West is Best?

2003-12-15

My “Development Work” entry was supposed to come in two parts, one day after the other- but there were problems with the electricity in the country last week, so I wasn’t able to update when I wanted to.

Part Two

This country needs to change. It needs our help. There is, however, a fine line between “good change” and “bad change.” Or maybe it’s that bad things usually accompany the good things.

This country would be SO much better off if the hospitals had enough supplies. If there were more doctors (Gambian raised and trained doctors would be wonderful, unfortunately if there are Gambian doctors, they usually leave the country so that they can make money), more people would live. If every person were able to afford a mosquito net, the occurrences of Malaria would significantly decrease.

If children could afford to go to school (school fees aren’t even that much (by Western standards), but not every family can afford it), that would help. If we could train teachers to teach students properly, people could be able to read and write a hundred times better.

If they had more wheelchairs, that would help. If they had welder’s masks so they wouldn’t go blind, that would help. If the hospital library had more books and other resources, that would help.

If they had more agriculture information and training, that would help.

There are so many things that this country could improve upon. I would LOVE it if we could assist them and not poison their lives with some of the evils of the Western World.

One of my jobs here is creating a web site for one of the country’s main hospitals. I’m extremely proud of having the opportunity to do this. It won’t necessarily assist inside the country, but I think it will help doctors become more informed about the hospital before coming to work here. Maybe they could even get donations!

It’s hard not to let the bad parts of the Western World filter through the when we come here to assist these countries.

Maybe I didn’t make myself clear in my previous entry. I DO love certain elements of my country, and other First World Countries. I love Canada’s health care system. I love paved roads and traffic lights. I love conveniences like hot water and air conditioning and clean streets and “equal rights” and cities having holiday decorations and… I could go on, but it just makes me homesick.

There are WONDERFUL things about living in First World Countries. But I’m not sure if we’re happier than the people living in this Third World Country. I see so many stupid things that we are obsessed with. I see so much ugliness when I remember things back home, I’m terrified that I’m not actually HELPING these people, but instead am harming them.

I know my impact here isn’t large. I’m happy with that. But I am teaching thirty people how to use a computers, and that knowledge has the power to transform other people’s lives in a BIG way. Maybe it won’t… maybe these people will never touch another computer after I leave. But MAYBE they’ll go on to work in an office and have free Internet access and learn about all sorts of things all over the world. It’ll be up to them if they want to change their lives with the knowledge that’s out there.

I do believe in the power of the Internet. I think it can be a wonderful tool.

But working here is like surfing the Internet. It doesn’t matter what thing you’re searching for, you’re eventually going to come across the ugly stuff. It doesn’t matter what I teach here, or how I live here, they’re eventually going to fall upon one of my Western faults.

And so? I have no conclusion other than the fact that I wish we were never here. Not because I don’t want them to have a voice, to improve on their lives… but everything I see outside of the city part of this country is mind-blowingly pure. It’s so natural, it’s so beautiful, and it nearly brings me to tears to see human beings so opposite of who we are in the West. I just wouldn’t want this part of the planet Earth to lose out on something that’s so primitive.

Maybe I’m wrong, maybe the West is best, but I sure hope not.

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