I have found a place of reflection, a place to learn and grow, learn from others and face challenges I never thought I would over come. This place is in East Africa,Tanzania. To be in another’s culture is to be able to realize your own, as I fear many people in my country, still seeAfricaas a place of danger, backwardness and despair, it is much more then they project. I can say from my short time of four weeks over a time of two years the thing that brings me back are the people I meet. People such as Theresa Grant, a women who has awaken to herself her destiny. She is the mother of not her own, but to orphans that have been lost to the tragedy of HIV/AIDS or abandonment by their own families. Yet these children have been given a special opportunity, a chance of empowerment by education. Education is the greatest gift a child can receive, while in the states is it sometimes taken for granted education will come and will be a major factor in a young child’s live, inAfricamany children, thought not orphans do not receive adequate schooling and may not ever attend school. In light of this situation, the children in Theresa’s care are able to attend a private school, where they have a much higher chance and indeed do excel academically and socially. Already out of 22 total orphans, 6 are in primary school and 3 more will graduate from primary school, this year. The long term goal though is to get every child through college, which would be a reversible to where the children are coming from. Out from small villages, farming communities, where life is to be a slave to the land. And of course sending 22 kids to private school and college will not be easy, though with the help of volunteers from around the world, we climb mountains in a spirit of support, I climbed Kilimanjaro, the roof ofAfricato pay for the orphan’s school fees.
More on the children themselves, they steal your heart when you first meet them, with nothing, no video games, TV or material things, they play. All it takes is a soccer ball and the day flies by. They are all smiles and warm hugs, laughter, curious, kind and like you imagine children to be, seem almost normal, yet have no family to bring joy to. They are strong and in love with life and whoever comes to visit.
I remember my first night inTanzania, I arrived jet legged and was driven by a quiet man that I failed to strike up a conversation with. I arrived at the main house and meet Theresa, greeting someone in Swahili can be confusing, as I was after flying for so long. I was taken to my host families house and before I knew it I was sitting across from two people I was not sure knew very much English and that I knowing nothing of Swahili. I was served soda and cake, very odd to me to be having at around midnight. As I was eating feeling nervous and not quite sure what I had gotten myself into, I happen to look around the home of the host family. My eye’s fixed on a painting of Bob Marley smoking a large joint, “well,” I said, “ I guess you enjoy Bob Marley. For about an hour afterward, I engaged in discussion with my host father about Tanzanian music taste, international politics and his own views onAfrica. So began my experience inAfrica, little did I know that my morning would consist of a symphony of chickens calling to each other and the booming of American rap music.
My idea ofAfricahas grown and fluctuated in my time in hear. Africans are just like you and I, with families and beautiful children. Working amazing hard to provided a life that most of us take for given.
In Africa life is the opposite ofAmerica, there is real community, life is slowed down and seems to be 30 years in the past. Yet for a young American like myself, I have lost feelings of strong anxiety that I feel inAmerica. Life I feel is so fast, at times we are too busy to care for one another, relationships seem hollow or meaningless, strangers are everywhere, an image based society with cites built for cars and not people, in Africa we get a feeling of what life once was. I am saying that to be in Africa can bring a kind of peace to a busy stressed out life, where day to day living is truly possible and how much money we have and the things we own are not as powerful influences on our lives or how we judge others. Though I have only been in Africa two different times and now have some understanding of what it is like to be a Mexican illegal immigrant in the USA, I think I see Africa in my future.