Thursday, January 15, 2009

Nairobi is...

For the last few days, our team has had our heads down, working hard on getting the data we need to make a good recommendation to our clients. G-lab has been an amazing opportunity so far; both to experience a new culture and place, and to try to help those making an impact on African poverty and healthcare.

Nairobi itself is fantastic. The weather is amazing. It never rains. It's neither too hot, or too cold. You would think this city would lead a charmed life...and yet...

The slums are incredible. They butt right up against of the homes of the wealthy (Githagoro, where a Gertrude's Garden outreach clinic is located, has a guard gate to prevent its denizens from escaping onto the lawns of nearby estates).

Crime -- although we have experienced none of it--is reportedly rampant. People from Dar es Salaam told us that we could expect to have cellphones snatched from our hands if we had a conversation in the street. And if people from Dar say it's dangerous...

Look, much brighter and better-educated people than I have written at length about Africa's problems, and I'm not going to be able to add anything new or better to their arguments. All I can say is, if you're coming to Africa, on safari or for a vacation, I can't see why you would not choose to give your time as well to one of the many NGOs in the area. I am glad that I have the chance to at least feel like I am contributing to making life here better. And I would encourage anyone interested in an African trip to take the opportunity as well.

The following organizations can hook you up with a volunteer job:

Volunteer Africa
National Consortium for Study in Africa (this has a long list of resources)
David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (be a foster parent to an orphaned elephant, which you can then visit in the evenings if/when you are in Nairobi)

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