Friday, March 05, 2010

Reflections on my trip

After 4 weeks in 5 countries visiting various NGOs doing a variety of work related to nutrition, public health and HIV/AIDS, education and sustainable development, I reflect back on many of the same questions that always fill my mind after a trip to Africa. The biggest ongoing one is “does aid work?” Of course, I can’t answer that question here, but I can say I leave Africa less cynical this time than in the past. I visited valuable programs that are making very positive impacts on individual’s lives. I met passionate people running programs that genuinely believe they are doing good work and have bright attitudes about the future.

In fact, that is the funny thing about my job at Princeton in Africa. Each year, through 25 different Fellows experiences, I get to hear many stories that don’t make it into the mainstream press. Although they work face to face with poverty, disease and conflict, they also work face to face with real people and programs that serve them. They tell of little ways life improves or the way local people help themselves through the tough times. What is always clear to me is that Africa is a much more humane place than the news covers. I never see the “dark continent”. Instead I see rich, deep smiles of real people.

I hope this brighter feeling means there is something changing on the continent. After all the Newsweek cover last week called Africa the next Asia and local magazines are feeling bullish on the prospects of many countries.

How Africa is Becoming the New Asia

1 comment:

MikeBC said...

wow you took some really great photos