Wednesday, October 24, 2007


One of the things I realized when we went to Africa was how poor my knowledge of the geography and politics in Africa. Yes, we hear and read news stories of events there. But the last time I studied geography was in high school. Most of the countries have changed names, governments, and even boundary lines since then. There have been wars, famines, and of course the AIDS and ebola epidemics. I knew a little about Apartheid, a little about Rwanda, very little about Zambia, nothing about Namibia. I know that a lot of celebrities spend time there trying to help. I know that land mines are an issue in some places.

I think part of the problem is that not only does Africa seem far away - it IS far away. From Washington DC to Johannesburg was a 16 hour flight - the longest flight I've ever taken. I think that we see so many problems around us, that it is hard to take on all the problems of the whole world. With modern news - we can see first hand in our living rooms violence across the world. Violence we can't stop. Poverty that we feel powerless to combat. And we do have poverty in the United States. If I stop and think about all the problems that I know about around the world, it can be overwhelming.

So . . . I've tried to concentrate my efforts on things that perhaps I can make a difference with. I spent about 16 years being involved in volunteer work in our small town of Hutto. I've been active in my home church teaching both women and children more about a loving God and how to live happy, productive Christian lives. I'm hoping that I can enrich people's lives with my Christian writing and I hope that I can find a way to use my photography to help the environment, to encourage people to spend more time outdoors, and to help people see God at work in nature.

But . . . now I've been to Africa. There is no doubt about it, the needs in Africa are many - overwhelmingly so. Which country to send aid to, which organization to support - what can one person or family here in the United States do to really make a difference so far away. At the Namwianga Mission there is the Milk Fund at Namwianga. This provides formula for orphans who are being cared for by relatives in their villages.

One thing the Gregersen's said while we were there: It is easy to be overwhelmed by all the need and just throw up your hands. But . . . it is possible to just plug away doing little things that will make a difference.

We did not make it to Rwanda, but Sheila Finch, one of my science fiction friends, also went to Africa recently. She visited Rwanda. Her blog about what she witnessed there and the amazing things this country is doing to rebuild after the trauma of genocide is well worth reading.

As I get more settled at home, I hope to read more about the issues in Africa, southern Africa especially. It seems to me that if one understands the situations, one is better able to find a way to help.

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