At Samsitu Campsite we have beds, which importantly means that, despite having to get up in the night to drive back 35 km to where Emma stopped the day before, we don’t have to pack up the tent. Win. We are still up long before dawn, but get stuck at the padlocked entrance to the campsite. Doh! Mike and Woocash disappear to find someone to open it. I worry vaguely about crocodiles and snakes and the embarrassment of waking people in the night. Finally, we are on the road, it is empty except for a few people walking in the dark. I am struck by the silence.
As the sun rises higher in the sky more and more people start wending their way to school and to work. At breakfast, as soon as we get our porridge out, children come running. In a rush, we pack up our food and drive round the corner, where we can eat in peace in the car. But there is something I can’t put my finger on about this. We are running and hiding from children!
Later, whilst Emma is running and we are settled at a police roadblock, ready to go through together, I get chatting to a teacher who explains that we are in a very poor area and points out that many of the bins at rest points along the road are empty because children will scavenge for whatever they can. I remember how some children gasped in wonderment when they saw all our toilet paper. As a team, we have decided that we should not give away food and money and definitely no sweets. I’m against giving away sweets but I, and other members of the team, struggle with not giving away food to hungry children. It doesn’t seem right. Yes, it may only help them for that meal and it can create a culture of dependency but what are the alternatives. The SEED Project, one of the charities we are raising money for, works with communities to help them find long term sustainable solutions to their problems, this is a positive cycle, where communities better their situations and also increase their capability and belief that they can solve future problems for themselves. But there is no SEED here and we have to make a decision to do the run and hopefully raise money or, to stop and stay and do real long term work – that’s not what team members have signed up to do. I don’t even ask but it sits uncomfortably with me. I do, however, contact The SEED Project and encourage them to expand to this part of Namibia. If you know of a charity working in this region please post about them in the comments below.
Then Emma and Mike arrive and disrupt my thoughts and we are off through a police roadblock, where Emma is treated as a celebrity. The police are wonderfully friendly and call after us, “All of Namibia is proud of you.” I think Namibia may well say the same about them. The police made a good, professional, friendly impression on us.
I join Emma for her last couple of kms of the day as we enter Rundu, attracting friendly waves and shouts. At the finishing point, Emma stretches and a small group of children copy her movements – at least we can teach them this concept.
Rundu itself is a hot, dusty, busy town, with large supermarkets and fuel stations. We have 36 hours of shopping, cleaning, repairing and intermittent connection to the internet. Emma is happy to be on a break. I am hoping to see a hippo at the campsite.
Total distance run by Emma: 899 km, 558 miles