“It must go on!”

From 1997 to 2003, grebner worked as a teacher at the german school in windhoek/ namibia. He saw not only a fascinating nature, but also a lot of hardship and misery. His social commitment to disadvantaged, disabled and orphaned children began. Since then, he has been supporting facilities in the poor districts of windhoek and swakopmund, as well as a children's home in northern namibia. Only recently, the former teacher was back in the african country for six weeks.

What drove you to namibia this time?

Roland grebner: in 2017, the senior experts service (SES) in bonn sent me to namibia for the first time for three months. I was asked to provide pedagogical and didactical support for kindergartens in the townships and to develop a pedagogical and organizational concept for the children's home in the north of namibia. The people in charge in namibia wanted me to come back. I myself was extremely curious to see if I could leave a mark, make a difference, continue the work. I was delighted when the follow-up assignment was approved.

What were your planned works and activities?

I wanted to evaluate, deepen and continue my work from the previous year. I was very relieved to find the materials I had left behind the previous year in the kindergarten and to see that "my" teachers had returned worksheets were also used. Unfortunately, the lack of copying facilities prevents a more intensive use of the software. I was also pleased to observe a change in the method of teaching. Following the topics I created new worksheets.

I was even more relieved to find the children's home in the north of namibia revitalized. Six disabled children currently live in the house, where they are cared for and looked after. Together with the leader and the pastor of the church community, I made plans for a sustainable future development. Currently we are starting an allotment project right next to the house to grow vegetables and salads.

Did you have someone to support you during this time in namibia??

In namibia, I have been cooperating with ms. Anja rohwer for a long time. Since I am well acquainted with the conditions in the country, I work independently during my assignment in the projects. Friends on site support me logistically and mentally.

In swakopmund they work in a so called informal settlement. What do we have to imagine?

The living conditions are pitiful, about 15,000 people live in partly indescribable dwellings made of corrugated iron, cardboard and wooden boards, of course without electricity and water supply. Water is available at central taps for a fee. Due to the circumstances of life, the socialization conditions of the children are very poor. In this environment, I question my own activities on a daily basis.

By chance I was reading a novel by nadine gordimer"…The children did not know where to go for vitality, and the stale mechanical teachings remained fruitless for them, day after day…". I saw parallels to the situation on the ground and realized that I have to be careful, quiet, not expect too much, not demand too much of the people involved, not overtax them, and only in this way can I make a difference in the end.

What was the local reaction to your visit and your help??

I feel that the teachers trust me. They are grateful for suggestions and materials. The kindergarten teachers bid me farewell with the wish that I would definitely come back. Dysentery is the reaction of the children, their attachment to the project.

What did you take home this time – impressions – feelings??

As always it is a mixture of different feelings. The oppressive living conditions of the people actually create hopelessness. Their joie de vivre, their courtesy in turn encourage me, the efforts of the educators, the light-heartedness of the children motivate me to continue despite recurring doubts about the meaningfulness of my own work.

You will certainly continue your commitment to namibia – what are your next plans??

As i said before: it has to go on, stopping is not an option. I cannot make any concrete plans so soon after my return. Possibly the SES will enable me to do another follow up project. In any case, I will visit the projects privately again and promote them at home.

Do you still need help from germany??

An unconditional yes! Many social projects are not viable without donations from donors, especially because the financial crisis of the state continues and the state – incomprehensibly – cuts spending especially in the education and health sector.

What is it about namibia that appeals to you??

I lived there for six years, I know the country, it's become my second home. So what could be more obvious than to get involved there??