EHRA's School Partnership Programme
The schools program is an amazing opportunity for groups of students from high schools, secondary schools, colleges and universities to spend their holiday as a class, experiencing all that Namibia has to offer. For some students this may be their first visit to Africa.
This challenging program has proven to be one of the best experiences in the lives of the students who wish to make a difference to others as well as themselves. The 2 week field expedition to Namibia is the focal point of the partnership, where students spend one week at our local partner school renovating facilities and the following week on a trek through the desert learning to navigate while also learning about the desert's ecosystem.
Our latest school partnership visitors, a group of teaching students from the UK, Stockton Riverside College came to Damaraland to help our partner school, A.Gariseb Primary, on the Ugab River in november 2015. They renovated the girls dormitories and also held lessons every afternoon with the pupils, focusing on building self esteem and having alot of fun! The group then spent a week with Hendrick Munembome, Mattias and the elephants! The Childcare and Early Years students seemingly enjoyed their time with us.
If you would like to read more about their experiences told buy their teacher Liz Maddison, please see:
Week One - Local School Renovation Project
EHRA has been involved in the development and improvement of local Namibian schools in the region where we monitor and track wild elephants. The rationale in the beginning (2003) was to help our neighbouring school, A.Gariseb Primary School in Anixab, which is about 15km from EHRA base Camp. The school was in a terrible state of disrepair and we realised that with our experience, resource and a volunteer work force we could make a significant difference as well as a lasting impact for the students of both schools!
The long-term partnership was formalized in 2004 between the A.Gariseb Primary School and King Alfred's School from London. So far the King Alfred Students have repaired and repainted classrooms, dormitories, toilet blocks, showers, built a kindergarten with a toilet, built a playground, provided a library and books, and thanks to a donation of computers from Siemens in Switzerland plus 6 computers from King Alfred's, we were able to establish the school's first computer room!
In July 2010 King Afred's students constructed a large vegetable garden and plant nursery that the school is using to grow its own vegetables.
The Library was also constructed at the school in 2008 through the schools program with the help of Felsted School from Essex, UK. Felsted students also built the shelter around the kindergarten, repaired the playground, replaced the old and dirty sand in the playground and painted more classrooms and the library.
Students are given a fundraising target and this covers the cost of materials and supplies needed as well as their travelling expenses. In general, students have 12 months in which to raise the funds and many come up with inventive and fun ways to get the money rolling in!
Showers pre and post renovation!
Main Classroom block 2004 and main classroom block renovated externally in 2007
A.Gariseb Primary School now looks FANTASTIC! The partnership scheme with EHRA and King Alfred's has had a huge impact on the school. Teachers and pupils are now very proud of their school.
Every year pupils bring clothing and shoes which are distributed to the children most in need at A.Gariseb Primary. EHRA has also donated new mattresses and blankets for all 280 children sleeping at the school.
In 2010 work began at Frans Fredrick Primary Schoolin Fransfontein, with help once again from the Felsted School plus a large group of students from St Andrew's College in Canada who repaired and repainted 8 classrooms and painted murals. King Alfred's continued the partnership in 2011 through the renovation of dormitories and the donation of 150 mattresses, thanks Maersk in Walvis Bay.
King Alfred's students were back at A.Gariseb Primary in 2012 and 2013. The groups constructed a playground, repainted more dormitory blocks, fixed up the veggie garden and built a composting toilet with a sink and tap at the kindergarten!
Broken windows at Frans Fredrick Primary School
Playground made from tires!
Composting toilet at Kindergarten
Renovated vegetable garden
Camping and Living Conditions
Africa is a beautiful place and environmentally EHRA believes that camping out under the stars in such remote areas is the experience of a lifetime that most people from towns and cities rarely get to enjoy! We start the first week with tents for the students but we find that by the end of the week students are sleeping outside on their bedrolls under the stars. The best part of camping in the desert is there is never a threat of rain! We are also in an area with little to no water so mosquitos are also rare. We have limited water for cooking and cleaning, therefore showers are not available in the first week. Roughing it and pushing personal limits are what the first week is all about. Again, for many students this will also be the first time they have been away from family, modern conveniences, their daily meal routines and proper bathrooms!
Our cooking and cleaning routine is on a rotation with all students expected to participate fully.· This also adds an additional level of accomplishment as students prepare and cook a full meal for their friends over the open fire! The focus being on living in a small community where team work and caring for each other are the keys!
Week two - Trekking and Navigation
In the second week, the students will be trekking with our experienced guides over 70kms through the Ugab River and surrounding desert. Every day we walk further than the previous day, building up strength for the final days solo trek. During the week's trek, students also learn navigation skills, map reading and general rules of trekking. We also introduce the group to the delicate eco system of the desert and the role the desert elephants play within that ecosystem.
The walks will take the students through some of the most beautiful and wild territory of Damaraland and the Ugab River System including canyons, riverbeds, wetlands and open desert plains. Having completed the trekking week, the group will be fully prepared for their 24km (+-) solo trek. The students will be expected to prepare that day's meals, pack up camp, pack their day packs, navigate and trek to the final nights camp as a team. They must plan as a group: nominate a leader, medical , navigation and catering teams and of course, walk the distance! The sense of accomplishment is the real reward and everyone thoroughly enjoys the amazing and exhausting adrenalin rush of the final day's trek.
Below: Students learning about compasses
The itinerary's roots are firmly based on a ‘vision quest’ philosophy encompassing Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs theory. The children firstly have to fundraise and then do renovation work, thereby opening their eyes to their wider community and its well being.
The expedition qualifies students for the Gold Duke of Edingburgh Award as well as provides a fantastic experience for any student who participates. Our staff and logistics team have run the program for 9 years and have a perfect safety record.
Every group that has completed our schools program departs Namibia with a sense of personal fulfillment and accomplishment that is rare and life changing.