Existing Member?

Terrestrial Wanderer In life's journey Faith is nourishment, Virtuous deeds are a shelter, Wisdom is the light by day and Right mindfulness is the protection by night. Buddha

So what DO you do with this....

USA | Tuesday, 12 February 2008 | Views [1631]

So some final thoughts on the trip.


Upon my return many folks said-“did you have fun”…This was by far the hardest question to answer-well it was a great life changing trip though fun is for a vacation. It was really mind & spirit altering. Humbling...and I do not say that lightly. After the long journey home-which really beat me more than going-and as I adjusted I realized that I was back in my world. How quickly and easily one could put this African adventure and it’s images as well as realities behind so they are forgotten without difficulty. Amsterdam brought the reality home because I had everything there-including restaurants, beer, "soft" drugs and even legal prostitutes (I was only interested in beer trust me). My how priorities can change from water, food, shelter...Let me share some final thoughts…


I am back- not sleeping under a mosquito net-or worrying if I will take my malaria pills<but I still have 2 to go> (noting that 300 people are diagnosed each day with malaria, it kills 3000 kids each day and more than 1 million per year-we worry about West Nile virus but do not understand Malaria)-most Africans do not have nets or pills. When I first brushed my teeth in Amsterdam-I realized I did not have a "bottle of water" to rinse-how we take clean water for granted-cant water your lawn cuz of lack of rain-when is the last time you carried a full 5 gallon bucket for 2 hours just to provide some water to your family-unclean water by our standards-I do not measure up and this is the daily quest for most Tanzanians. Next time you are in your giant grocery remember that choice is not everywhere-in Tanzania refrigeration is minimal and things like ice cream (or any frozen item) a rarity-and which flavor of Ben and Jerry’s did you want? We have free elections-but look at Kenya and remember that could be Obama and Hillary supporters if things were different. Kenya is a neighbor to Tanzania-think about being afraid not because of race but because of where you are from such as a village, city or tribe. We complain about health insurance-at least we have health insurance and good, no excellent, healthcare. If you spent 14 days somewhere and only saw one ambulance and no police cars-what goes through your mind….there is no 911. Trust me people it is not that free of injury or illness. I have not discussed the issue of AIDS-treatment is free-do you think the cocktails of drugs are available? No-over 6% has HIV, there are many orphans as a result-and there are barriers to transmission prevention such as the religious positions that do not allow condom usage-for pregnancy reasons-the world was made because folks do the dirty deed-there are no shortage of babies-maybe condom use could be viewed for safe sex rather than as a contraceptive? Present Bush arrives Feb 15 about to promote the AIDS efforts-this is great but until we deal with the transmission issue we will not make a dent in my humble opinion.


 Access to cash, wealth, material items do not equate to quality of life. Tanzanians have a sense of purpose-a way of being-they were awesome friendly people. I never felt in danger or afraid (except when visiting the potty behind the jeep on safari-but lions will do that..)The average income was around $300 per year and a community rehab person makes around $1200 a year-need a raise? There are few cars and many walk 2 or more hours to work….and they work a full day. Karatu was one of the most beautiful agricultural places I saw-fruits and veggies are abundant-folks are food rich and cash poor. I saw no person with an intellectual disability mostly physical disabilities-this leaves one to wonder…when asked they are the hidden many. Many people believing that a birth such as this is a curse or punishment-but I guess many do not survive. There are 2 infant deaths to every 10 births-while we have done well preserving life....Those that do live-we heard stories of individuals chained to their homes-societies system is just not prepared to support this-it sounds outrageous or shocking. Not trying to be callous but it is what it is-we are trying to change a word-"retarded" they are in a greater struggle.

I thought initially that Tanzanians were the best dressed folks-nice shirts, coats, slacks-in many cases these are my/your old clothes bundled and bailed-sent to Africa-resold cheap. The result of that nice donation…there is no need for clothes manufacturing industry which creates jobs and an economic outcome as long as the western world can cast off it’s stained and tired garments. When you give 80 kids used shoes and they act like it is Christmas-you really have to wonder what your material values are… Did you know there is one internet pipeline that surrounds Africa-just off the coast-there is a need to build more to Asia but Africa is technologically deprived.


Ouch-I could go on…these are my humble personal observations. But I asked myself shortly after arriving to Tanzania and for the last 5 days-“what DO you do with a trip like this”? Don made an interesting observation early on which resonated-many come and want to go back and live in poverty, give up worldly possessions etc-what does that do for the average Tanzanian? Ha nothing. As I learned about Tanzania and met the people I realized this was a country in development-raw, emerging-still on the edge of all the well meaning colony builders that traded African nations  like we traded baseball cards in the past. Around Tanzania there is still great strife, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda etc-but Tanzania has constructed a plan that appears to unify. They have great leadership-and are moving beyond the reputation for corruption to a system of transparency. These are observations having been with a member of Parliament for much of our trip but also reading some news article while there-free press is amazing- they are moving in the right direction.


 So “what DO you do with this”? Well you focus on the mission-capacity building-can we get 5 young people to come over and return to help move services for the disabled forward? We have selected 5 but we need to commit to them to help develop and support them-and others. Economic Empowerment-we did not make as much progress as I had hoped-but this is a longer term effort perhaps? Evolution earlier than the sheltered workshop-the area did not strike me as business savvy in many regards<and I do not mean that as it sounds>-so we maybe can help. Only great buzz words unless we stay on this issue. So “what DO you do with this”? You realize you are not Gandhi or Mother Theresa but somehow can still be the change you want to see in the world-it dawned on me as I was flying back from Amsterdam…even a small pebble when thrown in a still pond will make a ripple-changing that pond-and even if for only a moment-the pond is changed.  One must question whether they are the pebble or the pond.

If you want to know how you can help-email me -there are some simple ways. Thanks for allowing me to share my thoughts on this journey.



Tags: Philosophy of travel

Add your comments

(If you have a travel question, get your Answers here)

In order to avoid spam on these blogs, please enter the code you see in the image. Comments identified as spam will be deleted.

About globalmindsights

Where I've been

My trip journals

See all my tags 



Travel Answers about USA

Do you have a travel question? Ask other World Nomads.