News from members: Catherine Bullen Foundation

After two years in exile from Namibia due to Covid-19 we finally returned last March with a little fear and trepidation, not knowing what we would find in relation to our projects and the effects of Covid-19. However, our fears were unfounded. It was now time to revive our current projects which had lain dormant for two years.

For the full newsletter with lots of photos, please check here.

Borehole for Donkerbos Primary School and Hostel

First on the list was the borehole for Eiseb Primary School and Hostel. However in the intervening two years, events had overtaken us. Two weeks into our visit this time, we discovered on social media that the Government were drilling two boreholes at Eiseb. Obviously, ours was no longer required. A few days into our visit, the Governor of the Omaheke region rang us and confirmed this was the case, but he had an alternative plan. He told us about Donkerbos Primary School and Hostel which was two hours’ drive away from Otjimanangombe in a south easterly direction towards the Botswana border. It had no water supply and the nearest borehole was 6 kms away with the children collecting water on a rota basis. They were rationed to two glasses of water a day and they bathed in rain water in a plastic tub. Currently there were about 30 children from the school isolating in Gobabis Hospital with scabies.

We agreed to meet the Governor at the school in two days’ time and we saw for ourselves how much a borehole was needed. Events moved at pace. Arrangements were made by the Governor to enlist a government hydrologist to site the boreholes and on Monday 4 April we returned to the school with Mr Booysen, the driller. The hydrologist checked his co-ordinates and commenced to site the boreholes with his instruments. He was accompanied by four San men from the community eager to see what was happening and to show off their expertise with the metal rod. Two sites were identified, one by the road near the school and the other 450 metres into the bush and these were both confirmed by the San with their traditional methods.

Drilling commenced a few days later. While drilling was taking place near the school, the community would clear the bush around the second site. We were told that the school children were very excited when the drilling rig arrived. On Saturday 9 April, we learned that the borehole had reached a depth of 219 metres producing 800 litres of water per hour, so it was a big relief all round. Although sufficient for the school needs it would have been better if it had been more. The following Monday, the drilling of the second borehole began and at the end of the day we got a call to say they had reached 160 metres and it was still dry. The next day we had a message from the driller saying that they had drilled to 255 metres producing a yield of 15,000 litres per hour, a fantastic result. The driller was very pleased and said it was the best result he had ever had in the area. This was a huge relief for us as it was always in the back of our minds that the boreholes could be dry.

It was hard to describe our feelings knowing that we had brought water to this school and community when before that had none and changed their lives forever. Also that we had seen this project through from start to finish within the timescale of a month.

Good Hope Primary School and St Mary’s Senior School for Girls

While we were staying in Otjimanangombe we visited Good Hope Primary School in the village of Okovimburu to view the donations that had been made by St Marys Senior School for Girls in Colchester. Firstly, we went to the hostel kitchen to inspect the two large electric cooking pots which had been donated and were spotlessly clean. They have now been nicknamed “Linda” and “Roger”!

We then visited the classrooms to see the children in their new uniforms which had now been embroidered with the school badge on the shirts and blouses and the initials of the school on the boys’ trousers. St Mary’s school in Colchester now have a programme of fund-raising events to buy socks and shoes for the children.

Order placed for 4×4 ambulance for Otjimanangombe Primary Healthcare Clinic

During our first week in Windhoek we visited Mr Ben Nangombe, the Executive Director in the Ministry of Health and Social Services, accompanied by the British High Commissioner, Mr Charles Moore. He advised that the ambulance staff would be appointed in Gobabis, but would be stationed in Otjimanangombe which was a satisfactory outcome. (Unfortunately, since our visit, due to the economic situation, it looks as the ambulance will not be based at Otjimanangombe due to lack of money to pay for the driver’s subsistence allowance).

We visited Pupkewitz Toyota to discuss the ambulance and said we would be back at the end of our trip to place an order. Accordingly, at the end of our trip when we returned to Windhoek, we went back, accompanied by Gehas from Komeho, our Namibian partner non-governmental organisation, as they would place the order on our behalf. After a brief discussion, we formally placed the order. We will commission the vehicle and hand it over to the Ministry of Health and Social Services during our next visit to Namibia in September.

Multi-purpose hall for Omuhaturua Primary School and Hostel, Otjimanangombe

This is the only project of ours that has been seriously affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, which forced the original contractor to leave the project with only a minimal amount of work done. Since 2019, when the project began, costs have increased. We have redesigned the hall and we have sourced another builder. Construction should start at the end of September.

Installation of solar on a borehole at Otjimanangombe

While we were staying at Otjimanangombe we agreed to part-fund the installation of solar panels and a pump onto an existing borehole to provide water for Omuhaturua Primary School and hostel and State clinic. This was to replace an old diesel engine. Both the school and the clinic will no longer have to pay for the fuel to pump the water.

Volunteering in the clinics

During our visit we spent four weeks each in Otjimanangombe Primary Health Clinic and the Catherine Bullen Primary Healthcare Clinic at Oshivelo. Both are functioning well but, as usual, maintenance is an issue.

We are returning to Namibia on 11 September until 25 November.

Roger and Linda Bullen, The Catherine Bullen Foundation

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