styled by namibia.

I have enjoyed being immersed in the beautiful, bold, bright world of shitenges.

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Shitenges or kitenges are fabrics similar to sarongs worn mostly by women. Shitenges are commonly designed into garments such as dresses and tops, or even worn alone as head wraps. Shitenges are sold by the meter and can cost as little as N$10 (a little less than a US dollar) per meter, although more popular or “waxy” prints can cost N$70+ (~$5.40 US) per meter. Most of these prints are made in other African countries, so prices can be a tad higher to account for importing.

Many local tailors can put a needle to work without the use of patterns. All of the outfits below were made from a simple WhatsApp picture I sent to the tailor (excluding the dashiki print top.)

Tailors have styled me for weddings, everyday wear and Peace Corps events. The most expensive custom-made outfit cost me about N$450 (~$35 USD) and the least expensive was about N$80 (~$6 USD). Also, check out my Wambo earrings made by the ladies at Work of Our Hands, a non-profit based in Okahandja which focuses on empowering women through employment opportunities. Check out their IG page and better yet, support them.

I loved falling in love with Namibia and the styles of this country which I will miss when I move back to the States.

The pink striped print is called “odelela”. It’s traditional Wambo print and is worn mostly at celebrations…everything else is just me embracing the beauty of this country.

❤ Krystal

i am a confident young woman.

When it’s that time of the month, I don’t have to worry about having proper hygienic products to manage my period.

Unfortunately, this is not the reality of every woman.

In Namibia, some women without access to proper feminine products will use mattress filling, newspapers, and even leaves during menstruation. Although I haven’t encountered any women that have used any of these methods, it happens. Culture and economic constraints lead to poor menstrual hygiene management. But, most importantly, some young women miss school because they don’t have access to pads during their periods.

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SisterPADS is an NGO based in Windhoek. They provide cost-effective, eco-friendly, washable and re-usable sanitary pads which aim to improve girls’ menstrual health hygiene and welfare.

In early March, my counterparts, Ileni and Patrina, a fellow volunteer, Rachael, and I held a girls empowerment workshop in my community.

60 SisterPAD kits were donated to girls in my community who have difficulty acquiring pads due to financial hardships. We wanted to conduct a workshop not only focusing on menstruation, but to educate girls about sexual health, HIV/AIDS, hygiene and sanitation, reproductive health, and how to care for the reusable pads they received at the end of the workshop.

I am a confident young woman.
I am in control of my own body.
I am in control of my own health.
I am in control of my sexual health.
I am educated about my sexual health.
I make my own decisions about my own health.
I make my own decisions about sex.

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I really enjoyed seeing my counterparts shine during this workshop. They covered the topics of sexual reproductive health with the utmost sensitivity, empathy, and care.

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To conclude the workshop, Rachael guided the participants through a self-esteem activity. The each wrote down what makes each of them unique and how their qualities contribute positively to the world around them.

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Body changes are normal. A young woman should not be afraid of these changes. With SisterPADS, these girls will be able to hygienically and safely manage their periods, but they will also miss fewer days of school.

❤ Krystal

taking a look back

I was selected along with 16 current volunteers to serve as a RV (Resource Volunteer) during PST (Pre-Service Training) for G47. Last week, I attended GTOT (General Training of Trainers), in preparation for the incoming group of business and health volunteers next week.

I am still coming to grips with the fact that my time as a volunteer is coming to an end. I am experiencing many feelings of sadness and denial. And feelings that I could’ve done more.

I promise this is not a sad, sappy post. I wanted to share two things in this post:

My invitation letter & My aspiration statement

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I remember receiving my invitation letter while I was sitting at the WIC office during my community nutrition rotation. Minutes before, I had gotten off the phone with my Dietetic Technician advisor and financial aid office. Due to an administrative error, they had dropped me out of my courses. My advisor was worried and called me that morning wondering why I had dropped courses more than halfway through my last semester. I called the financial aid office to clear things up, which was not easy. When I received my letter, there was a mixture of excitement and frustration. Robin Cooley, my preceptor and one of my references, celebrated with me. Receiving this invitation, solidified the reality of the Peace Corps for me.

My aspiration statement was written after reflecting on my time interning at Brookside Assisted Living during my clinical nutrition rotation. Ms. B, which I found out later, lived in my neighborhood, helped change my perspective on life and death, and how each of us has the ability to do something.

I challenge each volunteer currently serving, coming to the end of service, or even about to begin service to take a look back at your invitation and your aspiration statement. 27 months of service is not easy. Heck, 6 months of service is not easy. While service may play out much different than you expected, looking back can provide the chance to see more of what your country of service has taught you and less of what you taught them.

❤ Krystal

f i s h r i v e r c a n y o n

1 round-trip train ride. 5 days. 8 Peace Corps Volunteers. 500 pictures. 75 kilometers.

Perks of being a Peace Corps Volunteers include opportunities to travel and see the world. Namibia is a country of contrasting beauty, a sentiment included in the nation’s anthem.

Last August, seven volunteers and I took on the challenge of hiking the second largest canyon in the world, Fish River Canyon. Located in southern Namibia, Fish River Canyon hiking trail stretches about 90 kilometers and is one of the most visited attractions in Namibia.

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Fish River Canyon hiking trail contains a steep descent, boulders, rocks, deep sand, slippery river crossings, baboons, snakes, scorpions, and wild game throughout the canyon.

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Being a beginner hiker, here are some things to consider if you plan on taking on Fish River Canyon.

Tips if you plan to hike Fish River Canyon:

Print a route map to carry along. Luckily, one person in our group thought to do that, otherwise, we’d probably still be hiking to this day.

Know your fitness level. Although minimal hiking experience is needed, the trails are a mixture of stones, deep sand, grass, bedrock and in some places steep ascends or descends. It requires moderate fitness level. You will be spending the major of the days walking under the blistering sun, which can add to the difficulty of the hike. Many groups finish the hike in 5 days, but taking the shortcuts can cut about a day and a half off of the hike.

Food and drink

A water filter pump is a huge advantage. Water purification tablets if not.

5-day meal plan for Fish River Canyon

Sleeping

You can either sleep in the open or in a lightweight tent. We had a mix in our group, and those sleeping in tents got the better sleep. The wind picked up at night and sand in the face isn’t a great thing to wake up to. Take a super-warm sleeping bag regardless.

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❤ Krystal

 

i choose to stay.

Last year, I wrote a post about FOMO (read: the truth about fomo as a peace corps volunteer). I mentioned how being a Volunteer means missing out on birthdays and other significant milestones back home. But, there is one thing I left out.

Death.

Because the thought of death still makes me uncomfortable, although death is as natural as life.

On Sunday, February 11, my Gramps was placed in hospice care. He passed away early in the morning on Saturday, February 17, the day after my 31st birthday. He was 87 years old.

With only 3 months remaining of my service, I choose to stay in Namibia. This was not an easy decision to make.

Throughout the course of the week, my days were filled with what can only be described as signs from God. Signs of comfort and peace and understanding. This helped guide me through the grief of being away from home during such a significant time for my family.

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I choose to stay.

Because I want to continue your legacy of service to others.
Because I want to remember your glances as if you already knew you were looking at me for the last time.
Because I want to remember your big white smile and gentle laugh.
Because I know you wanted me to remember your life and not your death.
Because no matter how far away I am in distance, you’ll always be in my heart.

Dedicating my Peace Corps Service to my Gramps
Cary Holland, Jr.
November 13, 1930 – February 17, 2018

❤ Krystal

everyone seen’ a rhino, say yeah.

 

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First animal sighting of the canine Adidas and Nike behind me.

 

Living in Africa Namibia, I think everyone back home assumes that I encounter dangerous wildlife on the daily.

The most common “wildlife” I see in my village are goats, cattle, dogs, and chickens. Think of the animals you would encounter driving down a back road in Oklahoma, and those are exactly the same everyday animals I see in Namibia. I know this because I’ve driven many back roads in Oklahoma.

Northern Namibia is home to one of the oldest national parks, Etosha. Etosha was established as a game reserve in 1907 and covers over 22,000 square kilometers in the Kunene region. Etosha is home to hundreds of mammals, reptiles, birds, including some threatened and endangered species, oh and it’s only about a 2 1/2 hour drive from my home in Ondobe.

My friend, Mandeep, invited me to Etosha with him and his mother and sister who were visiting from New Jersey. Justin also came along and drove us through the self-guided safari.

Okay, I’m finished talking. I know you just wanna see animals.

*As I am writing this, I am trying to watch YouTube videos of rhinos, elephants, and lions. Let me remind you, these are wild animals. Catching the best snapshot is in no way more important than protecting your life. All of these photos were taken from the safety of a vehicle, and I hope that if you decide to visit Etosha or any national park, you will also practice common sense to protect yourself from a dangerous animal encounter.

Man, I am bossy today.

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Some wildebeest fighting while others mind theirs.

 

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When you see it.

 

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Jackals waiting for leftovers from the lion’s feast.

 

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Are they black with white stripes or white with black stripes?

 

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Kori bustards are the largest flying birds. So, pretty much I’ve seen pterodactyls. Life complete.

 

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A line of elephants leaving the waterhole.

 

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Springboks are like the goats of Etosha. They are everywhere!

 

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Beautiful ostrich. Supposedly, the black ones are male and the brown ones are female.

 

Although I don’t have a picture of the rhino (I mean, I do, but it’s so far away), as we headed back towards the north gate we looked over to see a large gray body slowly walking through the savannah. So, we seen’ a rhino and I would call this a successful trip to Etosha!

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Then, there are these 3 crazy animals.

❤ Krystal

you’re invited to camp glow.

I’m writing to ask for your help with one of our main projects in Namibia.

We’re currently raising funds for Camp GLOW (Guys and Girls Leading Our World). It’s a leadership camp which focuses on gender equality and will take place in Windhoek at the end of August. We have 44 campers from all over the country, meaning youth from different tribes and cultures coming together (many of them seeing the capital for the first time) and exploring ways to set goals, break stereotypes, and become the leaders of Namibia’s tomorrow.

I’m sending Teopolina, a Grade 9 learner, to camp this year, so it’s consuming my every waking thought. Because of Peace Corps policy, I’m not allowed to post our fundraising link directly to Facebook. I know it’s summertime and you’re all really busy, but if you can give even $10, every little bit counts.

Follow this link:

https://donate.peacecorps.gov/donate/project/camp-glow-namibia-2017/ where you can find more information about Camp GLOW and how you can help.

If you can think of anyone else who would be able to make a contribution please send the link along to them.

I’m eternally grateful for any help you can give.

Thank you in advance!

❤ Krystal