Thursday, December 13, 2007

Part Nine: Mweshipandeka

School was amazing and difficult. Girls would heckled me as I tried to teach, asking questions that would make me blush. Two minutes after class was over, they'd be giggling with me, trying to teach me Oshiwambo, exchanging addresses, asking how to avoid temptation. I loved them.

Their faces and stories haunt me nearly every day.

Johanna, who was panicked about passing her Grade 12 exams, who wanted me to pray for her

Olivia, whose fiance beats her. She stays with him, even though she doesn't love him. She says she's never loved him.

Rocxy, whose only goal that week was to teach me Oshiwambo

Frida, who asked for my copy of "Choose to Wait"

Julia, one of the bravest girls I've ever met. She dropped out of school to have her baby, and then came back. She wants to be the future of Namibia. She wants to be a marine biologist. I deeply desire to know how she is, how her daugher is, what God is doing in her life.

I returned to our house angry and exhausted. I don't understand a culture where a young girl is beaten by her boyfriend, and all she knows how to do is laugh. I cannot accept a society where there is an epidemimc of young women dropping out of school because they are carrying their teacher's babies. These men are supposed to protect and educate these young women, but instead, are using one of the few lucrative professions in Namibia in order to exploit them. Yes, these things happen in the United States, but we agree that they are not acceptable. In Namibia, I got the feeling that nobody cared. Nobody wanted to change the system. These girls were expendable; they had no value.

I would tell my stories to my teammates, often in disbelief. I craved someone to tell me that it wasn't right, and to give me a vague idea of what I should say.

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