Sunday, June 10, 2007

Day #2

...Still here. I have re-booked on a 6:55 pm flight to London, then to Nairobi (where I'll have a 12-hour overnight in the airport!) and then on to Kilimanjaro on Tuesday morning.

I'm spending my down time reading up on some of the current events in the East African region. According to this article, 52% of Rwandans live on less than $1/day and 84% live on less than $2/day (UNDP Report 2006). As a politics/Shepherd student at W&L, I read these sorts of staggering statistics all the time, but as I prepare to board a plane to Africa, they take on a new meaning. Why is it that we care the most about tragedies closest to home? How can Paris Hilton make the headlines with a tantrum when there's a genocide going on in Darfur? How is it possible that speaking the word 'Darfur' feels like a cliché, much like "eat your vegetables--there are starving children in India"? Do humans only have so much capacity to care? These are all questions I know I will struggle with as I travel and live among the communities and cultures encapsulated in the above statistic. I feel a little absurd with my over-stuffed packs and carry-on containing a laptop computer, a camcorder, and a digital camera. Yes, most of the bag's contents will remain at the Rwandan school and library, but who am I to have such things and why do I think I need them? Perhaps the greatest frustration of all will be trying to explain what I've seen and felt to my family and friends--who are just as removed from the numbers as I am now. Videos and picture can only partially convey the experience. I feel so incredibly lucky to have such an opportunity. Now, if only I can catch a plane out of here!

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