Friday, December 09, 2005

Roadside market

Roadside market
Originally uploaded by noisymonkey.

Grumpy and Uninspired

Sometimes I'm just grumpy. I don't know why and it makes me laugh to mention it. I don't have anything to say today, but then I think: When has that ever stopped me?

I like the picutrue of a roadside market in Uganda very much. But the picture I liked best was a picture of the owner of the photo at Flickr, noisymonkey with her Ugandan friend, Peace. I don't know what noisymonkey was doing in Uganda, but I'm sure it was something good. Among her other pictures is one of Peace's parents. There's no mistaking real friendship.

Over the time I've known Nathan, I've been very keen to discover programs and activities that link together people inside and outside of Africa. There's a group of medical students who have a project in the area near Nathan called the Ugandan Village Project:
The Uganda Village Project is a sustainable volunteer initiative in eastern Uganda. This project is sponsored by the IFMSA-USA and is involved in coordinating volunteers and funds for projects in the areas of health and development in villages in the Iganga district of Uganda. Our main areas of focus are: healthcare, education, scholarships, and clean water.
The UVP is connected with two great organizations The International Federation of Medical Student's Associations and Village Concept Projects.

Something about turning fifty is that it's a sure bet I won't have any kids; I'm no Tony Randall (warning a good head shot of Randall, but serves to intice to click to see "rare nude photos" of him). In my single state I'm free to imagine all the things I'd prohibit my kids from doing if I had kids: driving or riding in all-terrain vehicles, playing high school football, bb guns, all sorts of stuff--they'd be in bed by 8:30 by gosh. I also know I'd indulge them a lot more than I suspect. Still when I see pictures like noisymonkey in Uganda, and I feel pretty sure she's a young adult, my over-protective parent perks up. In many European countries kids take a gap year between high school and college. I've seen some programs for kids to visit Africa where there's a nice mix of supervised service and touring. And I've also read blogs and posts of kids on such adventures.

It's a mixed bag, like everything. Some of you may remember Pitt's program in Afghanistan back in the 70's. A friend of mine came back from that adventure miserable. It was the first I'd ever heard the words proctology and procotoscope as he came back with amoebiasis. While others were positively transformed. Whether young or old many who venture to Africa come back with a passion for the place and a determination to encourage connections.

When I first set out to discover as much as I could about Africa I corresponded for a while with a fellow who went to Africa with the Peace Corps and found himself still living there some thirty years later. His first advice was for me to come there. And his second bit of advice was to read John Nichols The Milagro Bean Field War also a movie. I'm not sure why and when I asked him he said it was because he thought the book hilarious. Ah, but actually from other things he said and had me read, I know that he also was turning my attention to how important connections are, sharing the bonds of humanity. John Nichols says it well about his writing:
I've always believed, if you're involved even in a very small struggle--in some sort of infinity in a grain of sand--in your local neighborhood, that every action has universal implications. I believe that if I struggle for the rights of an acequia in Taos, New Mexico, that the ripple effect [will spread] from that tiny struggle.
I've linked to the Invisible Children site before, but the story these young filmmakers tell is so wonderful. They've made a good film and a movement, without blanching at their niavete or youthful idealism.

If I had kids, I don't know if I'd ship them off for a gap year in some far off land. I'm sure I'd be boorish about my pride in them if they went. That won't be an issue, but I read with stories of kids who spend a year or so serving others abroad with great interest.

Per ususal I've got some links left over I don't know how to squeeze in. I'll just mention the BBC and a wonderful series of blogs called Africa Lives.

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