Fourteen students and two staff got a life-changing experience this spring when they spent three weeks in Namibia.
The group went as part of Badgers in Action, an international experiential learning program where members of the Brock community do short-term volunteer placements in Africa. This was the fourth year Brock students have gone to Namibia.
The students worked alongside Namibian volunteers and organizations. Projects included working at the Bernard Nordkamp Centre, which houses an after-school program for about 150 students in the township of Katutura. They also volunteered at the Moses Garob Youth Centre, a soup kitchen for children. The students washed, prepared plates, cooked, served food and clean up afterward.
Other work included cleaning and painting the corrugated tin walls of the Okaye Day Care centre, where a mother of four cares for about 20 children daily. The group volunteered with the first annual Youth Highland Games. Brock students will participate in the games every year, said Christina Bosilo, co-ordinator of international programs in the Office of International Services.
The trip encouraged students to learn about the country and themselves, she said. They explored issues such as poverty, education and community development. The students diligently attended courses about Namibia before the trip.
“We were impressed with how excited they’ve been excited all the way through,” she said.
The trip contained “many impactful and emotional days that remain on my mind,” said Lauryn Wiles, a Psychology student entering her fifth year at Brock.
Particularly vivid are her memories of the Bernard Nordkamp Centre, which sees about 150 children per day, most of whom have been sexually or physically abused.
“Being with these beautiful children who come from such overwhelming challenges quickly puts most of our Western ‘problems’ in perspective,” she said.
Kristen Smith, Brock’s co-ordinator of Community and Ancillary Services, went on the trip, as did alumnus and trip assistant Andrew Barclay, who went on Badgers in Action trips as a Brock student.
Badgers in Action will have its first trip to Botswana this August. The goal, Bosilo said, is to encourage students to be volunteers and informed citizens.
“I’d like to see students getting an international experience so they can come back and make a difference at the local level.”
Nearly $6,000 was raised for in the Brock community for the trip. Efforts included bake sales, a raffle, scratch tickets and a trivia night. Club Roma donated soccer uniforms to distribute on the trip, and a local dentist donated toothpaste.