Sunday, August 17, 2008

Cultural Disparity

Although we have not yet received our assignment (We are still waiting. Patiently :P), we do know some things about the area we will likely be serving in. There are snakes. Not garter snakes, but the snakes of your nightmares-Vipers, Cobras, and Pythons (yeah, can't wait). Ebola isn't some exotic disease- it kills your relative, your neighbor. There is no running water, no electricity, no air conditioning (it's on the equator), no antibiotics. AIDs orphan roam the streets, and 12-year-olds are heads of households because an entire generation has been decimated by the disease. Malaria, polio, and other diseases that have long been cured kill people, because they can't afford vaccines or medicine. Life expectancy is 49 years for men and 51 years for women, compared to 75 years for ment and 80 years for women here in the U.S. There are violent rebel groups, sex slavery, and child soldiers. People literally die every day from malnutrition.

It is a world Americans can scarcely comprehend. Even America's poorest citizens seem wealthy when compared to East Africa's average citizen. People here earn an average of approximately $900 per year- that's about $17/week, or $2.50/day. Could you live on that? Could you raise a family on that? Some of the most basic needs, like dental hygiene (and by that I mean toothbrush and toothpaste), are unheard of. If you make $17 a week, buying toothbrushes for your family of 5 most likely isn't your priority. A friend of mine began The Muunoo Smile Project to educate about and perform dental hygiene in Africa; it's a fascinating operation, and if you would like to know more, you can visit her website at

Our goal will be to live as much as possible as the native citizens.

This blog will hopefully serve not only to update our family, friends, and supporters on how our work is going, but also to illuminate the East African culture.


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