What is Development Work?

2003-12-11

“Development Work”

I’m helping develop this country into something that mirrors life back home. My life full of 100lb super models. Cosmo magazines with “How to Give Better Bl0w J0bs” as a headline. McDonalds. Obesity. Overpriced fruit and vegetables so that the poor can’t afford them. Fast cars. Money, money, money. Information highway. Land of the Free. George Bush. All of these things that I wanted to get away from, I’m helping bring into Africa.

We give these people things they DON’T need to survive, telling ourselves that it’s going to be better in the long run. We give them plastic; we think it’s more efficient. What we don’t give them is a way to dispose of it. Millions of plastic bags have been shipped into Africa and then thrown in the streets, burned along the side of the road- along with all their other garbage. They don’t have a garbage disposal system, they don’t have garbage trucks.

We give them cigarettes, but we don’t give them a proper health care system so that when they get cancer, they can get aid.

We give them flush toilets, but the country rarely has running water. We give them computers, televisions, blenders- but the country rarely has electricity. We give them Western clothing so they can look skanky. We give them our Nelly, 50 Cent, um… for what? We give them the English language, but they butcher it beyond recognition- because they were never taught properly, and even if they do have Western English teachers, their resources are so old, that we’re supposedly still using words like “needent” and “shant.” (HELL! Microsoft Word doesn’t even recognize those words in its dictionary!) What good is ANY of this doing them?

They’re not being Africans, they’re not doing what they have done for thousands and millions of years. They’re slowly (or quickly) turning into US! Horrible, cold, unfriendly, “I’ll sue your ass off if my coffee is too hot,” consumerist selves!

If I liked who we were as a society, I’d believe a lot more into what I’m doing. But all it took was to look out of a bus window going somewhat deep into The Gambia to see that what I’m doing here is wrong… I don’t want to help this country turn into something similar to the West.

Yes, these people may not live as long as we do, they may not believe in monogamy, but they’ve GOT IT RIGHT. They’ve got stable family lives, they CARE for one another. They work hard, they pay attention to the things around them. Most don’t care much about making lots of money, just as long as they’ve got enough to buy food.

This is the way it should be. They’re not materialistic, they have WONDERFUL family values, they’re strong and independent, skillful and responsible. They’re friendly and caring and unbelievably patient.

But what do we do? We’ve introduced these things into this country. We’ve shown them about computers (but not how to make them for themselves or fix them or even troubleshoot them), we’ve shown them our music, our clothes, our cars… and they seem to like it. If we were to pull out now, if we were to stop all aid and pretend we were never there, they’d be worse off than ever.

I wish, I wish so much that there was never a white person introduced to this country. I wish it could have remained pure and simple. I wish they weren’t striving to be more like us, because we’re ugly and wrong. But they don’t see that… because they’re too blinded by the idea of money- just like us.

Is teaching my computer skills helping this??????

Or harming it?

One Reply to “What is Development Work?”

  1. Just got back from Gambia. A friend and I are thinking of moving there. Have enjoyed reading blogs on your site. Especially this one….totally agree with you. I am British and soooooo wish they stay as they are. I’m living smack bang in a country where everyone is driven by money. Seeing what they ‘want’ and not what they’ve got.
    Once again, grrrrreat website.

    Diane

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