ICT2 – The Revenge

VSO divide their In-Country Training (ICT) into two parts imaginatively called ICT1 and ICT2. ICT1 takes place immediately after arrival and in our case consisted of a four-day affair consisting of cultural lessons, personal security, health (don’t stick it in anyone or anything), language, emergency procedures and the “drop off exercise”.

ICT2 happened for us over the last week in a place called Mariental some three hours south of Windhoek. This included all our March arrival group and three earlier arrivals who I had previously met.

Following some shenanigans getting transport to Windhoek I arrived in the bright lights of the capital on Thursday evening and though some miracle eventually managed to navigate the driver to where I was staying.

It turns out though I knew the way to a place near where I was staying from the VSO office, and I knew the way to the VSO office from the guesthouse I had stayed in before, I didn’t know where this guesthouse was really and all my walking routes were unsuitable for vehicles. Fun and games.

On Saturday various contingents arrived from all over culminating with the Katima Milano detachment who had driven over 800 miles. Went out for a dinner on the Saturday night in a replay of our first ever night in Namibia all those months ago.

Swapped many stories of danger, dissatisfaction and broken agreements. On my first VSO training (Preparing to Volunteer – P2V) we were told the collective noun for a group of VSO volunteers was a “whinge of volunteers”. We certainly lived up to our proud collective name.

Selfishly it turns out I’d had a pretty easy ride with just some accommodation, under-utilisation and other relatively minor woes. Other people have had serious hardcore problems that would have sent me in a screaming run back to Blighty but are all coping admirably.

We all departed in a massive convoy of various vehicles from the VSO office on Sunday down to Mariental where we found we were staying in two rather nice guesthouses a stonesthrow from each other. The main one had beer at N$8 (about 60p) a bottle which is the same price as I pay in my favoured shebeen in Opuwo.

Luckily the bars shut at ten every night to save me from myself.

The training itself consisted of a number of sessions covering various aspects of Namibia such as:

  • History and Politics – delivered by the head of the Evangelical Church in Namibia (a Bishop). Turns out it’s all the UKs fault (and judging by eye-line specifically mine, no wonder my breakfast always arrived late for the rest of the week).
  • Dangerous Creepy and Slithery Things – ok that’s not what it was called but a volunteer dropped in to deliver a truly fantastic presentation on the dangerous snakes, spiders and beetles there are in Namibia. It was very well received but I’m sure I’ve already met one of the spiders. This probably could have done with being in ICT1!
  • Mainstreaming Disability
  • Land Use – predominantly white-owned massive farms which remains unchanged since independence but may start to be reformed in the not too distant future
  • HIV/AIDS in Namibia – this included the standard VSO condom demo on a very realistic prop. During a debate within the audience (is it ok to re-use the femidom if I remember correctly [urgh]) the facilitator absentmindedly was playing with an item on the desk in front. What was funnier than watching her playing with the massive phallus was the look on her face when she realised.
  • More stuff I have forgotten (though I have the notes somewhere)

We also had a “Development Exercise” splitting into groups and investigating a topic, ours was “business and the economy”. We got to spend a few afternoons traipsing round interviewing random people and doorstopping prominent and very busy people until they let us into their offices and answered our questions.

On the Friday we presented our reports back to the main group using a variety of facilitation techniques (techniques which I note none of us have dared use “in the wild” and will only ever use in a same VSO environment with people who have been through the same “don’t laugh” training).

Role play, participative exercises and (for our group) a song with rap chorus were used as techniques. A good time was had by all.

We had a long and quite serious discussion involving the country director about the level to which we were “sharing skills and changing lives” which had some interesting outcomes though I shall ponder these and put them into a different post (if at all).

On the last night we camped out at the Hardap Dam which is a massive lake and irrigation scheme feeding farms with water for many miles around. The place was eerily empty probably not helped by the crack in the dam making driving into the game park impossible (and apparently it’s too far to walk).

This leaves the game happily trapped on the other side than the humans hence we saw a few ostriches and kudu but none of the fabled rhino.

The restaurant is a bond-villan-esque or nazi-hideout affair propped above the lake with bizarre windows offering a stunning view in the day but turning into mirrors (and making it even bigger and emptier) at night.

A good time was had by all until some fool (not me!) insisted we make our own entertainments by doing displays of national culture and playing games like musical chairs (I kid you not). Actually, though I hate to admit it, it was quite fun.

Back to the campsite and made a fire (not Ray Mears so we used petrol, lighters and lots of paper).

On Saturday we came back to Windhoek (most of us, a few ventured off further south on other epic travels) and went to a party on Saturday night. It was a proper ex-pat affair and I ended up getting a lift back from the club I ended up in at 2.30 from a very nice police officer (and I wasn’t even under arrest) as we couldn’t find a taxi.

Finally arrived back in Opuwo at 10.30 on Monday night to find no water, the cockroaches in my room have been breading and growing and I didn’t have any food in at all. Pretty much back to normal then.

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