her oldest, took blankets when she went to live in the school hostel . This made me feel kind of bad that I had not asked her before now......of course I will go buy her a blanket.  

Our winter weather here in Namibia is a lot like winter in Florida. The days are quite warm and sunny, but nights are often in the  40's to 50's and can sometimes get down to  freezing.  When there is no heat in the house, anything below 60 is darn cold. I know, because no houses here  have central heat. At my house however, we have portable heaters, and a heavy down comforter on the bed.
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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.