Travel Advice in Africa

24 May

Earlier I had contacted my brother’s friend who participated in a 10 week program in Uganda, creating sustainable business plans through an NGO. Asking for some advice, here are some of the points he suggested (shortened for this blog). Though we have heard alot of this before and are staying in mostly rural villages, it cannot hurt to hear advice from new people:

1. Don’t drink water that you have not personally watched being boiled. Exceptions can be made for *nice* restaurants or bottled water that you yourself break the seal on. Otherwise, stick to Coke products. It’s the one time in your life when Coke is healthier than water.

2. Stay in groups, don’t wear fancy clothes, wear pants (even though it’s summer, Americans are the only people who wear shorts in public past the age of 12), and don’t flash your wealth around. Common sense stuff. I kept my wallet in my front pocket and I was golden.

***3. Don’t give to the beggar children. It is heartbreaking, but for the sake of long-term consequences, you CAN’T give to beggars in Africa. Read my blog post about it here: Send it to your colleagues if you can, because I’m very passionate about this point.

4. If two (or ten or fifty) weeks could solve Africa’s problems, we’d be done by now…You will run into locals who work very slowly, don’t understand the concepts you are trying to convey, or simply aren’t in it for the right reasons…Be a cynic early rather than be disappointed. Use it more as a learning opportunity than a service opportunity and Africa will be better in the long run, and you will have a better time.

5. You will also meet some absolutely amazing people. Talk to them, ask questions, and listen. Talk to your cab drivers, find out their stories. Talk to your waiters, ask about their family lives. You have to be careful talking to strangers (especially in Kenya – that place “can get a little rough” as Obi-Wan would say), but in safe opportunities, take advantage.


Solar Powered Autoclave

8 May

Autoclaves work like this.

Students at Rice University have developed a solar powered autoclave– a device that uses pressurized steam to sterilize objects, used by hospitals, tattoo parlors and the like– for use in the developing world. Inhabitat reports here.

Tanzania at 15 M.P.H.

8 May
The author rode a Raleigh "Companion" across Tanzania

The author rode a Raleigh "Companion" across Tanzania

I found this fun article on a guy who rode a tandem bicycle across Tanzania. It’s called “Tanzania at 15 M.P.H.”. It’s a fun read, with a great audio slideshow attached.

Check it out here.

Article on Western Culture’s influence in TZ

30 Apr

What has Greg Mortenson Done to the Future of the Nonprofit Celebrity Spokespeople?

28 Apr

International Development Notes

26 Apr

Here are mine and Kelly’s notes and bibliography:

International Development Notes

International Development Presentation

And here are some articles and presentations you might enjoy:

Easterly’s Presentation at NYU

Handelman’s “Rapid Urbanization and the Politics of the Urban Poor”

Kaplan’s “Cities in the Less Developed World”

Montgomery’s “The Urban Transformation in the Developing World”

Seabrook’s “The Mechanisms of Impoverishment”

UN DESA 2008 – MDG Report

Computers donated to Tanzanian children

23 Apr

This story was promoted on BBC News last week and I thought it would be worth sharing. We’ve discussed the viability of technology in education and I wonder how this project will work out for the Tanzanian children who receive these computers but have never used, let along probably seen, a PC before.

Here’s the organization that facilitated the donation – The Tumaini Fund.

The organization work primarily to promote education and better life opportunities for children who may not have the means to go to school. Although the motives of the Tumaini Fund to provide computers for this Tanzanian secondary school are noble I wonder if this technology will be so foreign to the students that it will irrevocably change the local culture of (primarily verbal and written) education. ¬†As we’ve hypothesized, much local tradition is verbal and I wonder what these computers will do for the school children who no longer discuss ideas with each other but instead work them out digitally.