Namibia: The final chapter

It’s been 3 months since we returned to Adelaide, and sometimes I wonder if Namibia was just a dream. But our time there was a real rollercoaster, and ultimately one of the most rewarding decisions we have made as a family.

There are so many organisations that offer opportunities for individuals to volunteer overseas and people with skills in just about every industry are required. We were fortunate enough that Matt secured employment through Australian Volunteers International (AVI), which provided living and rental allowances. Maybe compared to Australian standards these may have seemed low, yet we found they were more than enough to live well and afford safe and secure accommodation.

The opportunities to develop professionally are huge. In many instances as a volunteer you may not have a whole group of senior managers or an executive leadership group to coach and mentor you, as many people would be accustomed to here in Australia. Yet, growth opportunities lie exactly in that fact. On most days you have to wear a number of hats which at times is like a nightmare but very rewarding from a professional perspective.

The constant confrontation of emotions within and around yourself, allowed us to explore our own beliefs and attitudes. It has given us opportunities to talk to our children about gender, race and religious inequalities. It has allowed us to immerse ourselves into a new culture and learn, laugh, cry at times and feel disappointed.

The lessons we have learnt from the people and projects we have worked in shall remain in our souls for a very long time.

Would we do it all again? Yep, no doubt that we would!

Returning to our “previous” life is a whole new ride in itself. It’s hard not to judge the amount of “waste,” “disguised discrimination” and “worldly ignorance” that we now encounter. It’s also very hard to find a balance again in our lives….wanting to still feel connected with the left behind projects and people while getting back into a daily routine.

Because of that we started up our very own little project, a South Australian based recycling project we call “Recycle for Change.”

We are establishing partnerships with businesses and friends who can support us with collecting recyclable items such as bottles and cans and use the proceeds to transfer to worthwhile projects overseas. Given that AU$1 is equivalent to Namibian$10, a few bottles can go a long way to changing a child’s life.

We will continue to support two organisations we worked with in Namibia – one with a focus on early childhood development and the other supporting children with a disability. We have also formed a partnership with the International Women’s Association of Namibia (IWAN) which has established governance processes to manage and distribute funds and working relationships with these two organisations.

Each quarter we will send over proceeds (no admin expenses taken) to IWAN who will distribute all funds directly to both projects.

We would love SALT Magazine readers to become involved in our initiative, for instance by collecting bottles and cans at your office, at home or by getting your local café or restaurant to donate their recycling!

For more info on the project please go onto Facebook and like Recycle for Change Australia, and contact us if you would like to support our work in Namibia.

And finally we thank SALT for publishing our updates on our experience in Namibia. Through SALT I was put in touch with a reader who visited Namibia after reading one of our articles and is now working closely with us and our projects.

Throughout the 13 months we spent in Namibia we were able to raise close to N$70,000 which were spent on infrastructure, food or resources required by the projects we worked with. This would have not been possible without the incredible support and exposure we achieved via the magazine and social media.

And for anyone wondering if they can really make a difference in the world and in someone’s life? Yes you CAN…just make sure you drag your friends and family along on your journey.


Tanja is currently living in Namibia with her husband and family. Over the next 12 months SALT Magazine readers will share the Rudd familyís experiences as Australians in Africa.

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