Posted by: katieperez | April 15, 2008

So Why Africa and Why Now?

So the “Why” Africa thing is easy- if you know me you know I Love to travel- I should clarify- I LIVE to travel. There is honestly nothing I love more then waking up in a foreign land and setting off in the morning not knowing fully what the day will hold. Of course if possible I love to travel with Pedro or good friends but hoestly if it is alone or not at all I’m happy to set out alone. One of my goals on my “Bucket List” per say is to travel to every continent in the world. I’ve traveled extensively through Europe and Aisa and now I’m off to Africa. No only did I want to see Africa and go on Safari but I have really wanted to get to know the people there and to also help in some way. 3 Billion people in the world (half of the world’s population) live on less then $2 a day and many of them are in Africa. I set out about a year ago to try and find a program that I could volutneer with. In the End I landed on Cross Cultural Solutions, a Non-Profit agency that lets visitors travel all over the world to be of service. I chose Kilimanjaro because of the ability to work with Children and because of the culture and the people. Sue, my friend who will travel to Africa with me, and I will be based in RAU, a small villiage just outside of Moshi at the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro. We haven’t recieved our final placement but we are hoping to be in one of the primary schools in the area. The focus of our work will to be to teach the children English. The native language in Tanzania is Sawhili and this is the language used in Primary schools. Secondary School however is taught in English. Many children struggle with the transition and fall behind in secondary school because their english is not strong enough- our purpose will be to help them devleop stronger english skills. It will also be to just bring hope and dreams into these childrens lives. 

Microsoft hosted an event last week talking  about the current AIDS statistics and issues in Africa. The numbers are staggering. In RAU 25% of the children in school are orpahns, most of them due to AIDS. one of the speakers at the event last week as a Dr. who has worked as a consultant for the UN on AIDS programs. When we asked her about what we can bring to the children her answer was hope. Their greatest loss she said was the loss of human capital- they dont have enough people educated in the different fields because they have died. The country is so full of potential, the children just have to really believe it is possible. I am going to try and make sure that each lesson we teach helps bring hope and passion into the children’s lives.

So then Why now? Well why Not honestly. I started at Microsoft at 21, just after graduating from college. By 22 I had purchased a townhome, was living with Pedro, and we were raising my little brother. While my friends were living back home wtih their parents and moving between jobs I was working insane hours and building a career. Now I not saying that my road was any harder or easier- it was just very directed, very focused. Honestly now at 28 I’m a bit worn and need something like this to help revitalize me. I have done the long hours, the ship cycles, and hell I even delayed our wedding for a year so that Arcade’s launch on the 360 would be perfect! All of it has been amazing and I wouldn’t change it for the world but it’s also been hard at times. The stress has lead to higher blood pressure then I should have. It’s also created this place inside of me that really wonders if we are really doing it right. Pedro and I spent 3 weeks in Italy on our honeymoon. While there we visted Cinque Terre, 5 little cliff towns on the Northern coast of Italy. There are no cars allowed in the towns and the people there live almost in another world. Everything moves so slowly. That world is far away from our daily land of e-mail on our cell phones and rush hour traffic. I think Africa will help me answer that question of how I want to live, and how I want to raise a family. I’m sure that I’ll come back to the Land of Starbucks happy to have the modern conviences but I think my time away will help me to pace myself a little more and focus on the aspects of life that are so meaningful, not just material.

Another reason for going to Africa now is that Pedro and I also want to start a family. And let’s face it, trotting down to Africa for a month isn’t really possible once you have a little one that depends on you. So this is my last gift to myself. I know this will be a once in a lifetime experience and I am counting down the days.

-K

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