In July this year, 16 pupils from Fourth Year to Upper Sixth and two teachers set off on an epic adventure as they travelled overseas to Namibia for a 17-day journey of discovery.
During the tour, the Namibia 2022 Expedition Team spent six days working in a rural community project to help develop the lives of children at a village kindergarten, three days with AfriCat, learning about the challenges of wildlife conservation in a farming community, and three days exploring the Etosha National Park to view wildlife in the wilderness.
After the long journey to Namibia, the students shopped for building and catering supplies before travelling to The Jesus Omurise Omuwa Kindergarten, located in the Omaruru region of Namibia where they spent six days helping to renovate the school. In the eighteen months prior to the expedition the students set to fundraising through various means, including securing sponsorship and hosting a very successful evening event. A grand total of £5000 was raised, which gave the team the scope to renovate the Kindergarten successfully as well as providing sports kit for a nearby school. They fully repainted the interior and exterior of the school building and toilet block, working with the Kindergarten staff to design and produce murals inside and out to create a lively learning environment. They provided new school equipment and built a shaded outdoor classroom with bench seating for the hot summer months. They also constructed an adventurous outdoor play area with climbing walls, cargo nets, a see saw and balance stations which the kindergarten children loved learning to use. Whilst busy with the project, the team had time to interact with the Namibian school children who enjoyed being involved in the project as they used their painted hand prints to make flower petals on the walls of the classroom. The team were thrilled with the outcome of the project as one reported: “Our final day at the kindergarten started with us meeting the children of the nursery. We played with them on the new equipment and showed them their newly renovated building. They liked the murals and, in particular, the rainbow.”
Once the project was completed, the expeditioners visited a local secondary school where the netball team and football team were overjoyed to be presented with a full matching sports kit, funded by the sponsorship the exhibition team had secured. Both teams were thrilled to try their new kit as they easily beat Pocklington School in netball and football! After a celebratory meal with the Kindergarten staff and village dignitaries, it was time to say goodbye and make preparations for the next stage of the tour.
The team travelled to the AfriCat Okonjima Nature Reserve, a private reserve dedicated to conserving wildlife, with a particular focus on big cat species. On their arrival, the students had a tour of the reserve with its founder and the senior vet, to learn about its practices, facilities, ethics and research. Okonjima is an enclosed nature reserve, but one area of research focuses on big cats with large territories that stretch into farmland. Over the following few days, the team witnessed many of the species native to this area in their natural habitat, including a lioness stalking impala, and tracked rhino on foot through the bush. They all successfully set camera traps in various locations through the reserve and learned first-hand how difficult it is to use tracking equipment to locate a tagged animal. The team were very sad to be leaving the beauty of the reserve behind, but their next stop was calling.
The final destination of the tour was a three-day exploration of the Etosha National Park which, as well as long game drives, was spent sittingby the watering hole, observing the behaviour of elephants, rhinos, hyaenas and giraffes well into the night.
The 17-day tour passed quickly and it was time to return to Windhoek for the final night, which was spent at Joe’s Restaurant and Grill with the option to sample exotic game meat! The students reflected on their Namibian experience, what they had achieved, learnt and the journey they had shared together. Throughout the tour, the team had been camping in canvas tents and catering for themselves, eating around the campfire most evenings. They learned an enormous amount about campcraft, cooking, project management and teamwork.
The trip leader, Dr Sheena McNamee, commented: “I am immensely proud of the students’ hard work and positivity throughout the expedition. There are always tricky times in a trip of this nature with very basic, shared facilities and so many skills to learn in a short period of time. The students threw themselves in fully at every opportunity and they all learned new practical and social skills as a result. It’s great to see such personal development in just a few weeks.”
The Namibia 2022 Expedition team are especially grateful to their sponsors; Whole Crop Marketing Ltd, Car Supermarket, ResQ Ltd and &Move and commented: “We really can’t thank you enough for your contribution to our expedition; your sponsorship created the opportunity to not only allow us to leave a legacy within Namibia, but to make a difference to children who need it most.”
Please click here to view 'A thank you to our sponsors' from the Namibia 2022 Expedition Team.
Please click the photo above to view the Namibia Summer 2022 photo album.