Change Yourself…Change The World.

Goodbye Africa
October 23, 2010, 4:07 am
Filed under: Indonesia, Kenya, Thailand

Dear friends,

My fellowship with Kiva has ended, and I am currently sitting in the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport waiting to board a plane to Bangkok, Thailand. I have a day layover there before I head to Bali, Indonesia for three weeks.

This sudden change of plans was precipitated by an immense need to just get out of Africa. Truth be told, this experience was not what I had hoped it would be. In a nutshell, my experience in Africa was largely based around Nairobi. While I’m appreciative that I got to live in the city for three months, travel all around and really understand it, this was not what I had envisioned myself doing: living in one of the most super posh urban areas of Africa for three months. I had imagined that my experience here would have been similar to the one I had in India- living a very basic lifestyle and really experiencing the life of an average local. Living in Nairobi, which is littered with plush shopping malls, movie cinemas, spacious apartment complexes, and a huge variety of Western food, limited that experience for me. I have to partially lay some of the blame on myself: I of course, could have chosen to live a very different lifestyle if I had wanted, but it would have been grossly inconvenient in relation to where my work was every day. I also found myself turning to these creature comforts merely because it was there and easy.

I think this correlates to my perception of what I thought Africa was before arriving, versus what it is now. Studying development extensively through Asia and South America, I read all kinds of books about ‘the plight of Africa’- the AIDs epidemic, millions crowded together in slums, malnutrition, malaria– and every picture I saw were of starving Africa children. Part of me knew, from traveling to many places, that this could not be the whole picture of Africa- but I had imagined that it was much more severely underdeveloped than most other places I had been. Upon arriving in Nairobi, I was shocked to find that places such as Bangladesh and Panama were much more underdeveloped than Nairobi, a vast city chock full of modern conveniences. I understand that Nairobi is not an indication of what the rest of Africa is, by any means- in fact, Nairobi is the hot spot for aid agencies that carry out work in other countries, because it is such a convenient place- but it still really changed my perception of Africa as a continent, in both good and bad ways.

And so I feel like I’ve experienced Africa in a pretty unique way- not quite the one I had wanted, but it was an experience. And at this point, I am ready to move on from this experience. I know that I will return back to Africa someday, when I am older, a bit more wiser, and when I am can see and understand the dichotomy of the continent a bit better. So I decided that rather than travel around Rwanda, Uganda, and Tanzania for a month, that I return to Asia instead for a brief respite, an area of the world that I hold most dear to my heart and sorely miss.

This decision was also caused by a huge desire to stay for a period of time in Bali, a place I’ve always wanted to go to. I think that a 3 week stint in Bali is just what I need right about now. Then before heading home at the end of November, I’ll be heading to Thailand for a week to visit one of my best friends Mira and the CRC program at Global College.

Kenya: I did have some wonderful memories with you, and so I thank you for that. But it’s time to move on.

On to Asia.

Much love,

1 Comment so far
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Well, nice to read your stay in Kenya. I wish you had an opportunity to participate on our community projects in Maasai land. It would have given you a different experience from urban centers. Welcome to my village next time you are visiting Kenya.

Comment by Michael

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