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On the Road "The purpose of life lies at the intersection of the heart's deepest desires, the mind's keenest talents, and the world's greatest needs."

Seeds of Change

SOUTH AFRICA | Friday, 6 November 2009 | Views [1062] | Comments [1]

It has begun. Little by little, the youth of Askham, a tiny village in the South African Kalahari, are making a difference not only in their community but also in themselves. In just a couple short weeks, we have started preparations for a massive food garden at the local school, have established the Kalahari Nature Club (complete with a democratically elected committee), and have started a canned planting project for the endangered camelthorn tree. Though it will be an uphill battle getting the notoriously lazy young adults involved, the elders and children have jumped on board with enthusiasm and determination. It's almost as if they've been craving something to do - not a big surprise, considering the unemployment rate in the Kalahari is an estimated 90%.

A myriad of inter-related social issues have arisen from this, including astoundingly high rates of alcoholism and drug abuse, domestic and child abuse, rape, HIV/AIDS and TB, malnutrition, school drop-out, illiteracy... the list goes on and on until you can't help but think, "What isn't wrong here?". It's easy to be overwhelmed by all of the social ills, knowing what these people face every day with little hope of improvement. But I've learned that one absolutely must focus on the positives - if not, then truly nothing will change, except for the worse. That's partly why I've come back to this little corner of the world: so many people and organizations and political systems have failed them over the years that they seem to have developed a sort of endemic community inferiority complex. There are many individuals right in the community, though, who have incredible skills and knowledge of traditional values and behavioural norms that could have a hugely positive impact; it's just a matter of drawing them out of their shells that they have been shamed into through generations of oppression.

Think big, but start small. That's exactly what the camelthorn seeds are doing right now in the children's cans - and perhaps also in their minds.

(See more photos in the gallery "Kalahari - it begins...")

 

Comments

1

Dear Holly, I really enjoyed your stories of the 'Horse Whisperer' and 'The Seeds of Change'.
Keep the articles coming, when you get a chance. I like having the maps included in the articles as we can see exactly where you are. Hope you are well. Karen Smith

  karen smith Nov 21, 2009 2:17 PM

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