One of my absolute favorite places I visited this year was Tanzania. In particular I loved spending time in nature with the Maasai and international NGO Oikos. Alhtough the terrain is terribly arid due to human fault and probably global warming, the landscape was still utterly breathtaking to me. Granted I don’t live there and don’t have to deal with the problems that perpetually arise from not getting enough rain. Selfishly, I simply loved sleeping in a tent under the full expanse of the night sky that was filled with millions of stars and then waking up on a beautiful, sunny morning to snap photos of native birds and flora.
I spent a cumulative 22 days in Africa in October. I won’t lie – it was amazing!
Throughout October I traveled to Tanzania, Zambia and South Africa. I went to Tanzania to report on agriculture, health, food security, and poverty as an International Reporting Project fellow. I traveled to Zambia as a guest of Malaria No More to cover their brand-new Power of One campaign that is essentially a global movement where a small $1 donation goes to test a Zambian child for malaria and treat them. $1 literally keeps a child alive. And finally I traveled to South Africa on the final Social Good Moms’ insight trip for the year.
During my travels in Africa I have learned many things: the continent is gorgeous! Gorgeous! My photo collage does it absolutely no justice whatsoever.
But there are places in Africa where a lot of work needs to be done. In some places infrastructure isn’t worth a damn. Pardon my French. It’s true. That is why I was happy to hear about the upcoming Building Africa conference that is taking place in February because something has to be done about the roads. Of course, I am not saying anything new here, but having spent time on many dirt roads in October to the detriment of my backside I thought I’d mention Africa’s massive roads problem. If Africa doesn’t fix its infrastructure problem, health and transport woes will continue to be a constant burden on African countries. To wit, you cannot transport medicines, food, and essential items to people who live in areas you cannot reach. That’s problematic. Last week the African Union’s economic development arm, NEPAD, convened a conference in Johannesburg that is looking at bringing on private partnerships to help fund roads in Africa. $500 billion dollars is needed to fund infrastructure improvements on the continent of which $100 billion is expected to come from private funders. That’s a start.
I also was reminded that the African people are amazing and beautiful, and warm and welcoming, but there is still corruption that prevents or severely stalls a lot of good projects from happening. Even Kenya has set up a name and shame anti-graft site to curb bribery and corruption. Who knows if it will work, though, or is significant in name only.
The United States government has a heavy presence in Africa through global health programs like PEPFAR, Feed the Future, and the President’s Malaria Initiative – not to mention the millions of dollars in funding that goes to NGOs on the ground. A lot of productive, life-saving work happens on the ground in Africa. I have seen it, reported on USAID-funded projects, and have read about countless programs that are helping those in need. You wouldn’t believe how many USAID logos I see throughout Africa. Seeing USAID’s African presence gives me a sense of pride to witness what the American people do for other countries even if they don’t realize where a minuscule fraction of their taxpayer money is going. This I know to be true: the people who work for USAID are fantastic stewards of US taxpayer money. It’s their duty to use the money in the ways in which they are intended. And although I haven’t seen every USAID budget allocation line for foreign aid programs, I have talked to enough USAID employees to know they take their work very seriously. I enjoy seeing where taxpayer money is going in Africa and have many times. Most Americans have no clue that as a nation we are keeping millions of people alive and healthy and that’s a shame. I wish more people knew.
Being in Africa for nearly a month teaches you that time flies! 22 days goes by extremely quickly even though at first it seems like the month will drag on forever. I also realized that I need to set my eyes on west Africa in the near future. I have only visited east and south Africa. That, my friends, has to change. I am sure I will go to west Africa for some reason in 2014. That is a promise to myself.
I also learned that if you set goals things will get done! I had goals of traveling internationally more in 2013 and that has happened time and again and I am grateful for it. My next international trip will be visting India next year. Many of you know I was supposed to go to India this month, but the kind folks at Water for People (the fantastic NGO I am going with) were so kind to move the dates to 2014 that my year of travel will start in February of next year. And as you can expect I am truly looking forward to going to India again.
Finally, I will leave you with this: whatever it is in your life that you want to do, do it! You probably don’t want to spend nearly a month in Africa like I did. But, whatever your goal – go after it. Time won’t wait for you!
That fast! I am six days away from flying across the world again! It seems like I literally just got back from Zambia. I’ll be in Tanzania for ten days as an International Reporting Project fellow learning about and reporting on agriculture, poverty, food security, and hunger. My heavy emphasis will, of course, be on women and children. Women make up the vast majority of the agricultural sector in Tanzania and nearly fifty percent of Tanzanian children are stunted. I am particularly interested in digging into these statistics and hearing stories from the ground. I am particularly interested in learning why the stunting rate is so high in a country where seventy-five percent of the population works in agriculture.
Read my work as an International Reporting Project Zambia fellow.
I look forward to also delving into reasons why the agricultural sector needs improvements in private investments, stronger infrastructure for farmers to take their crops to market, irrigation, better seeds, and economic development and empowerment for farmers. I also look forward to reporting on how women fare as farmers. Although women do most of the farming across sub-Saharan Africa women still lack access to capital and are left out of the decision-making process.
I leave on Saturday for a long trip to Dar es Salaam. For those who know me best, you know I relish a long flight. It gives me a chance to get away from the dinging of my devices for a while. As someone who lives on the Net and on all of my mobile devices, it’s hard for me to set them down and close the laptop. I must always be on, but when I’m 30,000 feet in the air it’s nice to just let them rest.
Of course, while I am in Tanzania I will be sharing a ton of photos. So many people have preconceived ideas about Africa that always tend to be negative – that it’s dusty, full of child soldiers, bloody gold and coltan mine battles, corrupt governments, and children with flies in their eyes. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Africa is an amazing continent with a wide expanse of good and bad, just like any other continent on the globe. I always want to break stereotypes if I can. Photos go a long way in doing that.
As before when I was in Zambia, I will be using video, audio, photos, and text to share my work in Tanzania. I will also throw in a few other new media tricks I’ve been tinkering with as well. Follow me on Twitter for updates from my travels. You can find all of my work in the following places:
- Covering Agriculture, Poverty, and Hunger in Tanzania (mombloggersforsocialgood.com)
- Infographics of the Week: Women and Agriculture (mombloggersforsocialgood.com)
Today was a fairly busy day. We visited a clinic in a compound called N’Gombe where they service nearly 500,000 people. In Zambia, slums are called compounds, which is very interesting in and of itself. The clinic we visited was an integrated HIV/TB clinic. This is significant because many times you will find HIV/AIDS and TB clinics that are dedicated to the disease alone. The integrated approach gives patients easier access to diagnosis and treatment in one place. In resource-low settings the World Health Organization recommends that HIV and TB be treated at the same clinic in order to provide more care for patients who have both infectious diseases as they tend to coincide with one another.
Today I created an audio update about our day from visiting the clinic, to visiting the home of a man with TB, to going on a site visit to Fountain of Hope, a shelter for street kids and orphans in Lusaka.
I am in Zambia as an International Reporting Project Zambia Fellow. The International Reporting Project is a part of The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. I will be reporting on HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis and how these three infectious diseases acutely affect mothers and children. You can follow our journey for the next 7 days at #ZambiaHealth. You can read all of my posts from global development articles to personal observations on my Storify: Daily Updates: @JenniferJames’, Trip to #Zambia with @IRPChirps #ZambiaHealth.
Tonight there was no way I was going to order room service again! No way! I ordered room service last night so I could stay in and get some work done. Why pay more when you have other options? Before the sun went down, I mozied to the grocery store, which is a quick ten minute walk from the hotel.
On the way I couldn’t help but feel how gorgeous the weather is here. It’s perfect! It’s winter in Zambia, and on this side of the globe for that matter. When I left to buy my dinner it was a brisk 70 degrees. I had to wear a jacket, which coming from humid and hot North Carolina is nice. The sun was going down and the wind was blowing ever so slighting where you felt a distinct chill in the air. I can’t pinpoint where I have felt weather like this before. I want to say California, but that wouldn’t be right, but it’s close. It’s probably more like Ethiopia when I visited last December, but that’s not right either. My body has felt this weather before, I just can’t pinpoint where and when. Before I leave I am going to figure it out!
Here are a few photos of dusk here is Lusaka. All of these photos have no filter. I posted them as-is. That’s not to say they’re particularly good, just that I am getting so dependent on my lovely photo editor apps that I wanted to just shoot and share.
I am in Zambia from July 14 – 24, 2013 as an International Reporting Project Zambia Fellow. The International Reporting Project is a part of The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. I will be reporting on HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis and how these three infectious diseases acutely affect mothers and children. You can follow our journey for the next 11 days at #ZambiaHealth. You can read all of my posts from global development articles to personal observations on my Storify: Daily Updates: @JenniferJames’, Trip to #Zambia with @IRPChirps #ZambiaHealth.
Every morning I will give a quick update via SoundCloud about a general theme for our day ahead. I recorded this before our day started this morning. Look and listen for more SoundCloud clips throughout my time here in Zambia.
I am in Zambia as an International Reporting Project Zambia Fellow. The International Reporting Project is a part of The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. I will be reporting on HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis and how these three infectious diseases acutely affect mothers and children. You can follow our journey for the next 11 days at #ZambiaHealth. You can read all of my posts from global development articles to personal observations on my Storify: Daily Updates: @JenniferJames’, Trip to #Zambia with @IRPChirps #ZambiaHealth.
After 21 long hours of flying across the world I am finally here in Lusaka, Zambia. As we landed I could feel a sudden happiness engulf me of being back in Africa. It’s so peaceful flying in and seeing nothing but land for miles and miles and miles. I think that’s what makes Africa so unique – how very expansive it is.
I met with some of the fellows at the airport and now we’re at the hotel. Some of the others had flight delays and another fellow’s flight was completely cancelled out of Cairo. We will see her tomorrow. Hopefully she can get a flight out given the circumstances in Egypt right now.
Tonight is dedicated to getting to know everyone and then tomorrow the site visits start.
I am traveling to Zambia as an International Reporting Project Zambia Fellow. The International Reporting Project is a part of The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. I will be reporting on HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis and how these three infectious diseases acutely affect mothers and children. You can follow our journey for the next 11 days at #ZambiaHealth.