Mark Klein Walt, an astronomer at Radboud University Nijmegen, worked on a telescope in Namibia to photograph a black hole. But the pandemic forced him to adjust his priorities. The country has been hit hard and receives little international support. Klein Walt decided to help.
“We sent four ventilators to Namibia. They were generously donated by the Radboud UMC Foundation,” says Klein Walt in Radio NOS 1 News. “I hope this is the first step to help people out a little bit, because the stories I hear through colleagues and friends are really touching. They tell you that people from their own circle are breaking down. I thought the most moving message was one from the president from the university, who said they lost eight Staff in two weeks. He said, ‘I can’t do anything. There are no more vaccinations.’
Not only does the country suffer from a shortage of vaccines, it has hardly any medical equipment, aid, and oxygen. “You should be lucky to end up in the ICU if you get sick, but the chance of survival is very slim,” says Klein Walt, who would like more tools and vaccines to go into the country. “I would like the Netherlands to do for Suriname or Cape Verde, for the same to happen for Namibia. Because the situation is very dangerous now and we have a relationship with Namibia for more than 350 years. Since our VOC period it has had branches.”
He is not going to the country himself at the moment. “People have something else on their minds right now than building a telescope. But it’s also impossible to travel because of the whole COVID-19 situation.”