Questions

Read the previous post for my time in Zanzibar… this is all the questions I’ve been thinking of from conversations with volunteers and locals…

Some of the other travelers had been taking a little holiday in Zanzibar from there volunteer work in Moshi- a little town that serves as a hub for safari and climbing KILI. Turns out the “organization,” i to i is quite corrupt. It’s a company rather than a non-profit as they make a huge profit in the name of promoting cultural understanding and volunteering. The volunteers were jaded. One guy, who I sized up quickly but then  thought let’s see what he’s aboutm made a blanket statement, “Africans are lazy,” don’t you think? I calmly tried to offer different ways of seeing it and having only been in Tanzania for 2 days I wasn’t quite sure of anything. Needless to say, it’s  a striking and powerful statement. In his eyes however, he’s come to volunteer and he often wonders why Africans aren’t helping in doing tasks as he or fellow volunteers are doing such as painting a school or doing something other than lounging around.  They’ve also dealt with locals blatantly and subtlely asking for money- “give me money” is a daily thing they deal with.

I wonder:

How has it become that locals expect whites to give money? How long has it been? Is it that so many organizations are there that it has become assumed that whites may as well do everything? It must work or they wouldn’t keep asking, right?  Are Africans ever asked what they want? Or do organizations just come in and create projects? How much has volunteer tourism contributed to Africans reliance on whites? Expectations? Do people have a lot of access to jobs? How does the government contribute? How do the people view the government? Where does all the money go from tourism visas? Why are there seperate prices for Tanzanian residents and non-Tanzanian residents? Why does everyone want me to pay  in US dollars (hotels, ferries, snorkling…)? Does the US have a strong tie to Tanzania or is it simply because they “think” the dollar is strong?

I also talked with a young guy named Patrick. He came up to Jeannette and I while we were relaxing enjoying the peacefulness of the ocean waves crashing. He started telling us his story- works at night as a fisherman in his little wooden boat and a small light. I would be scared. He’s not. “What’s there to be scared of?” If he doesn’t go fishing, he takes people out during the day- snorkling or what not.

Conversation was good but there were moments I had tears in my eyes. I forsee this trip will be very emotional for me. SO much wealth in the world and yet so much poverty. WHY are there such extremes? sure it’s part of life… but I imagine a different world.
Call me a dreamer or an idealist but someone has got to believe!

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2 thoughts on “Questions

  1. Hi Lauren,
    I’m so impresssed with your blog. I feel like I’m on the journey with you a little. Your descriptions, perceptions and contemplations are fascinating! It seems your perceptions of Africa (and of the world) are changing as you move from place to place.
    The blog also lets me know that your are safe and I thank the stars every day for watching over you.
    I miss you so much but am focused on being grateful that you are able to realize your dream at such a young age. You really are such an inspiration for me and for all whom I tell about your journey, which is about everyone who crosses my path.
    I’m looking forward to your next entry but in the meantime, be safe, enjoy every moment, and know that you are loved.

    Sending much love and tons of light your way,

    Mom

  2. Hey… Are there different stores? Like in Cuba, there was the store for foreigners (dollarstore), and the one for cubans, where everything was 1/30 of the price for them (on the other hand, not always everything available).
    And good questions… In the Gambia the locals were also hanging around, women working and men just smoking ‘cali’ and playing music. They say there are no jobs. I don’t know, I am sure someone’s workdrive is a cultural thing depending on how you are raised and how society is.
    I think white people or western people are simply seen as ‘rich’ by them, and that’s why they ask money, they think we all have loads of it. And compared to them, we do actually. Our level of living is just a lot higher because of that, so we adapted and thing ‘oh well I am not as rich as people living in Bel Air, so I’m not rich’, but hey we have so many possessions! Clothes, food every day, and the ability to even see the world.
    It’s such a hard topic, I’m curious which ideas you’ll form about it and to hear more about it!

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