Stories from Namibia
- First Volunteer Returns after the Pandemic
When the COVID-19 pandemic started, Peace Corps evacuated Volunteers worldwide, including Crissy Hendrickson, who had been an education Volunteer at Kaguni Central Combined School in northern Namibia. Sadly, Crissy was evacuated just as she started supporting the library, which at the time was used by only a few learners and teachers because it only had 360 books with little management or organization.
As Crissy waited for Peace Corps to open back up, she would think back to the school where she worked and the library she had promised to help develop. Eventually, as time continued to pass, she held onto the idea of that library more strongly and it became central towards motivating her to return. She says: “When I finally made it back to Kaguni school after two years, so many emotions of gratitude, joy and loss overwhelmed me. COVID had destroyed and changed so much, but the school library was still there waiting on me to help bring it to life.” It took over two months of collaboration, hard work, and input from both teachers and students, but they finally relaunched the library in early September 2022. Crissy trained library prefects to organize and manage the library, as well as motivate other learners to use the library. In August, less than 25 books were checked out but by the end of September that number had jumped to over 150 books borrowed.
After they started the library program when Crissy was reinstated, they went from having zero books borrowed in some months to averaging 100 books borrowed in a week. Initially, there were also less than 100 books available for learners, but during her time at the school over 200 books were donated.
She concludes: “I can't describe how gratified and honored I was to see students literally lined up waiting their turn to get something to read. To me, this exemplified the spirit of the Peace Corps and is why I wanted so badly to come back.”