Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Journey Begins...

Marty and Stephanie, our new IT and PR interns graduated from Vanderbilt University two weeks ago and have now arrived in Mutare to assist ASAP with our program expansions. Over the coming weeks expect to read updates from them about what they are learning as they encounter Zimbabwe and the world of development work for the first time.

Marty and I have only been in Zimbabwe for a few short, jet-lagged days, but already I am learning so much from seeing the country and its citizens first hand. For the past year I have been reading news article after news article about Zimbabwe’s troubles, so I came prepared for the very worst. I have to say that I did not find what I had been expecting. In this country with the world’s highest inflation, widespread food shortages, an HIV/AIDS infection rate of 20.1%, according to Global Health Reporting, and a plummeting life expectancy of 34 for females and 37 males, life is surprisingly... normal. People wake up in the morning, go to work or look for work, come home at night, and tuck their children into bed. Despite everything, life continues.

Perhaps what allows these people to continue their daily routines in circumstances that many of us would consider chaotic is hope. Zimbabwe has not always suffered the problems it currently faces. In fact, not so long ago Zimbabwe was considered the bread basket of Africa and represented the promise that development could make real change. As the situation here slowly worsened, people did not forget the growth that they had once experienced. The aftertaste of success fades slowly.

In the end, it is this hope that is the most lasting remnant of the country’s previous development. The Zimbabwean people know there is more for them, so they are not content with their current situation. They have seen what it is to not be poor and hungry and they will continue to strive together until they no longer have to be.

- Stephanie

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