Tanzania; a juicy contradiction

My people perish from a lack of knowledge.Hosea 4:6 Today marks day 5 of being back in the United States from a 3.5 week trip to Tanzania. From March 15-June 7, I along with 8 other students, traveled half way around the globe for the cultural experience of a life time. We stayed for one week in Shirati, shadowing in multiple rural clinics and district hospitals. We then spent the remainder of our stay in Ntagatcha in the City of Hope orphanage when we ran a mini health clinic for the children of the orphanage and did village visits to survey the everyman in order to find out a little more about their culture, particularly medically. What I gained from the experience was more than a missions trip, more than a class, more than a study abroad. What I gained was so real its almost tangible. So intimate was the experience that I am forever changed by it. Tanzania is the ultimate contradiction. Impoverished Masai mothers masquerading their desperation and intelligence in order to con visiting Americans out of a dollar. Children who shout “jumbo” and welcome visitors while being sassy behind their hands in hushed tones. Safaris that average $3k for visitors while natives families struggle to avoid doctors visit to avoid paying $4. Farmers who grow enough food to provide for a family of seven. A mother with ten pregnancies but only four children who welcomes unexpected American guest,dropping her daily to-do to answer invasive questions about those deceased children, mosquito nets and her knowledge of HIV, the whispered disease. Bucket showers and no electricity in a home but still a wealth of entertainment. Masai herders armed only with sticks two hundred yards from a pack of lions. Africa is a disturbing contradiction to me for all of those reasons and more. How can a country so beautiful and with such a wealth of resources fail to conquer the world, for a lack of better phrase. What it always comes back to me is Hosea 4:6. For my masters degree, my research is on the behavior behind HIV transmission and while I was in Tanzania, I had the opportunity to ask an abundance of uncomfortable questions in the name of my research. One of my questions was “Who do you think is more at risk of STD, men or women?”. And an educated young man explained to me that it was men because he was promiscuous. When I explained to him if a man is promiscuous he has the propensity to infect multiple women, meaning women are more at risk, he understood! People, often Americans and Europeans, have handicapped Africa. We give give give give to them; give them everything but knowledge. People are so ready to shove their religion down Africans throats in their haste to share their personal opinions that people fail to realize that they are in need of so much more than your faith. I have experienced their churches. Their faith is more real than ours could ever be. Each day they rise trusting in God’s provision for each and every one of their needs. So instead of sharing our religion, lets share with them our education, our knowledge of medicine, our lack of corruption in our government, the idea of a freaking supermarket! (I had to explain a supermarket as “a warehouse of food. like your markets but much. much. much. bigger”)I just think our focus should be different but enough of my soap box. Look at God’s grace!These are God’s people and the work of his hands.

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