04 March 2010

Balancing Act

My current struggle with jet-lag is aggravated with efforts to balance experiences at home in rural Africa with experiences of life in more affluent USA and South Africa as I witnessed the last weeks. The environment in which the struggle for progress in rural Africa takes place seems worlds apart from the environment in which many affluent and leading people live their lives. An old dilemma, albeit changing face in our current world with abundant travels and communications.

Among other activities, in San Francisco I discussed ideas, experiences and possibly resource allocation for activities in Information and Communications Technology in rural Africa for health, education and communities. Those discussions took place in situations of comparative luxury, with soft, easy comforts, quite removed from often awful conditions of the areas under review. Although gratefully experiencing pockets of true desire for participation, I could not help the notion of general selfishness of the affluent society and wealth. Reviewing my interactions over the last weeks, it seems that true understanding of needs necessitate close and personal contact with the environment in which those needs surface. Those that did so seem to deal quite differently than the ones who did not.

When looking around, one just wonders how current global economic processes could be sustainable. I read quite a number of reports on global warming, economic growth, and like, and they are not happy read. My travels induced virtual flashbacks into my previous luxurious life, full of ease and pleasure. Its trials and annoyances hardly compare with the difficulties, challenges, barriers, and trials that come people's way in the rural African environment. Well, for now this all just does not balance.