I hope things are going well in Kenya. I finally found some time to put my words on paper (so to speak). I carry the belief that my giving has purpose, and so I’d like to share with you the story of how I came to connect with Africa and, ultimately, Asante Africa Foundation.
After years of hearing friends talk about the magic of Africa, the specialness that extended beyond the animals and staggering pristine scenes, I finally succumbed to the intrigue and bought myself a ticket.
I had no idea what kind of an impression the countries, animals, people, cultures, art, and history would leave upon me. The peace and serenity of the parks and animals showed me the natural beauty and order of things as they have always been, and will hopefully always remain. Even after I left, my heart and soul remained in Africa, and I wished to return sooner than later. It was an amazing experience and has left me wanting much more.
Yet, along with the love I had developed for Africa, there were things that I found deeply unsettling: witnessing struggling people, their lifestyles, living conditions, and the prevailing suffering.
Although I knew I was going to ‘third world’ countries, I didn’t actually comprehend the sheer lack of resources in the communities I visited. The conditions under which they lived, rather struggled to survive, truly shocked me. Although I understand that things have improved in the 50 years since independence, there appears to be little opportunity for those who want more from life. And sadly, so many seem to be unaware that there is more to be had.
In Kenya and Tanzania, where I spent most of my time, we traveled two weeks by truck. This gave me full views of the land and opportunities to stop, meet, and see the lifestyles of many locals. Beyond the recurring theme of poverty, many struggled and faltered in achieving independence and developing business opportunities. Compounding matters, the absence of proper housing, sanitation facilities, health education, and family planning knowledge was disheartening.
I was also troubled by the lack of basic opportunities for children. Schooling was a very different experience there, and frankly, quite disturbing to see. Students often trekked several miles to attend school. The quality of the instruction was sub-par, most certainly inadequate by international standards. Yet being the only instruction available, parents struggled to send their children, barely being able to afford tuition. Many couldn’t afford to buy the books, clothes, and other additional necessities that enabled learning. Seeing children unable to learn, something we often consider a basic part of life, was particularly unsettling.
Lake Victoria, a village in Tanzania also left a lasting impression in my mind. It was a place where unemployment, drug and alcohol use, and promiscuous sex were rampant.
The lack of sexual protection resulted in many babies with many partners, creating a significant need with a very limited capacity to provide. Furthermore, it seemed as though many circumstances and cultural traditions subjected women to an inferior, dependent position, like chattel -literally barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen. For example, many young women and girls in the area were still subjected to the horrendous FGM procedure.
As I marinated over the experience and attempted to look forward, I wanted to make a positive impact that addressed some of the standout problems. I wanted to look for an organization that supported education and training for young, bright minds that were eager to learn. I sought to be involved with individuals who encouraged newly-educated citizens to return to their villages, bringing hope, knowledge, and fresh ideas to solve remote problems. I also wished to support holistic education for women that covered their legal and human rights so that young girls could develop a sense of autonomy as women.
The juxtaposition of my own advantaged life with the experience I had in Africa gave me a valuable perspective. I knew that whatever insights I drew from my trip were meaningless unless I took the next step and got involved.
With these objectives brewing, Asante Africa Foundation (AAF) came to me at a perfect time, exactly as I returned from Africa with all of my emotions bubbling over. Your organization ticks all of the items on my list. I appreciated Asante Africa Foundation’s commitment to creating sustainable and far-reaching solutions to the problems I was so perturbed by during my trip. AAF seems to have accomplished a great deal in a short time while continuing to look to the future for opportunities to grow.
Simply stated, I wished to see more locals receive the necessary training and education in order to cultivate self-sufficiency and prosperity. While there is no one answer, these are crucial building blocks towards living more fulfilling, stable, and long lives.
I strongly encourage anyone interested in this mission to get involved with Asante Africa Foundation.
It may only take a village, and we have an entire country to offer. If we try together, there’s no end to the good we can do.