Namibia: Youth Development


In addition to the central components of all CPS Summer Fellowships, the experience in Namibia is a unique opportunity to work with the community in Omaruru, a small town in central Namibia.

Fellows spend the first few weeks with youth and teachers in local schools and community organizations to learn about the health, economic and educational needs of the youth.

With a strong understanding of community goals, Fellows work with partners to support activities and develop educational workshops that best match the Fellow's skill set as well as community interest. 

This may involve health, business or art education, all with the aim of increasing youth participation in economic and social sectors.

Examples include:

Health and Life Skills Education: Through workshops and activities, Fellows will work with youth to develop positive strategies to address challenging life circumstances, specifically related to healthy lifestyles, HIV/AIDS awareness or girls’ empowerment.

Arts and Culture Education: Through art and/or drama, Fellows will engage youth in vital social and educational topics while enhancing their artistic and creative abilities. 

Business and Job Skill Education: Working with youth leaders, Fellows will support youth interested in
business by providing educational workshops on proposal development, interview skills and career counseling.

Fellows stay with host families.

This 8-week experience (June-July 2020) is fully-funded by a generous gift from Jim Heston '70. Immunizations are recommended; these costs are the responsibility of the Fellow.

Fellowship Director in Namibia

Mike Tjirare
In conjunction with CPS, the Fellowship is directed in Omaruru by Mike Tjirare. Mike is a long-time resident of Omaruru with many years of experience working in education and community development. He was an elementary school teacher, worked for the Ministry of Youth and Sport for more than a decade and most recently served as the Erongo Regional Councillor. He served as a counterpart for a Peace Corps Volunteer from 1996-1998 and organized rural homestays for U.S. students at Center for Global Education in 2005-2006.

Overview of Namibia

Namibia is a large and sparsely populated country on the south-west coast of Africa. It’s twice the size of California with only 2.3 million people. It’s also an ethnically diverse place with over 13 different ethnic groups. While there are many languages spoken, English is the official language.

Namibia became a German colony in 1884. In 1904 the Herero and Nama people rose in rebellion but were defeated with great brutality. In 1915, during the First World War the South Africans captured Namibia. After the war, former German colonies were given to the allied powers and called mandates. Namibia was made a British mandate and was to be administered by South Africa. In 1966 SWAPO (South West Africa People's Organization) began a 25 year struggle long in Namibia and finally gained independence in 1990.

Since independence, Namibia has been politically stable. It has a solid infrastructure, its press is among Africa’s most free and its farming, mining and fishing industries continues to grow.

However, several challenges constrain progress. Although Namibia has been independent for 26 years, it is still one of the world’s highest levels of income disparity. Apartheid limited education and job opportunities and the ramifications are still felt today. The overall unemployment rate in Namibia is over 50 percent, it faced one of the world’s worst HIV epidemics, and its education system remains flawed.

Students will be staying in Omaruru, a small town in the Erongo region. It is located about 2.5 hours northeast of the capital of Windhoek and has a population of about 12,000 people, mostly from the Herero and Damara ethnic groups. Similar to many towns in Namibia and South Africa, the history of apartheid can still felt. The center of town is well established with stores, banks and restaurants, but the majority of the people live in Ozondje, the former township which is located a few kilometers from the town center. In recent years, Omaruru is has a growing reputation as an arts and crafts center.