In April 2015, Kickin’ Back traveled to Namibia. Namibia is a country located in southwest Africa with a diverse, rich and bloody history. In 1995, after years of colonization by multiple countries and apartheid, it gained its independence from South Africa and is today geographically one of the largest countries in Africa. While English is the official language, in the streets - and often in a single conversation - Afrikaans, German, French and any of the 17 native languages can be heard flowing seamlessly … and to our American ears with indecipherable blending. The people that we met and our experiences there are ones we will not soon forget. We invite you to take time to share in our experience and explore the photo galleries and short pieces about the organizations and people who opened their doors to us and allowed us to glimpse into their lives and stories. Highlights from the Kickin’ Back trip include: The Bernard Nordkamp Centre in Katutura, The Namibian Football Association and their Galz & Goals program and the Lebensschule in Rehoboth which provides services and education to children with disabilities.
Located in Katatura, the BNC provides supplemental after school educational programs focused on math and English as well as a meal and safe place for the children after school hours and during the holidays. Due to space and staffing constraints enrollment is limited and the waiting list long. During the school year the children arrive around 1 p.m., receive a meal (the food is all donated to the centre) and stay until 6 p.m. They are divided into age and educational level appropriate classrooms to learn mathematics and language skills. While
English is the official language of Namibia, there are over 17 languages spoken and while most children speak several their writing skills lag behind due to the oral traditions in the country and the sporadic nature of the school system.
Bernard Nordkamp Centre Playground
The playground at the Bernard Nordkamp Centre in Katutura was built by volunteers almost 20 years ago. It has been put to good use since then but years of play took their toll on the two wooden structures. After removing several of the more dangerous sections, Kickn’ Back purchased lumber and other supplies, and with the help of students from Brock University who were volunteering at the same time, cleaned up the sand yard, replanted new tires and strengthened and rebuilt the platform on one of the structures.
Lebensschule, (translates to School of Life) was founded by retired nurse Kathy Hampe, born in Rehoboth and currently resides in Windhoek, Namibia. Children with disabilities are frowned upon and it is considered a curse in the culture. While working with families during her nursing career, Kathy came across many disabled children in the homes she visited.
Galz & Coals
Namibian Football Association
One of the highlights of the 2015 trip was the opportunity to work with the Namibian Football Association (NFA) and their Galz & Goals program. Galz & Goals pairs soccer and education to bring girls across the country opportunities that most in the U.S. take for granted. The right to at least basic programs fostering confidence, play, education, physical and emotional safety at home and school, nutrition and sexual education, equality in all areas of life are just a few of the points of emphasis. Funding and support of Galz & Goals comes primarily from
the NFA, UNICEF and SCORE. Thanks to generous donations, Kickin’ Back was able to contribute both new and used soccer equipment as well as new sports bras to the NFA, Galz & Goals and its participants. In addition, Andrea Montalbano contributed several sets of her Soccer Sister Books (http://www.soccersisters.com).
Participants in Galz & Goals range in age from 9 to 17 and train and play in community-based leagues throughout Namibia. Through the dedication and work of staff and volunteers, the Galz & Goals program continues to grow. In 2009, 1,235 girls participated in the program. Last year that number was 2,600 and in 2015 it will likely increase to over 3,000 in 10 community-based leagues. With a population just over two million spread across an area roughly the size of Texas and New York combined this is no small task. The program has been so successful that U20 leagues are now operating in the capital city of Windhoek and Eenhana.
The pictures included here are from a day spent with the Federation and the women on its national team - the “Brave Warriors” (blue shirts) - and a number of the young girls currently involved in the Galz & Goals program (pink shirts). To add some perspective, 2006 was the first year Namibia fielded a full Women’s National Team. Many of the teams founding members came through the Galz & Goals program and are still on the team today.
Ute Roher Kindergarten
The Ute Roher kindergarten is located a 15 minute drive from the Namibian capital city of Windhoek. Like most of the homes the children it services live in, it is a small corrugated tin structure. Inside are two small dirt floored classrooms and a larger room with a poured concrete floor. Most children from the poorer or more rural areas of the country begin their education in similar settings.
In April 2015, Kickin’ Back and students from Brock University in Canada spent a day at the school painting and making small fixes to the inside of the building. The small structure visible behind the swing set is the bathroom and the water tap where the boys are washing
brushes is the schools only source of water. The local children were on spring break when we were there but quickly began to arrive with their younger siblings in tow to see what was going on and help out. The kids’ curiosity quickly won out over any shyness and their excitement was contagious as they showed us around and watched intently everything we were doing.
Donated items – Windhoek, Namibia
Utilizing funds raised by hosting tournaments and the donation of time, resources and the expertise of volunteers, Kickin’ Back sent a shipping container containing books and soccer equipment to Namibia for distribution. After a journey that started in LaGrangeville, NY, the items donated throughout the year were collected at Arnoff Shipping and Storage. From there they were palleted and loaded onto a semi tractor trailer and taken to the harbor in New Jersey and loaded into a container and onto a ship. The ship arrived in Walvis Bay Namibia in May. The container was offloaded and driven to Windhoek and after finally clearing customs the contents of the container are now being sorted and readied for distribution.
Books School Books - In total 7,000 books were sent including 5,000 children’s books and over 2,000 school books. The Bernard Nordkamp Centre will utilize many of the books and distribute the rest to schools and centers throughout Namibia.
Soccer Gear - By our estimate over 6,000 items of new and gently used gear were packed into the container. While many of the items came from individual donations, several clubs and town leagues generously contributed hundreds of new uniform sets. The Galz & Goals program in conjunction with the Namibian Football Association has begun to sort and distribute gear to children in communities and soccer programs it works with across the country.
Lebensschule Garden Project
The garden at the Lebensschule has the potential to provide fresh fruit and vegetables to supplement and add increased nutrition to meals for the students and staff at the school. However to function to its potential, the garden needs more attention and upkeep than the volunteer staff can provide. Kickin’ Back has agreed to provide funding for a garden caretaker to be hired to maintain and expand the garden throughout the year. It is our hope that this will not only provide fresh and healthy food for the students, but will also allow the school to sell any excess produce to help offset operating costs.
If you or your team are interested in sponsoring a month of the Lebensschule Garden Project please email: KickinBackltd@gail.com
Haviland Middle School - AVID Students
After attending a field trip to Gold's Gym to learn more about Kickin' Back, the 8th grade AVID students from Haviland MS were inspired to help the community at large. When they saw first hand the struggles in Namibia, Africa and the adversity that most students overcome just to get an education and healthy meal the class was motivated to act. In response, the class put together a two part fundraiser to raise money and awareness to this plight. The class worked diligently to put together treat bags of baked goods for sale and they also gave out ribbons for spare change and then entered donor names into a raffle.
The AVID class believed that these efforts could make a big difference and they donated the proceeds to one of these schools. The money raised by the AVID students will maintain the grounds and gardens of a school for a month.
AVID is a national program that targets students willing to work hard in effort to achieve their academic dreams. The goals of the AVID class include helping students get into the college of their choice while simultaneously creating confident students who become role models and leaders within the school community.
The AVID students made their peers aware of challenges of life in distant parts of the world. It brought the school community together in effort to better the condition for a community less fortunate. In the end, the AVID students fundraiser and awareness campaign exceeded their expectations! The group was able to accomplish their goal through hard work and determination. It should be noted that Mrs. Nieman's grade 8 AVID class supported this project because they truly believe that every child should have the opportunity to receive a quality education, and that an education is the way to a better future for all.
A special thanks to Kieran, Donna and the Kickin' Back organization because their presentation not only motivated and inspired my students, but it taught us that it is more rewarding to give back.
Kickin' Back Team - Dutchess Classic
Many participated as part of the Kickin' Back team at the 2015 Dutchess County Classic to help raise funding and awareness.