Saturday, February 28, 2009
We are all connected now
Honora Englander is back in Oregon after her service in Uganda:
I made it back to Portland after a long (38 hour!) journey. I'll leave you with a short story from my travels home.
On my ride across Uganda, my driver, Habert, talked to me about old age. He is 36 years old, middle-aged by Ugandan standards where the life expectancy for men is 42 years (per the WHO). “Will I reach 50?” he asked me rhetorically several times. He explained that many of his friends from football and childhood have died from a host of causes - traffic accidents, malaria, HIV. I noticed more than anything that he didn’t say this with much regret or grief, but instead with a kind of stoic acceptance of this is the way of life here. As we drove through roads lined by mud homes with tin roofs and stands selling mangoes, tomatoes, potatoes and bananas, I was curious to imagine what these communities looked like 50 years ago, 100 years ago, 36 years ago.
Habert shared with me differences that he remembers from his childhood compared with his own children’s. I asked what he thought the major drivers of change have been in his lifetime – has Uganda been affected most by relative political stability, HIV, Western presence? “Mobile phones,” he answered, without hesitation, and went on to explain. “Now, you can be a peasant farmer on a banana plantation in Uganda, and you can be talking on the phone with someone in Kampala, or someone in America. We are all connected now.”
Posted by Paul Levy at 2/28/2009 09:02:00 PM