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Dear friends of YONA

 We hope this newsletter finds you in good health despite the ongoing pandemic.
Namibia has experienced a second wave in January, and a much worse third wave in June/July. Despite the challenges that lockdowns and school closures have brought, YONA has been active, and music education has continued.


Firstly, we would like to thank our generous sponsors: Stichting Horizon, RMB, through the Rand Merchant foundation holdings Trust and the National Arts Council of Namibia.
We have also received ongoing support through our Adopt-a-Muso/Patenkind project, administered by the Deutsch-Namibische Gesellschaft. The individual donors who faithfully support our more needy students every month really help us to be sustainable.

For more information about becoming a regular donor, please follow this link: .

We are also very thankful to those parents who make monthly contributions to lesson fees as their individual circumstances allow.

We have received substantial individual donations by Henk Lubberdinck, Jan Haas and Jutta Behn, for which we are profoundly grateful.


YONA opened in January with a timetable adapted to the social distancing guidelines, trying to avoid large numbers of children.


The Woodwind Department expanded with a new intake of primary and high school recorder students taught by Caroline Walters at Suiderhof Primary and Osmond Owoseb at The Bernhard Nordkamp Center (BNC). As of December 2020, two new students from BNC started with online clarinet lessons with Chrisna Smith as teacher. Clarinet, oboe and flute classes continue to be taught online. We are grateful to have teachers like Chrisna Smith (clarinet), Lesley Stansell (oboe) and Victoria Romann (flute) who deliver quality teaching despite the challenges that sometimes arise from teaching online. An exciting addition to the Woodwind Department is the inception of the YONA Woodwind Trio, comprised of three of our more advanced students, namely Anna Verchusa (flute), Christof Beiler (oboe), and Osho Malua (clarinet). As the woodwind department continues to grow, we look forward to seeing the development of more and fuller woodwind ensembles.
On March 12 and 13, the Woodwind Department had its first workshop for the year. The focus of the workshop, ‘Performance Prep: Preparing the Stage for Success’, aimed to equip the students with insights and skills on how to prepare and present themselves on stage. Under the tutelage of Eli Gentle, Carina Strydom, Osmond Owoseb and Caroline Walters, the woodwind students prepared ensemble works that culminated in a performance at Beautiful Kidz. We are looking forward to the next woodwind workshop, when our online teachers of South Africa would also be able to join us!
Following the May school holidays, the Woodwind department quickly started gaining momentum. A dozen recorder students enrolled at BNC, a testament to the growing popularity of YONA’s classes within the Katutura community. Carina Strydom also joined our forces as a part-time flute teacher. The flute students were thrilled to transition from online to face-to-face learning and welcomed Ms Strydom with great enthusiasm.


Three new students joined the piano department with Caroline Walters as teacher. On April 9, all the piano students showcased their skills at a YONA student concert.

In January Ronaldo Kandume joined the YONA staff as violin and theory teacher.
A new bunch of violin beginners became part of YONA; bringing the total of strings students to 31 children. Other strings teachers are Gretel Coetzee, Irmgard Rannersmann, Eike Coetzee and Morten Sauer. We sadly had to say goodbye to Morten Sauer, who had to return to Germany after three years in Namibia. Morten has given so much of his time, resources, energy and love to YONA as a cello teacher, and he will be greatly missed!
However, we are fortunate that Wojtek Majevski has agreed to become our new cello teacher, and we hope that many new cello students would be able to join YONA under his guidance.
On 12 and 13 March, the Strings students joined the woodwinds for a session dealing with stage presentation, etiquette and deportment. The rest of the workshop was separate from the strings, and we were able to work intensively over two days. The children had the opportunity to work with conductor Alex Fokkens for one session, and also received a visit from the Ambassador of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, H.E. Omar Berroteran Parredes. We were looking forward to many concerts and events in the second half of the year.


Unfortunately, shortly after holidays, we had to take a month’s break when numbers were at their highest, new Covid restrictions came into place, schools closed, and many staff members and parents were ill.  
However, YONA has been active again since the end of June; giving our teachers and learners the option to choose between individual in-person lessons, online lessons and video tutorials. This is in response to a plea from the Ministry of Education that the community and caregivers should assist in caring for children while schools are closed. Participation in music lessons at YONA provides an element of psycho-social support to our children during these challenging times.
We feel that music lessons give the children a goal and purpose for the day, motivation to stay off the streets and screens, to build their self-esteem and prevent depression. 
Our biggest concern is for those children who live in informal settlements, who don’t have access to technology for online lessons.
Fortunately, BNC and Beautiful Kidz in Katutura have also agreed to open their centres for music lessons. Our teachers have decided to visit the children there and also in the Havana settlement, rather than have the children travel to lessons by taxi. (to avoid unnecessary virus exposure)
As Covid numbers are coming down significantly now, we have returned to our schedule from earlier in the year; coinciding with the reopening of schools on 4 August.


We have also used the lockdown time to renovate and move to a new venue in Windhoek West. This venue is much more central and accessible than Suiderhof, and it has more space for lessons, a big room for orchestra rehearsals, office, and safe storage space. Unfortunately, there is no hall there, so we’ll have to source other venues for events and concerts.
We are in the process of negotiating a 50 year lease on the same property, so that once we are able to rally enough financial support, we can build a nice hall, as there is ample space on the site.


More than a year ago we heard the news that the Karlsruhe Waldorf School from Germany wanted to donate string instruments to YONA. Enrico Palascino, an old friend of YONA, managed to arrange collection, cataloguing, export permits, packaging and shipping. 

Because of the pandemic, the project took months more than planned, but finally the instruments arrived in Windhoek! The Goethe Institute kindly sponsored air freight for these valuable and delicate instruments. 

As we head into the second semester, we hope for more stability for our students, and we are looking forward to seeing amazing progress.
Thank you so much for your kind interest and support.
We wish you good health, happiness and success in all your endeavours!
Kind regards,

Gretel Coetzee
Copyright © 2021 Yona Namibia, All rights reserved.

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