American Girl, African Heart

February 13th


I haven’t written much about Africa lately, although as always the continent’s political turmoil weighs heavily on my heart. We in the West are currently consumed with election news, pushing African headlines that much father away. Did you know Laura Bush recently visited Zambia? Me either. It happened the same day Paris Hilton was released from jail. Ick.
Instead of another conversation about candidates, La Lohan, the fashion ethos of leggings and booties and the $1 cup of coffee from Starbucks, I’d rather be able to debate:

– The recent violence in Kenya. Presidential elections in December turned sour after allegations of fraud, reigniting centuries-old tribal grudges that have sent this previous example for African democracy into a tailspin. Kofi Annan is there, working on peace and trying to help restore order. However, reading stories of tribal warriors spearing innocents, (while carrying cell phones on their loin cloths no less) makes me fume. I just don’t understand tribal violence — whether in Africa or the Middle East. How is killing innocent people ever justifiable?

– The recent coup d’etat that has sent thousands from Chad into neighboring Cameroon. I pray for these families as they make the trek. There is no harder existence than the life of an African refugee.

– The on-going violence in Sudan. I am proud to see Americans pressuring China to knock it off. I fully do not understand the political relationships between China and many African nations, but I do know those cheap weapons are coming from somewhere and it isn’t American sweatshops. Instead we manufacture much more expensive bombs and planes and sell them directly to foreign governments. Americans are far from blameless, I realize. And something tells me if we had the oil agreements with Sudan (instead of Russia and China guarding the valued paperwork), none of this refugee news would reach our shores.

pray before lunch

Okay — have I fully bummed you out? Here’s the silver lining: There are lots of great things happening in Africa that never reach the news. TDH is safely in Zambia working alongside a team of foreigners who are trying to quell the tide of infant deaths to HIV. (Compassionate) Bruce is in Botswana similarly working with people to best implement HIV-prevention programs. (Selfless) Peace Corps volunteers are scattered across the continent teaching school, building homes, creating small businesses and being incredible examples of American kindness. (Generous)

kelli with two orphans

If you are interested in African news, here are some great blogs I love to read:

Ali in Mozambique
Luckybeans in Malawi, just moved from Zambia
Brian in Congo
Memsahib in Kenya

Prayers for Africa and prayers for all countries. May we soon figure out as a specie how to help others in distress and do so peacefully.


Posted in
Africa, Journal
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17 Responses

  1. Just wanted to thank you for your blog. It’s on my google reader, so I rarely go to the site and almost never comment, but I feel such gratitude for the glimpse it give me.

    I’m a good decade older than you, at home with soon-to-be 3 kids, our lives couldn’t be more different.

    But I was a PCV too, and went from the grad school feminist who eschewed all “home ec” type skills to a woman who embraces and loves them all now…

    So I get a lot of inspiration from your site, whether it be knitting, cooking, community building or a wider view of what’s happening in Africa. Just wanted to say thanks!

  2. The World Associtation of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts holds a Juliette Low Seminar every year for a select group of young women from around the world. This year it was slated to be held in Kenya, and yesterday I read that due to security concerns they had postponed the seminar. They are hoping to move it to November and still hold it in Kenya – I hope so too.

    And several years ago, as part of a world wide inititative, Girl Guides and Girl Scouts assembled peace packs (similar to your packets last year) for refugee children and distributed them through the UN. It would be great if we could get that going agian. There will always be such a need. Thanks for bringing that need to the attention of so many.

  3. Thanks for sharing Kelli. I admit I am not as knowledgeable about Africa as I probably should be. I met a friend recently who grew up in Africa, and I hope to learn more from both of you. As always, your gift of kindness to the world is much appreciated. Optimism is contagious – keep on spreading the faith!

  4. Oh this is great…thanks for the update (and the links). We were just doing some long term planning with OrphaNetwork last week and feeling a HUGE calling to move into Africa. So now, we’re waiting and allowing God to work to see where He wants us there. Again, thanks for the news.

  5. ali la loca February 13, 2008

    Hello Kelli!

    Thanks for the shout-out. I’ve also recently “discovered” Reluctant Memsahib and am loving her stories.

    Keep up your good work, too.

    Maybe we can meet the next time you are in Moz? Hope so!

  6. If the US could manage to learn how to, as you say, “help others in distress and do so peacefully,” we would truly be the world leaders that we claim to be.

    Meanwhile, until that day, I also believe in the power of one person making a difference due to the ripple effect (ie., dropping one stone in a pond sends out multiple ripples). As Helen Keller said, “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. I will not refuse to do the something I can do.”

    Thanks for doing what you do, and sharing about others who do what they do. Whether in Africa or at home, helping others in distress is always, always worthwhile.

  7. I’ve been hearing about the violence in Kenya on NPR and I don’t understand it either. There was an interview with a young man (perhaps a boy really) who burned a church where many people from a different tribe were taking refuge. He said he felt guilt about it, but his tribe leaders told him to do it and he would do it again. It was such an infuriating interview to hear. I’m saying my prayers for Kofi Annan and the people of Africa.

  8. Excellent and thoughtful post, Kelli! Humankind and all their inherent vagaries have much to which to answer no matter where they live. It seems to me that the Golden Rule has a good purpose that seems to be forgotten. If every human would THINK, the world would be a nicer place to live. As it stands now, churches are burned, the neighbor’s wife is beaten, diseases run rampant, people go hungry, and wars are fought–all to no avail. What does it gain people to perpetuate these hideous actions? The answer is beyond my comprehension but maybe I’m naive.

  9. Thank you Kelli; great post.

  10. Kelly, I always enjoy reading your blog. I was wondering if you would consider posting some creative ways individuals can help to remedy some of the wrongs in Africa. Most of us pray (and that’s very important), but are there some other things we can do instead of just wringing our hands and thinking the problem is greater than we are?

  11. You are so right about the news that we get here in the US, its shameful. Fully 3 million and more have died in the Congo in the past 3 years and you never ever hear anything about it. I stopped watching local news, CNN and Fox news. I turn on BBC which really does cover worldwide news and also Bloomberg, and I listen to NPR everyday. That is the only way that one can gather what is happening world wide these days and not have to hear Access Hollywood type news stories that you get from the major news corporations. I don’t think a person is a responsible citizen and are able to formulate opinions without keeping up with the news, but of course the hardest part is finding a news source that doesn’t dictate dumb down stories and their group political opinions to us. Whatever happened to the news correspondents that would give us the facts and expect us to use our little grey cells to reach a decision. Africa is a difficult but not impossible problem. I once heard a professor from USC discuss the Maleria problem there, he said that if they could get it under control it would totally change their economies. Interesting thought.

  12. Kelly, you have a way of putting things back into perspective for me. My travels to Africa have been pushed back a little due to professional growth and opportunity. It is never far from my mind. In fact, it’s in the forefront of my mind today.

  13. I wish you could pop over to Malawi. 🙂

    I spent yesterday in an Infant’s home myself– looks we are having a similar time of it. I find I don’t blog very much about Africa. It is so overwhelming and beyond so many people’s experience I do not even know where to begin. It is wonderful to read your persepctive.

  14. Hello, My son, Rob Wolowski PC is in Zambia-Masamani-visit him and tell him, his mother said hello. Take care!

  15. yes, prayers for everyone:) Specially for those children out there, and for our own as well!

  16. I love Luckybeans too — in fact, that might be where I found you 🙂