Monthly Archives: January 2012

Though there is need Everywhere…

….I have been presented with the opportunity to serve with World Concern in Africa.
Ever since accepting the Communication Liaison position with World Concern, I have been personally battling with the false idea that I am just “another white girl going to try to help needy people in Africa”.

This is my attempt to share a deeper piece of my heart. I want you all to know why I am moving to work in Africa- not Cambodia, Haiti, Chicago, or South Seattle.

Though I am still in the process of questioning and learning, Here is what I do know…

There is need all over the world, including America.

In fact, there is need in my own neighborhood.

I believe that there is a reason why every person is gifted with a unique set of skills, talents, and passions.

These skills, talents, and passions must be used wisely by the proper people in the proper place at the proper time.

When an individual’s skills, talents, and passions match a specific need, that individual must act.

Though I recognize that my skills, talents, and passions can be used to serve the needs of people both locally and internationally, I have been blessed with the chance to serve abroad.

There is no doubt in my mind that my skills, talents, and passions will be will be utilized through the work I will be doing with World Concern in Africa. I am grateful for the opportunity to use what I have been given in an international setting. What an incredible chance to learn not only about how to be an effective journalist, but also to learn about other cultures, peoples, and beautiful ways of living.

I do not feel that I need to go all the way to Africa in order to use the gifts that I have been given to assist those in need. I do feel that I need to go to Africa in order to be obedient to the incredible opportunity that has been laid before me- to be a voice on behalf of the voiceless.

I look forward to this experience with great anticipation…
…anticipation of being challenged emotionally, physically, spiritually, mentally
…anticipation of building relationships
…anticipation of expanding my world view
…anticipation of learning from those different than me
…anticipation of gaining skills that I can bring with me as I return home to the states
…anticipation of learning what World Concern is doing so that I can share their work with others
…anticipation of doing my part to contribute to the work of World Concern.

Thank you for trusting my intentions, for listening to my heart, and for supporting me and the meaningful work of World Concern.

“Vocation is where our greatest joy meets the world’s greatest need.” – Frederick Buechner

 

The Hopeful Continent

It seems to that the majority of the stories that come out of Africa are those of war, famine, and suffering. This encouraging article, titled The hopeful continent: Africa Rising, recently featured in The Economist, is here to tell us otherwise.

Although Africa still contains wars, famine, and suffering people, the continent of Africa is with hope.

Here are a few standout facts from the article, in case you’re more of a browser:

“Over the past decade six of the world’s ten fastest-growing countries were African.”

“In eight of the past ten years, Africa has grown faster than East Asia, including Japan.”

“Africa still needs deep reform. Governments should make it easier to start businesses and cut some taxes and collect honestly the ones they impose. Land needs to be taken out of communal ownership and title handed over to individual farmers so that they can get credit and expand.” (This is one of the many goals of World Concern!)

 

Read the full article here:

After decades of slow growth, Africa has a real chance to follow in the footsteps of Asia

Dec 3rd 2011 | from the print edition

 

 

THE shops are stacked six feet high with goods, the streets outside are jammed with customers and salespeople are sweating profusely under the onslaught. But this is not a high street during the Christmas-shopping season in the rich world. It is the Onitsha market in southern Nigeria, every day of the year. Many call it the world’s biggest. Up to 3m people go there daily to buy rice and soap, computers and construction equipment. It is a hub for traders from the Gulf of Guinea, a region blighted by corruption, piracy, poverty and disease but also home to millions of highly motivated entrepreneurs and increasingly prosperous consumers.
Over the past decade six of the world’s ten fastest-growing countries were African. In eight of the past ten years, Africa has grown faster than East Asia, including Japan. Even allowing for the knock-on effect of the northern hemisphere’s slowdown, the IMF expects Africa to grow by 6% this year and nearly 6% in 2012, about the same as Asia.
The commodities boom is partly responsible. In 2000-08 around a quarter of Africa’s growth came from higher revenues from natural resources. Favourable demography is another cause. With fertility rates crashing in Asia and Latin America, half of the increase in population over the next 40 years will be in Africa. But the growth also has a lot to do with the manufacturing and service economies that African countries are beginning to develop. The big question is whether Africa can keep that up if demand for commodities drops.
Copper, gold, oil—and a pinch of salt
Optimism about Africa needs to be taken in fairly small doses, for things are still exceedingly bleak in much of the continent. Most Africans live on less than two dollars a day. Food production per person has slumped since independence in the 1960s. The average lifespan in some countries is under 50. Drought and famine persist. The climate is worsening, with deforestation and desertification still on the march.
Some countries praised for their breakneck economic growth, such as Angola and Equatorial Guinea, are oil-sodden kleptocracies. Some that have begun to get economic development right, such as Rwanda and Ethiopia, have become politically noxious. Congo, now undergoing a shoddy election, still looks barely governable and hideously corrupt. Zimbabwe is a scar on the conscience of the rest of southern Africa. South Africa, which used to be a model for the continent, is tainted with corruption; and within the ruling African National Congress there is talk of nationalising land and mines (seearticle).
Yet against that depressingly familiar backdrop, some fundamental numbers are moving in the right direction (see article). Africa now has a fast-growing middle class: according to Standard Bank, around 60m Africans have an income of $3,000 a year, and 100m will in 2015. The rate of foreign investment has soared around tenfold in the past decade.
China’s arrival has improved Africa’s infrastructure and boosted its manufacturing sector. Other non-Western countries, from Brazil and Turkey to Malaysia and India, are following its lead. Africa could break into the global market for light manufacturing and services such as call centres. Cross-border commerce, long suppressed by political rivalry, is growing, as tariffs fall and barriers to trade are dismantled.
Africa’s enthusiasm for technology is boosting growth. It has more than 600m mobile-phone users—more than America or Europe. Since roads are generally dreadful, advances in communications, with mobile banking and telephonic agro-info, have been a huge boon. Around a tenth of Africa’s land mass is covered by mobile-internet services—a higher proportion than in India. The health of many millions of Africans has also improved, thanks in part to the wider distribution of mosquito nets and the gradual easing of the ravages of HIV/AIDS. Skills are improving: productivity is growing by nearly 3% a year, compared with 2.3% in America.
All this is happening partly because Africa is at last getting a taste of peace and decent government. For three decades after African countries threw off their colonial shackles, not a single one (bar the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius) peacefully ousted a government or president at the ballot box. But since Benin set the mainland trend in 1991, it has happened more than 30 times—far more often than in the Arab world.
Population trends could enhance these promising developments. A bulge of better-educated young people of working age is entering the job market and birth rates are beginning to decline. As the proportion of working-age people to dependents rises, growth should get a boost. Asia enjoyed such a “demographic dividend”, which began three decades ago and is now tailing off. In Africa it is just starting.
Having a lot of young adults is good for any country if its economy is thriving, but if jobs are in short supply it can lead to frustration and violence. Whether Africa’s demography brings a dividend or disaster is largely up to its governments.
More trade than aid
Africa still needs deep reform. Governments should make it easier to start businesses and cut some taxes and collect honestly the ones they impose. Land needs to be taken out of communal ownership and title handed over to individual farmers so that they can get credit and expand. And, most of all, politicians need to keep their noses out of the trough and to leave power when their voters tell them to.
Western governments should open up to trade rather than just dish out aid. America’s African Growth and Opportunity Act, which lowered tariff barriers for many goods, is a good start, but it needs to be widened and copied by other nations. Foreign investors should sign the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, which would let Africans see what foreign companies pay for licences to exploit natural resources. African governments should insist on total openness in the deals they strike with foreign companies and governments.
Autocracy, corruption and strife will not disappear overnight. But at a dark time for the world economy, Africa’s progress is a reminder of the transformative promise of growth.
Correction: It was Standard Bank—not the World Bank as we originally wrote—that provided the statistic that some 60m Africans have an income of $3,000 a year. This was corrected on December 5th 2011.

 

I Resolve to Read

Fellow blog readers,

As a part of my 2012 New Years resolutions, and because I expect many a solo evening while living in Africa, I resolve to read more.

I was blessed to be given a Kindle for Christmas, and now I am ready to fill it up with e-books of any and every genre.

Here’s the issue, there are too many good books to read. Because of this, I am kindly requesting that you comment with your top 3 ‘Must Read’ books. These can be books that you chose to read for pleasure, read in high school because your English teacher forced them upon you, read with your book club, read because some celebrity recommended them, or read because you wanted to learn how to basket weave. I’m open to it all!

Here’s a portion of the list I’ve got going thus far:

  1. Unbroken by Hillenbrand
  2. Fahrenheit 451 by Bradbury
  3. Any and all C.S. Lewis

Can’t wait to hear your recommendations!