Out of Africa

It turns out that getting yourself back onto a time zone is much easier to accomplish if you actually keep a regular schedule and get to bed on time. That was not to be as I was at a friend’s wedding reception last evening. However, it was wonderful to see so many people once again and catch up on the last few weeks. It was the same this morning at church. I have some wonderful friends here in Victoria.

The first question I get asked is one which I have been asked many times before. It is a hard question not because it asks something incredibly difficult or profound but because it is impossibly to answer in a short sentence: “How was your trip?”  How do you encapsulate a trip such as this in words? It is a similar struggle I faced after our Offshore trip around the Pacific for a year where we encountered many different people from many different cultures. We were confronted with different issues and needs that people experience on a daily basis and challenged in our Western lifestyle. It is a similar struggle I faced on arrival home from a life-changing six weeks in China as a part of a culture and language exchange where I was also challenged in our lifestyle and in the accepted norms of our culture.

In Kenya I saw first hand some of the corruption and disparity of wealth that seems to be all over in many African (and, indeed, many developing) countries.  Driving down the road and seeing the differences in how the majority of people live versus how the wealthy live was, at times, disturbing. I struggled with being white because of the legacy white colonials have left in many developing countries; I hate receiving special treatment just because of my skin colour. I took issue with major irrigation projects designed to benefit a small number when thousands suffer because of drought.

These are all issues which are not unique to Kenya. In many ways, they are found in Canada as well. We just do a better job at hiding them. There is still corruption. Climate change and changing weather plans are things we have to deal with as well; lets face it, Western countries have not been leading the way as they should in dealing with these things as they do not seem to affect us as much. We have huge disparities in wealth in Canada, it is just easier to ignore if you live in the suburbs and drive into work each day without setting foot in amongst the really needy in our cities. I am as guilty as the next person in this.

Do I have ideas on how to change things? Not really. The problem seems so huge that I am still wrapping my head around it and wouldn’t really know where to start. For now, I will continue to live my life and to re-evaluate my lifestyle to minimize my negative impact on the world aroud me while considering how I can be of help to those around me.


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