I have been struggling with what to write in my blog to explain what I’m thinking. I want to somehow complete my blog updates with something I can read in 10 years and in 20 years and in 30 years and still remember the details.
So here goes.
I’ve learned the most about what not to do in Africa to help. Hand outs are very negative. Always. Without question. Sustainable capital investment is very good. We should all do A lot of research before we leap into the world of volunteering or sending money in any way to the second and third world.
Religion is killing Uganda. Churches are seeing a big opportunity to convert masses of people to their religion through hand outs. They offer free schooling tuition for their kids or free health care. At the same time the local people change their life long cultural community based ways to get in on the church hand outs. In some cases churches have asked indigenous people to cut down ancient fig trees – all of them, millions of them, because they were evil trees in the bible? They convinced the Batwa to smash ancient pottery and find God because the pottery was made for satanic gods? So they destroy all of their history ? There are a lot of things that faith based groups are doing right so I’m not trying to challenge the idea that faith based capital can be helpful. and I’m not flat out slamming religion.
It’s just strange to see us creating religious extremists in a peaceful community. I have a lot to think about with all that. Faith is good in so many ways but not stopping to learn a people’s culture before acting and investing is foolish. It’s harmful and its counter productive.
Gorillas in the Mist was a profound movie that helped save an incredible species, but there is a lot of complete fabrication in the “true story” that isn’t true so much as that is is based on a real person. The Batwa people aren’t evil poachers that often killed the Gorillas – there were some that were convinced by the western world to commit atrocities against their own people and the Gorillas all for greedy white people. That’s what the movie touched upon but got wrong.
Today we still have rich white people killing endangered species in Africa and there are Asian poachers still wanting Gorilla body parts, and rhino body parts. That’s all so complicated that I can’t speak with authority so I shouldn’t speak at all but I have learned to keep my mind open to knowledge. To keep trying and learning the truth. That things aren’t always what they seem. To try and see first hand and make my own decisions. I am so lucky to be able to do any of that.
This is not the end of my volunteer world. I’m interested in going back to Africa one more time, there is a great Big Beyond program in Ethiopia and maybe soon in the Congo. Azafady had a great program in Madasgascar. I want to try and do more with Project Elf Dallas and maybe something else of my own one day.
But above everything else,.. I learned that the people who are close to me in my life are amazing people. I have ended up with such a loving and supporting group of people in my life. The best family I could ever ask for, wonderful kind friends and a great partner in life. I have missed all of you and I thank you all for being interested in this ambition of mine to make a difference in the world.
I won’t ever have my own kids and that’s hard for me because I always wanted kids. But I can do my best to live on through making some tiny meaningful changes. Thank you all for being part of my life.
Signing off from Africa.
Much Love, Brian
Respect, professionalism and perseverance. Life is a gift. Living is a choice.