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Case in point - one of the advertisements accompanying my article is for a Medical Mission organization soliciting volunteers to work in projects around the world! If you look at the advert in detail, Kenya tops the list of the countries with the most projects to volunteer for. I don't know whether I find this an absurd irony or just plain sad that an advert like this would accompany this piece.
From Mary Walker: First, my apologies, It is in Zimbabwe where the banana/house cost inflation rests and also their currency with 15 zeros that is worthless. Not Tanzania by any means, where things are relatively stabile, and in the aftermath of the post election violence in Kenya two years ago, tourism is booming. Sometimes writers make errors, not from ignorance but just simply fingers that move faster than brain waves. Sorry for that really ridiculous error on my part.
Second, it is the scope of the problems in Africa, if one wants to generalize, that are the issue. The extremes between the haves and the have nots in a country like Kenya are exponentially different than in the United States. In Kenya, 80% of the population is rural, meaning no electricity, no clean water, few schools. In the United States, even for the poorest of the poor, clean water is available at a public library, a police station, or a church - meaning water that won't kill you as it can in Kenya.
I am happy to see the vigorous response that some of my observations have brought forth. To clarify one point. I have spent alot of time looking at the secondary school textbooks used here in Kenya. In spite of the many challenges in Kenya, students are expected to master subjects like chemistry, biology, and math at the same level that I have observed in American high schools. In this way students aptitude is quite similar to ours. But in every other way, life here is totally totally different from even the poorest of the poor in our country. A prime example would be the lack of clean water and access to even basic medical care for endemic and life threatening diseases like malaria, typhoid, cholera, AIDS, chronic diarrhea for the vast majority of people here in Kenya. At least in the US there is clean water and emergency medical care readily available. Please try to iimagine what your life would be like without these basic human needs. I agree that there is much work to be done to assist the needy in the United States of course. But the idea that Africa can provide for itself is untrue. Its resources are controlled by businesses owned by former colonial powers, or as in Sudan, at the mercy of corrupt governments. The "average" working class African, if there really is such a thing, is of a totally different caste than in our country. Mary Walker, from Narok, Kenya
"Most school students around the world are studying in conditions completely different from the school environments we are familiar with from our childhoods. In particular, the study of world history, geography, or political science is irrelevant in a country like Kenya. The education system in Kenya struggles to provide the most basic instruction in math, english, chemistry and biology, and perhaps business or computer studies (in only the newest and most well funded secondary schools). Added to this, that many students in a country like Kenya are living in extremely rural areas - what we might consider to be basic information about the world we live in is totally foreign to them and unnecessary for survival on a day to day basis. The schools must focus on basics, and knowledge about the outside world is a complete luxury under these conditions.I would challenge anyone who thinks, however, that these young people are ignorant to take a look at Kenyan
textbooks in chemistry, math, biology, or English and note the level of comprehension required. The United States hardly can claiim to be well versed in world history, civics, or international political science, considering the percentage of Americans who believe(d) that Iraq was involved in the events of 9/11. And how many Americans understand the critical differences between Persian Islam (Iran and Irag) and Arabic Islam (Saudia Arabia, Dubai, etc.)? Mary Walker, written from Narok, Kenya
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