Penduka And Planeterra, Teaming Up In Namibia. I have been fortunate to spend time volunteering overseas in Armenia, Thailand, and Tanzania. The lesson I learned is that I received much more than I gave. It is an overused statement, but that is because it is true. While I was volunteering and attempting to “give back”, I was making genuine relationships, learning about the local culture and language, and gaining a sense of perspective on what really matters in life.
I had the opportunity to visit Penduka on the outskirts of Windhoek, the capital of Namibia. Penduka, which translates to “wake up” is a project supported by Planeterra Foundation, which in turn was founded by G Adventures founder, Bruce Poon Tip. Planeterra’s mission is supporting social enterprise, healthcare, conservation, and emergency response. Planeterra operates in 34 different countries supporting 53 social enterprises and benefits over 54,000 people. The numbers speak for themselves.
Penduka is an enclosed compound set on a small lake. And Penduka wears a lot of hats … there is a hotel, restaurant, gift shop, and workshops. While I did eat a tasty sandwich at the restaurant, my interest lay in the workshops.
Women in Namibia, like many other places around the globe, are challenged economically based upon cultural prejudices and stereotypes. This holds even truer with women who have disabilities. Penduka focuses on helping women in the community with limited education and/or physical disabilities to learn a skill and provide employment. Penduka’s goal is simple, to break the cycle of poverty.
Penduka, which was founded by a Danish woman in 1992, has created several workshops on site. The women create custom made pottery. There is a workshop that recycles old bottles and creates jewelry. And there is a large workshops designing and creating Batik textiles. Thirty women find employment at Penduka. An additional 300 women in the community are contracted for further work.
As a visitor or a guest of the hotel, you can learn and experience with the women of Penduka. You can learn how to make glass jewelry, handcraft your own embroidery, or braid a basket. You can also learn traditional Namibian drumming and dancing. And when you stay over at the hotel, in the evening the women will share centuries-old stories, passed down through the generations.
I entered the glass bead workshop and was met with a smile from a woman with a cat on her lap. She patiently and methodically slid glass beads onto a string. The beads were created from recycled glass such as a wine or beer bottles. This glass was grinded down and then heated up in a giant outdoor oven, poured into a mold to create the shape. My Penduka guide introduced me to Mary and shared with my that she is deaf. The guide also explained what a challenge it is for local women with disabilities to earn a living. Mary was able to come to Penduka, learn a trade and support herself in a welcoming environment. It was great to see a success story like this.
So whether you are on a G Adventures trip or you find yourself in Windhoek independently, make sure you make Penduka part of your visit. It is well worth your time, and you are supporting a worthy organization.
Supported by Planeterra and G Adventures.Penduka And Planeterra, Teaming Up In Namibia.