Former Teachers & Volunteers

Uschi Fahrbach – Board Member (retired)

Uschi joined MYO first as an enthusiast supporter and later as a Board Member. Uschi is a local business owner in Swakopmund and she has contributed her time, energy and resources to MYO for many years. Uschi retired from the Board a few years ago to focus on her business and family but she is fondly remembered in the MYO family and we are thankful for her support and contributions.

Pam Lowry Valerio

Home Country: USA
Time: 2005-2007, Peace Corps (assigned to MYO)
Field of Work:
Music department – dancing, singing, percussion, drums, recorders

I have fond memories of chaperoning field trips to Etosha and Uschi’s farm, dropping off learners at the end of the day with Miss Shannon in the MYO combi, and making ham and cheese brötchens. I still think about all the hugs and smiles from the grade 4’s to the grade 7’s!
A lot has changed for me in the last 6 years. I lived and taught music and choir in New York City and Chicago. I got married to a wonderful man named Jose, and in April 2013 we welcomed a sweet little boy to our family. His name is Amaury David. We first lived in Barrow, Alaska, which is the most northern town in all of the United States! We then moved to South Australia where my husband will work as a family doctor, and I continued to take care of Amaury.

I often think about how fortunate I was to spend 2 years working with such loving children. Seeing all that MYO has become makes me very proud!

Lindsay and Jeremy Hoover

Home country: Colorado Springs, CO, USA
Time: 2007-2009
Field of work: Management

When we think of our students from MYO, we are genuinely honored that we were, and are, able to be a part of these students’ lives. Our desire to see these students reach their full potential encouraged us to create the Benediction Scholarship, which now provides up to N$3500/year to help fund MYO alumni’s way through the best high schools in town.

Some of the students we taught are now in high school, or beyond, and through sporadic Facebook and e-mail contact, we have been so excited to see how many of them are graduating from good high schools, attending universities in Namibia and abroad (e.g. Russia and Malaysia), and getting good scholarships to help them with this.
Since leaving MYO, we have been living in Colorado Springs, CO, where Lindsay has been teaching Special Education and ESL, while Jeremy has been teaching Social Studies. However, we now live in Arusha, Tanzania, with our two kids where we joined the International School of Moshi’s community.

Alexis Hillyard

Home country: Alberta, Canada
Time: 2007
Field of work: Maths

My name is Alexis Hillyard and I currently work at the University of Alberta in the Faculty of Education. I taught grade 5 and 6 at MYO during the 2007 school year, and the learners at MYO taught me more than I could have ever taught them. What a spectacular, vibrant group! One of my favourite memories has to be spending time with the Maths Club. We would meet once a week and do fun maths problems and explore different types of questions. I remember the 2007 MYO Math Masters competition, which featured MYO learners competing against two other schools. We had a maths relay in the courtyard, and everyone was super hyped about maths! I was so proud of our team as we took the win!

Joris Uppelschoten

Home country: Netherlands
Time of voluntary service: 2008
Field of work: management

The enthusiasm of the children and of course the other volunteers made me really happy to help solve all the ‘little problems’ you encounter in a school/project like this.
My wife was country manager Maersk for Namibia at the time, so that is how I got in touch with the project, as Maersk donated the containers and we went over to paint some floors at MYO. I still think it was one of the best experiences I have to contribute a little to such a grand project. Applause for the board, who keeps it running!

I am from the Netherlands, and after Namibia we moved to Tanzania, Denmark and are now living in Warsaw, Poland, where I take care of our one year old twins and our 5 year old daughter.

Naethra Sreekrishna

Home country: USA
Time of voluntary service: 2008 – 2011
Field of work: teacher, interim manager, trainer, grant writer

I worked at MYO from January 2008 through July 2011. Some of my fondest memories come from that first year when MYO moved to its permanent location. We spent that first term teaching in open containers that had no walls, no doors, and no desks. We used bookshelves and curtains to separate classrooms. Honestly, I have countless wonderful (and stressful!) memories of my time at MYO… field trips to Etosha, Gobabeb, and Cheetah Conservation Fund, lunchtime conversations with learners, high school application season, grade 3 recruitment, four annual spelling bees, prize-givings, MYO idols, etc.

I feel so grateful that I got to play a role in its expansion into the impressive facility it is today. Equally as important, my time at MYO has guided my own professional trajectory. Since leaving, I have earned my Masters in Social Work back in the US. I am now a licensed social worker in New York City providing in-home family therapy to families impacted by the child welfare system. No matter the time or distance, MYO remains very close to my heart.

Willy Kaestner

Home country: Germany
Time of voluntary service: August 2010 – July 2011
Field of work: Sports

I was very impressed by all the MYO students. It was fascinating to see how motivated these kids were to become great achievers in all kind of areas. Getting up in the early morning, preparing food for the family, going to their regular school, coming straight to MYO in the afternoon and to sit down later at home again to do their homework, while they still help out at the household.
In the modern world many people would start complaining about Burnouts with such a demanding workload, but the kids at MYO always have a smile on their face no matter how challenging life can be and still appreciate the opportunities which are given to them. Anytime I exhausted when I have to study hard for my exams, I just remember these kids and think about what they are capable of.
Since October 2012 I’m studying electrical engineering at the KIT in Karlsruhe/Germany. Next to my studies, I’m part of the university group “Engineers without Borders”, currently working on a project to support a school in Uganda with electricity through solar power.

Catarina Baggio

Home country: Germany
Time of voluntary service: July 2011 – December 2012, MarchApril 2014
Field of work: Music, Library, Office

When I came to MYO I realized there wasn’t a place on earth I would rather like to spend my year abroad than at this school, with these outstanding and hard-working talents and such a wonderful staff. During my first months, I didn’t even like weekends for I enoyed my work much.
Because I loved everything so much, I extended my voluntary service for another five months to work in the office. When I had to leave my MYO family again I was very sad but promised to come back and visit again. It took me more than a year to live up to my promise and there has not been a day I haven’t thought about Namibia. I returned in March 2014 for a month to help out in the office while the manager was on maternity leave and I was so impressed by all the changes on the grounds but the great MYO spirit remained untouched. In 2016 I managed again to travel to Namibia and brought along two friends to show them the beautiful landscape, people, and, naturally, MYO. During that time, I also had the possibility to visit MYO for almost two weeks – it’s still great!
In Germany I study business administration, currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Accounting, but my dream is to return to Namibia one day and I am sure I wouldn’t have that dream if not for MYO. It was one of the best times of my life and I will never forget what MYO has given me.

Liesje Clement

Home country: Sydney, Australia
Time of voluntary service: June – October 2012
Field of work: Newsletter / Homepage / Library and Graphic Design

I was in Namibia with my husband who was working on the Australian movie Mad Max. I felt so lucky discovering MYO and being given the opportunity by Vera Leech to volunteer there. Life in Swakopmund became a whole lot more interesting. I discovered a very well run little school in the middle of Mondesa doing excellent work for a bunch of very enthusiastic, lively and talented kids.
Highlights were the day to day interactions with the kids in the library, the photo shoot for the posters (everyone was very excited having their photo’s taken) and the very entertaining end of year concert.
I was blown away by all the talent. Thank you MYO for giving kids in the area the extra skills and opportunities and for giving me an opportunity to be part of it. It was the highlight of my 8 months in Africa.

Marilyn Nichols

Home country: Park City, Utah, USA
Time of voluntary service: 2013 – 2014
Field of work: Library

I came to Swakopmund with my husband who worked for Rossing Uranium for two years. I volunteered at MYO in the library and also was instrumental in getting books into MYO library from the container sent from America. I found the children at MYO to be some of the most motivated and pleasant children I have encountered. My daughter, Marla, also volunteered during one summer and we still talk about our times at MYO. It was both an eye-opening and fulfilling experience. I sincerely feel that this is a worthwhile endeavor and hope that the students can turn their addtional education into a successful future for them personally and for Namibia.

Marieke von Elert

Home country: Germany
Time of voluntary service: September 2014 –
September 2015
Field of work: sports

My name is Marieke, I’ve been part of MYO during my voluntary work in 2014/2015.
Originally, I am from Germany, but I spent one year of my life with MYO where I mainly was responsible for the sport lessons.
Right now, I am studying at university, often thinking about the time I’ve spent with the learners at MYO. What I like about this school is, that it connects two major things: MYO provides education, and it fills it with love. The children come there every day to learn and study, but it is not only an institution, it also is a family. And that is what makes MYO unique.

Ilanda Dixon Hifitikeko

Home country: Swakopmund, Namibia
Time of service: 2007 -2016
Field of work: Teacher (Reading, Maths, Library, Life Skills)

I was born and raised in Swakopmund and began working at MYO in early 2007. I enjoy working with children in need of building their literacy skills. I have taught Reading, Maths, Library Skills, and Life Skills predominantly to grades 4, 5 and 6 (2007 to August 2010). I was happy to return after my marriage when I moved back to Swakopmund and re-joined MYO in Jan 2012. I teach Maths to Gr 4, Reading to Grade 5 and 6 and Life Skills to all the other grades.

Are you a past volunteer who is not shown on this site? Please just contact us, provide a short biography and a picture of yourself and we would love to add you!

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Mondesa Youth Opportunities is a registered trust in Namibia and an IRS 501(c)3 approved non-profit in the United States. MYO relies exclusively on donations from individuals or businesses to sustain our operations.

MYO operates extremely lean and with complete transparency. We post our P&L on this site and you will see that approximately 98% of our expenditures are spent right at our school on goods and services that directly serve our core mission. We do not reimburse overseas board members for trips and we do not pay for professional services out of donated funds except for our bookkeeping services in Namibia, which is a requirement to maintain our trust status in the country.

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