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Published: February 15th 2012
By day five I had seen enough to make
the thoughts in my head unprocessable.
I know we have poverty, diseases and starvation in the States. I know that we don't display our poverty for the world to see and that other countries think that all Americans are wealthy, while in reality we do have a considerable number of issues to work on. However, as far as I know, we're not to the point of loin cloth wearing, no clean water, people sleeping in streets that are covered in animal and human excrement.
Maybe this makes me a bleeding heart, but it completely broke
my heart to see the things you might watch in a documentary right in front of my face. It's near impossible to truly grasp how real the issues are in other parts of the world when they are being received via your flat screen tv in your cozy home while you're sipping a glass of wine after a long day at work. It's also hard to care or do much about these even bigger problems when your own hours and pay have been slashed, bill collectors are blowing up your phone and the
Baby in Village
Can you imagine your baby sitting unprotected on the same grounds that goats, chickens and humans relieve themselves?
Last year alone, 22 people died in this village of 20 homes.
uninsured prescriptions you depend on for your livelihood just took another price hike.
And perhaps this is a ludicrous way of thinking, but bare with me while I try to sort my thoughts. The things I witnessed in relation to the poverty made me think about the increasing unemployment rate in America and how outsourcing to India is adding to our problem. America obviously can't survive if all of our jobs are outsourced and nothing is left for the majority of our population, but we are a country of intelligent entrepreneurs and as upset as many are getting about the outsourcing that has taken place... we live in a land of opportunities. Gen Y is projected to be a generation of entrepreneurs... game changers. The economy may be terrible now, but we have the resources to step up and figure out new and better forms of employment. Maybe we've gotten too comfortable and this is an opportunity in disguise to do bigger and better business because it is a lot easier to take a risk when you have little to lose.
"Young people's conception of success has evolved," said Ankur Jain, the 22-year-old founder of the Kairos Society. "They see success as changing lives. And they're drawn to technology because they see it as a way to help people in the world who aren't benefiting from that technology."
Outsourcing to India means that America, in a way, is helping create a way of life for
Photo Credit: http://www.modernguidetohealth.com/conditions-diseases/polio-disease.html
We saw a lot of severely crippled Polio victims. It is tragic to see young kids with Polio because it could have been prevented. India officially went one year without a new case of Polio while we were there, but they have three years to go before it\'s officially eradicated.
people who had absolutely no other options. It's not like we're giving a free handout or a short term supply of food, they are getting a chance to meet their basic needs for survival and hopefully an improved quality of life though employment. And hey, a better economy in developing countries may lead to an opportunity for growth in our export business as they gain more buying power. Those that become more established will hopefully even take it a step further and join a service club like Rotary
to pay it forward. This is an outlet to give back and focus on humanitarian projects such as ending polio, clean drinking water, properly disposing of the deceased...
When was the last time this was a concern for you? Ever?
This isn't about being superior, it's about being a
global citizen and helping other humans survive.
I knew going in that this experience would be life changing. I still can't pin point exactly what it is, but I am working on figuring it out. What I do know is that I don't need a lot of money to be happy. I'm not a "stuff" kind of person and after this
Woman carrying material on her head at a construction site
Watching a woman balance large containers of water on her head, impressed, I said, "I'm going to have to practice that." My host for the day simply responded that it may be fun for us to learn how to do, but for them it isn't a choice. They don't have the equipment or the resources to do it any other way. Duh. I didn't bother think before I spoke about what I was actually watching. The wear and tear on her body. The obligation to do this task day in and day out.
experience my goal is to never become one. Right now, instead of gadgets, I put my savings toward local projects that focus on health, empowering women and educating low income children. Between the financial knowledge I gained from my former boss sending me to Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University
and understanding that toys do not bring me happiness, I can see myself continuing to live a modest lifestyle so long as my profession is fulfilling my need/want/desire to give back. We spend so much of our lives at work... might as well not only love it, but make a difference while I'm at it.
I also know that I have to get my degree before I can do anything radical. It's a slow process, but in a year, I'll have the piece of paper and power to move anywhere since I won't be restricted to staying within driving distance of my college. Start my own business, join forces with a non-profit... I don't know what is in store, but I do know that my career objectives are being modified and I am completely open to taking new and unpredictable paths.
The pictures only represent a fraction of what we saw. While
visuals help get a message across, I didn't feel comfortable taking snaps of a lot of what we saw. On several occasions it made the folks we met happy to interact and have their picture taken, which is a different story. I referenced images from external sources to show some of what I didn't feel comfortable capturing at the time.
Stay tuned for Part II - Education
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