Donning their birthday suits
Loving what nature gave them
28 November 2019 | Local News
Violence against women and children is a national and global problem. In light of this, three Windhoek ladies – Brigitte Marder-Scheid (63), Frauke Kreitz (52) and Conny von Dewitz (48) – have embarked on a unique project: Namibia Nature Girls.
The book, featuring the three ladies as nature intended them, is now available for sale on local bookshelves. The aim is to show that women and girls, no matter how they look, are just the way they are. “Rape is a crime. What happened to her or you is not her or your fault,” they say. What’s more, all proceeds of the book go towards a children’s home in Katutura where victims of violence have found a safe place.
“One day while talking, we discovered that we are very frustrated at the way women are seen as sex objects. So, we decided to do something that shows that we are just women with wrinkles and all,” Brigitte says. “We also decided that the money raised through sales would be donated to an orphanage in Katutura that helps girls who have experienced sexual trauma.
“It doesn’t matter that we have cellulite, wrinkles and scars. It’s the person behind what you see on the outside that counts. Be proud of what you look like and who you are,” she says.
The idea of creating awareness in this way began two years ago. Brigitte was born in Munich where she completed her training as a nurse. She came to Namibia for the first time with UNTAG in 1989.
“I travelled across Namibia for work and I remember often thinking that it is disappointing that not everyone could see the wonderful country. So, I established my tour agency Pasjona Safaris & Car Hire in 1993 and became the first woman to offer camping tours here.”
She drove the vehicle, pitched tents and cooked for guests. “I have seen many parts of Namibia and feel that with the book, I can give something back to the women and girls of the country,” she says.
According to Conny, initially there were six women and girls who wanted to be part of the book. “Unfortunately, three of them decided against it because they were worried about what their family, work, colleagues, friends and the community would think of them; that they would be seen in a bad light rather than people seeing the positives behind the book.
“However, it is far worse that women in Namibia cannot walk safely through the streets alone at night; that children are not safe; and that child rapes are on the rise,” Conny says.
The book’s purpose is to show women and young girls that no matter how old they are or how they look, they can be happy in their own skin and with their own life, she adds.
Conny was born and bred in Windhoek and studied interior design in Cape Town. “I worked at various places and did several jobs until I started at Pasjona four years ago. I love travelling and planning the best possible trip for guests to experience our wonderful country.”
She says that she is just like any other woman. “Accept us as we are and allow us the freedom to be who we are. There is a lot of pressure on girls to look like models. But we all cannot be models, skinny or beautiful. This doesn’t mean that we have to hide or be ashamed, nor does it mean that women, regardless of what they look like to any man, deserves to be raped.”
The ladies say they don’t expect to get rich or famous from the book. “We just want to raise money for House iNAMi, show that women are just women and shake the community up a bit. We want to show that you can look at a woman without getting any other thoughts.
“There are tribes in Namibia like the Himbas, Zembas and San who are not dressed from head to toe. They dress according to their traditions and culture, and not to be seen as sexual objects. ”
According to Frauke, it is important to create awareness amongst women that they should support and encourage each other.
Frauke was also born in Windhoek and grew up here. She is very environmentally conscious and has been working in the tourism industry all her life. “We decided on the title ‘Namibia Nature Girls’ because beauty can be seen in the smallest things. The book is not only about women without clothes, but about Namibia’s natural beauty. That is why there are many nature pictures included in the book. Also, there aren’t just pictures of the three of us, but also of San and Himba women.”
The children’s home in Katutura was founded by the German NGO Wadadee Cares and the Especially Namibia Trust. iNAMi means love in one of Namibia’s oldest languages.
Sheila Musa is the house mother who cares for eight children aged five to 15 and gives them the opportunity to grow up in a safe environment. iNAMi strives to improve children’s quality of life and improve their future. Many of the children have been through some sort of trauma.
Wadadee Cares was founded in 2015 by Lena Palm.
Palm, who was born in Germany, did social support work at an orphanage in Katutura for six months before returning to Germany to begin her studies in social sciences. “Six months after I started my studies in Germany, I sat in class thinking that I could now be in Namibia and be doing something meaningful with my life. Now I’m sitting in a classroom wasting my time. Then and there I stopped my studies and returned to Namibia,” she says.
Wadadee means “all of us” in Damara. “We adjusted it a bit and translated it as ‘for everyone, everyone is welcome, everyone can help’,” Palm said.
“The book is in German because we are German and found it difficult to get hold of poems in English or Afrikaans. However, we hope to publish another book in future which will represent all the population groups of Namibia as well,” Brigitte says.
“We hope that if we create another book, more women and women of all ages, races and languages will be involved so that we can all create awareness for all women in Namibia,” Conny adds.
The book will be available at The Shed market taking place on 14 and 15 December, as well as at Windhoeker Buchhandlung.