Sunday, May 31, 2015

# 230 David's Wise Words

An entry from my youngest as he ventures off overseas today. Safe travels--and I mean, safe travels the entire year as I worry and fret over his well-being. Again, parenting--the job that never ends. Despite my reservations, I am immensely proud of him and his adventurous spirit even though my gray hairs are sprouting faster than my hair dresser can keep them colored.


Less than a year after returning from Peace Corps Togo, it looks like I will be heading on out again, only this time to Senegal. Many are wondering, and rightfully so, why a man would want to put himself through another year of pooping in a hole, unbearable heat, being the white man (which isn’t always a good thing) and the dreaded stomach problems that are associated with West African living. Which, truth be told, might be one of the least tourist friendly places in the world that isn't a war zone. 

Well, for one, Senegal is much better off than Togo was, which means paved roads, not as smelly holes in the ground, and diarrhea only 3 times a week, and not 5 times. So I’m taking a step up that's for sure.  


Also, my work seems pretty cool, so can not complain about that aspect. I get to live in a city setting, while going out in the bush and working with farmers and setting up trainings to improve their crop yields and food security. Pretty much, I get to hang with poor African farmers, which if you haven't done so yet, you should. 


It involves a lot of joking about the most mundane stuff and random laughing at the white dude who is trying to build a yam mound. I’m a simple dude with simple needs, so getting my hands dirty while working in unbearable heat is a sick fantasy of mine. Or maybe it was the malaria drugs that were causing me to think that. Or perhaps, as I'm sitting in a nice air conditioned room, with running water and solid electricity, while sipping on a nice cold glass of clean water, my mind has forgotten just how crappy it can be over there.  


But oh well, that's life. I figure, why not head on over there, do this work for a year, and then see where the wind takes me. I’m not so much doing it because I feel these farmers need my “help”. And I'm definitely not trying to save all the “poor, suffering” babies in Africa just so I can put a cute pic of me with a black baby on facebook and have everyone comment how amazing I am. 


I’m doing it because I enjoy working and learning from them, and I can relate to them. From my experience in Togo, I learned to go with the flow when working with farmers and I came to realize that most of them were a hell of a lot smarter than I was; the only difference being that they were raised in different circumstances. 


This is not me trying to save the world. This is not me trying to make a difference and “make the world a better place”. I look at it as a simple act of me doing my job which is something that I enjoy. I don’t think of myself as some mighty savior because the world needs bankers, teachers, construction workers, accountants, etc just as much as they need a dude planting trees in Africa. 


Actually, I'm pretty sure the world needs accountants much more than they need a planting dude. And just like an accountant isn't looking at leaving his job anytime soon to head to Senegal, I’m not looking at becoming an accountant mainly because my Jewish genes have failed me in regards to my accounting skills.  


So there you have it, a simple statement of me heading back to good old Africa, to do some random tree plantings, improve the food security over there, learn a new language and have ungodly terrible diarrhea.  Wish me luck.


Thanks for reading # 230 of 7777.

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