stop saying, “there are children starving in africa.”

You’ve probably heard this a time or two growing up as your parent’s way to guilt you to join the “Happy Plate Club.”

I may even be guilty of repeating this.

There is so much harm, confusion, manipulation in this statement.

What is the message we are trying to relay?

Children starving so let’s help them by eating all your food.

Do you want to become a starving child by skipping one food group?

Why Africa?

Africa is a continent. Namibia, South Africa, Morocco, Egypt, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Mali, Zimbabwe and 46 others are countries in Africa.

I don’t have children, so I honestly could be speaking out of turn, but I do not think to teach our children (nieces, nephews, cousins, etc.) that disparities such as hunger, HIV/AIDS, rape, child trafficking, only happen to other people in other places on the globe. I think this is why so many of us lack compassion. We have the illusion that these problems are never our problems.

Here’s the thing. Yes, there are starving children in ugh– Africa. But, there are starving children in America.

If it’s one thing I have learned living in Namibia, is that Namibians don’t waste food! Foods that may seem taboo to most Westerners are edible and eaten here. I’ve tried cow lungs, chicken feet, along with an unidentifiable mutton curry and people I encounter on a daily basis are not starving or malnourished. They simply use everything God has given them. They don’t waste.

We need to stop using this statement as a scare tactic to have children not waste food. It’s insensitive and caters to a false stereotype about Africa. Africa; Namibia, and other countries have their problems, but America does too.

I can only imagine the tables turned and a parent telling their child, “Finish your food, there are wasteful children in America.”

things no one tells you about being a pcv.

If you Google “Peace Corps Blogs,” you will stumble upon a whole network of blogs from current and returned volunteers. Blogs that will make you laugh  (and laugh some more) some that will make you cry. Ones that will inspire you and empower you. Some that will make you think, “I can do that,” or “I want to do that.” While others will make you think, “why would anyone want to do that?”*

In my preparation for Namibia, I too found myself referring to many PCV blogs, vlogs, and any PC media on the daily. Of course, many of these blogs provided me with lists of what to pack and what not to pack, or what to expect (which, any PCV can tell you the answer is: kapenasha.) Most of these blogs I found to be very helpful. Even if my bags still ended up being overweight. I’m working on the meaning of “packing light.”

I have compiled a list of Things No One Tells You About Being a PCV. Enjoy!

  1. You’ll be tempted to use a dirty plate, fork or spoon, once or twice. And once or twice, you’ll actually do it. If you are one of the lucky PCVs, you will have no kitchen sink, which means handwashing everything. It’s fine. It’s soothing. But, some days I just want a heaping scooping of peanut butter, just one scoop.
  2. Sand. You will eat sand, you will be covered in sand. All the time. Aww, you’re cute, you must have read all the PC blogs from Micronesia with volunteers in their hammocks overlooking the ocean? (I’m guilty, too.) Well, in Sub-Saharan Africa there is sand. Lots and lots of sand, and most times no water. No, no water.wp-1466343276370.jpg
  3. You will wake up next to an insect (dead or alive) more times than you like. You get used to it. One morning, I woke up and was sharing a pillow with a praying mantis. I was awake, he was still praying. Then, there’s the morning I woke up cuddling a with a moth. He didn’t make it. Just expect to find bugs. The more you prepare for this, the less traumatic your service will be.20160715_064822.jpg
  4. You’ll have a pet spider (maybe even two or three) in your hut. Luckily, in Namibia, most of these are non-venomous, so I let them live to eat other pests such as mosquitoes. Refer to your Spiders, Snakes and Scorpions handbooks from PST and you’ll be fine.20160906_094551.jpg
  5. You will also lose track of how many times you pee outside, in a bag, or in a container, because, you have no choice. I think my bladder has shrunken. I will walk 1 km home from the clinic, and the second I see the pit latrine, which is about 100 m from the gate of my homestead, I sweat bullets while scurrying across the yard before it turns into “Bridesmaids in Namibia.” It’s like an awful Pavlov’s dog experiment. TMI. But, do what the locals do, sometimes you just can’t hold it.
  6. Your ADLs will be a community attraction. I mean, host family still watches me wash my laundry (and sometimes they take pictures of me while doing it). The spotlight is ALWAYS on. As long as no one is hurting you or over-violating your privacy, roll with it, and then blog about it in good fun.20160812_193121
  7. You will find a new hobby or revisit old ones. Meditation, photography, blogging, baking, reading, exercising. You will have plenty of free time between the 24/7 in which you’re Peace Corpsin’.
  8. You will learn new meanings for words you’ve known all your life, ready?
  9. Yes = Maybe or No.
  10. Maybe = Maybe but most likely No.
  11. No = Yes, No, or Maybe.
  12. Although being a PCV 24/7 is many times exhausting, you appreciate the world and your community on an entirely different level.

*Links in the post are current and returned PCVs in Namibia who post regularly. Add them to your list of blog reads.

❤ Krystal

miss ndapandula.

For my two years prior to coming to Namibia, I worked at Starbucks. Happy #PSL season, y’all! If you have ever been to Starbucks, you know that after you order your friendly barista writes (or attempts to write) your name on your cup. From a simple task such as this, you realize how important someone’s name is. For goodness sake, there are websites devoted to barista fails. Why is this such a big deal? Because it is. Your name is part of your identity. Without a name, how will you know that the quad grande half-caf 2.5 pumps vanilla latte with 4 Splendas, no foam, stirred, at 127 degrees sitting on the edge of the counter is yours?

Okay, I need to stop bringing up my painful past.

Names are a part of every culture. Names give us a sense of belonging, uniqueness, and identity. It’s strange to think that names cannot be taken from us and they don’t die. Names are important. In some cultures, due to high infant mortality, infants are not even given a name until after their first birthday. While in other cultures, particularly in Namibia, people are given two names: a birth name and a Christian name.

Quite often when introducing myself (Edina lange oKrystal or simply Ame Krystal) and asking for one’s name in return (Ove lye?), I typically get more than just that.

For example, it’s usually something along the lines of, “My name is Tobias, it means God is good”.

Meanwhile, I’m over here like, “My name is Krystal, it means clear or rock or something.”

Knowing a person’s name builds a connection. People, no matter where they dwell, feel connected when you know their name. It makes you feel wanted, needed, it builds trust and relationships.

It’s a tradition that PCV are given a name by their host communities. I was a little reluctant at first, because immabehonest. I like my name. I feared that my Namibian name wouldn’t suit me or I wouldn’t like it or I wouldn’t remember it or even respond to it. You know? Reasonable fears.

I also imagined it would be some larger ceremony where everyone in the community would gather with drums and fire as I received my new name

So, ladies and gents, the moment you have been waiting for… now introducing, Miss Krystal Ndapandula.

And guess what? I don’t hate it. And I actually respond to it.

Ndapandula (pronounced Ndaw-pan-doola) means thank you. This name was given to me by my host brother, Freddy.

Ndapandula is a common name in Namibia. When I introduce myself as Krystal Ndapandula, it makes me feel more “Wambo”. But, also ‘Krystal’ is hard for locals to pronounce, so throwing in ‘Ndapandula’ is the icing on the cake. I think my community appreciates my efforts of integrating.

Each day as I become more and more cognizant of my responsibility to others, I want to live up to the name I was given. By humbling myself to serve a higher purpose beyond me and by putting my community’s needs above my wants for my community, I strive daily to be a volunteer Ondobe is actually thankful for.

<3 Miss Krystal Ndapandula

Thank you

*Also, completely unrelated: We have now observed daylight savings here in Namibia, so with that information, I am now 6 hours ahead of EST and 7 hours ahead of CST.*

so, you thought you could dance?

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When I was four years old, my parents enrolled me in tap dancing. I loved it, or so I thought. My class learned a routine to the song, On The Good Ship Lollipop. The day of our recital, we were each handed an over-sized lollipop crafted from brightly colored sponges on a wooden dowel to hold as our prop. I vaguely remember some kid taking a bite out of the sponge because they thought it was a real lollipop. (Maybe, that was me?) Anyhow, as my mom helped me wiggle my way into my leotard and my froufrou white and blue tulle and silver sequin-littered tutu, I remember her saying one thing to me, “Mommy and Daddy will have a camera, so don’t forget to smile.”

Well, I did exactly that with a few shuffle-steps in between.

I was very confused about what was happening. To this day, I have not one picture from this.

Fast forward to my junior year in college. I decided to take Intro to Dance thinking this would be redemption to my smiling debut of 1991.

We learned a routine to Lady Marmalade. Zero redemptions were earned that semester.

I barely scraped by with a B. Although, I learned a few things about my dancing style that semester. I can’t. That’s my style. I actually learned that my feet…and legs…and body… don’t move that quickly or with any type of timed, coordinated rhythm.

Even as an adult I have had the same err problems in Zumba and hip-hop aerobics classes. I’ve had an instructor approach me after Zumba one time to say, “You’ll get better.”

And to clear things up- I never once thought I could dance. Similar to my swimming, I can do enough to not drown.

All this to say, Namibians can dance.

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Gosh, I could look at these smiles ALL day. I love these kids!

Namibians love to incorporate dancing in everything. Church service, weddings, youth groups, after school, the list goes on.

I split my time during the week between the local schools and the clinic. The first few times I visited the schools, the learners (students) would just laugh at me. Mostly because they don’t understand my American English. Since some of the learners are becoming more comfortable around me, they now have taken the time to show me their hobbies and talents.

I made a deal with my learners. I’ll help them with English if they will teach me to dance.🙂

I decided to start using YouTube for my videos instead of Vimeo because it offers more capabilities of editing, etc., and it has more of a Peace Corps audience than said Vimeo. Plus, my friends and family back home already use YouTube.

In this video, the learners have organized a song and dance about animals and why they are important. Take a look! Make sure watch it in HD for best picture.

❤ Krystal

waterworks and sometimes it doesn’t.

We’ve all heard about Namibia and its water crisis. In 2007, an aquifer was discovered in my region (Ohangwena). It is predicted to be able to supply a significant amount of water to Namibian residents.

Until that phase is rolled out… Some days I come home to dry taps.

I don’t think I have ever appreciated the conveniences or realized the magnitude of inconveniences when it comes to water until I moved to Namibia. I mean, just like food, clothing, and shelter, water is a necessity. Water is life. Water is bae.

Being a PCV, you quickly learn that it’s always a good idea to plan for water to just not work.

Sometimes for a few hours and maybe sometimes for a few days.

WATER FILTER (CONVENIENCE)

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Peace Corps supplies volunteers a water filter. Although the water in my area is clean and purified, it’s nice to have a container to store water in. You quickly learn to be creative and efficient with your resources in the Peace Corps. This is strategically placed above my dish washing bucket so that any extra drop can be used for washing dishes. Some PCVs utilize jerry cans for extra water storage in case of emergencies, or if they need to travel a distance to fetch water.

BUCKET BATHING (INCONVENIENCE)

Summer time is approaching quickly, which means outdoor shower. But, for the other times of the year it means bucket baths.

I hate bucket bathing.

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I am so new at this concept, I never actually feel all that clean. You know the Peace Corps meme with a glass half-full (or half-empty, however you want to look at it) which says something along the lines of “I can take a shower with that.” While in my case, that truth is a tad bit stretched. But, I will say when I do take a bucket bath I use at most 6 liters of water.

I fill up two of these and add about a liter or so of cold water. One of many “American” downfalls of bucket bathing is time spent. It takes about 3 to 4 minutes to heat up each pitcher of water, and a considerably longer amount of time to actually bathe.

There’s also a techniques, which I will probably still be working on at the completion of my two years in Namibia.

First, wash your face.

Second, wash your arm, legs, pits, and bits.

Third, wash your hair.

Lastly, wash your underwear. It’s very taboo to wash your underwear with your outerwear to hang on the line. So, instead your underwear should be washed with your bath water and hung up in a private area, such as your room, to dry.

TIPPY TAP (CONVENIENCE)

In the village, we do a lot of health promotion and education on proper hand washing and hygiene which includes how to make a tippy tap. My host brother actually made this one while I was away for the weekend. A tippy tap is a wonderful hands-free way to hand washing when running water is not available.

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DISH WASHING (INCONVENIENCE)

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I shared this photo on my Instagram a few weeks ago. I share a kitchen with my host family and there is no sink. Instead we use buckets to wash and rinse dishes. Since moving out to my hut, I have downsized to only one bucket (buckets get expensive and take up room). I wash my dishes in one bucket, set them aside, and then fetch clean water to rinse. I then use the rinse water as the wash water for the next load the following day. Repeat. I do sometimes consider this an inconvenience, but actually it’s a little therapeutic. Sometimes, the kids help me wash. They like using my kitchen gadgets, i.e. bristle brush to clean my water bottles and my sponge with the built-in stainless-steel sponge.

It’s truly the little things that make a world of a difference.

❤ Krystal

food: the universal language.

Food: The Universal Language by: Krystal Wright

Submitted by: Krystal Wright

Deborah Gillespie, MS, RD/LD

In the field of dietetics, it is difficult to be all knowing in the ever-changing and expanding science of nutrition. Toss into the mix a military family and recreation and one may find it even harder to find a good balance. I had the opportunity of interviewing Ms. Deborah Gillespie to pick her brain about her experiences as a Registered and Licensed Dietitian. Everything from the pathway she has taken to become a dietitian, to the mentors who have inspired her and guided her under their wings, to the most rewarding aspect in her work.

 “Providence moves when you follow your passion.”- Byron Davis, former Olympic swimmer

 Ms. Deborah Gillespie is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian and has been for over 20 years. Following her passion as a formally trained dancer, Deborah originally had intended to study Communication and Music at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. It wasn’t until a family member was diagnosed with Type II Diabetes that she realized her true interest in nutrition and decided to change her focus to Home Economics and Consumer Sciences- Dietetics earning her bachelor’s degree and continuing on the earn her master’s in Medical Dietetics from Saint Louis University.

 “You cannot buy your health; you must earn it through healthy living.”- Joel Fuhrman, M.D., board-certified family physician, author of Eat to Live, and nutritional researcher

 Deborah’s education fully prepared her to take on her role as a dietitian. She was a teacher’s assistant during her graduate studies at Saint Louis University and began working in an oncology research lab thereafter. She has be able to expand her dietetics portfolio by working and specializing in public health, women’s health focusing mainly on weight management and gestational diabetes, community clinics, research labs and even consulting. Deborah believes that health begins with what is put on your plate, which she has shown through her involvement in food education, health-risk research, and experiences ranging from food preparation to clinical work.

With the field of dietetics having such endless possibilities and countless focuses, Deborah mentioned that staying proficient in every aspect of nutrition is one of that hardest parts of her job. Due to the fact, there is a large umbrella that covers dietetics; there is always so much to learn. With the employment trends emerging in dietetics she believes that nutrigenomics- the study of the effects of foods and food constituents on gene expression, the focus and shift of using more functional food groups and superfoods, and the merging of the food service industry with clinical nutrition will open up the doors for new dietitians entering the field.

“Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.”- Julia Childs, American chef, author, and television personality

Having the fortune and flexibility to work part-time as a Registered Dietitian has been a major benefit for Deborah. Being a military wife, the flexibility has played in her favor when her family has relocated to several places in the United States and even overseas. Although it requires a lot of time and planning to balance her family and work, she has had amazing opportunities to travel and enjoy food cultures around the world and even took classes at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, Acquolina in Venice and Cucina Italiana in Soignies. She admits that her favorite foods include almost anything with pesto. Along with expanding her culinary knowledge, she also serves in local food banks throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex with a helping hand and educational insight to those less fortunate. Helping people and being fully engaged in the present is how she continues to keep balance and find reward in her work. Seeing people change their health and change their lives by reducing or eliminating medicines is also a great reward, in her opinion.

“Food is our common ground, a universal experience.”- James Beard, American chef and food writer

To put it simply: Food is universal and touches everyone. Although our foods may look different and be prepared differently, it’s the common link to every living thing. In addition to learning something new practically every day, Deborah’s passion for nutrition, food, and dietetics comes down the fact that it links us all together, even stating that it’s our “common ground.” A mentor she met during her previous work was Dr. Nixon. He was one of the first nutrition advocates she met during her work. She respected the fact that he would exhaust all nutrition solutions prior to offering a prescription to his patients.

 The field of dietetics can be very rewarding to those who enjoy flexibility, creativity, and most importantly serving others. With the increasing knowledge and research in nutrition, in addition to the role it plays with healthcare, those with an open-mind and increasingly thirst for knowledge are more likely to succeed in this profession. Taking advantage of opportunities before graduation, such as volunteering at a local food bank, women’s center, and gaining hands-on experience yield the best chances for excelling in the field. Having “people skills” such as being a good communicator, empathic, and organized are also very helpful.

From my interview with Deborah, I have realized that a dietitian is really a profession based on serving the needs of others. The reward of having healthy clients exceeds monetary reward. There are several career paths you can take when you become a dietitian- from research to consulting to clinical work. The possibilities are really endless. I enjoyed getting to hear about what dietetics has to offer for me in the future.

Beard, James. (1974) Beard on Food: The Best Recipes and Kitchen Wisdoms from the Dean of American

Cooking. New York City, New York: Knopf.

 Childs, Julia. (1975) From Julia Child’s Kitchen. New York City, New York: Gramercy.

 Fuhrman, M.D., Joel. (2003, 2011) Eat to Live. New York City, New York: Hachette Book Group.

 Roll, Rich. (Producer). (2013, February 1). RRP# 14: Byron Davis: The Rich roll Podcast. [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from http://www.richroll.com/podcast/14-byron-davis/