Wednesday October 14th – 8th day - Priorities
I was too tired to write last night. Yesterday was a strange day. A hard day. I felt like I had slid back to my low point of first arriving here, feeling incredibly lonely and sad. And I couldn’t shake it. My theory is that it was acceptance settling in. I got comfortable here, and now I just have to wait to go home. Something like that.
So I spent the day feeling irritable, but then it came time to teach the Ubumi staff about the camera I brought them, and it was wonderful. Sometimes I forget how much I love teaching, but I really love teaching. Showing them the different buttons wasn’t all that interesting, but once I could put it into their hands and let them record some things, everyone was having fun and hopefully learning a good deal. I got caught up in how much I enjoy these things.
The camera sort of sucks. Or rather, the editing software that came with the camera. It’s very basic and frustrating to use when you want to do more with it than you can. I’ll do my best to show them the various things you can do. At the very least, they can capture their own stories.
Today will be better. I’ll be teaching some of the kids how to use the camera. I really love teaching. Now if only they could get some stable internet.
You know how when you try to ask kids questions they give mumbled replies and one word answers? Well, that happens here too. And sometimes I think it’s the language barrier, that I’m speaking too quickly and they’re not understanding me. But sometimes it’s not, because today Dominic, one of the kids, sees me messing with my video camera and comes up to look at it and is asking me all about it. He wants to know what all the buttons do, how to record, all of it. And it feels so good to be able to help this kid understand what I’m doing and he’s all smiles about it. So that’s awesome.
I learned more about why the orphanage, and probably a lot of other places as well, don’t have internet. The prices are insane. I’m talking of close to $1000 US Dollars before even a monthly payment is made. And the monthly payments are around $100. Since Zambia doesn’t have a telecom infrastructure that I know of, all the internet has to be wireless, which means using WiMAX technology, if that’s even reliable after you install it because I don’t know.
You want to talk about rich-poor divide, it’s right fucking there. Imagine if you had to pay that much money just to use the internet. And now imagine that instead of it being $1000, it was a month’s salary. Because what I make in a month might be shit in the US, but it’s a damn big chunk of change here. And everything is internet now. Think about the programs on your computer and how many of them are for internet use. And beyond that, most programs also use the internet for updates and help info.
Information is power. And Ubumi is doing an amazing job of helping itself get stronger and build a better community in Zambia, but in areas like information technology their hands are almost completely tied. Why would I bother learning to use a computer when I can’t use it for all the things it promises? Information at my fingertips, communication with others.
I don’t know. This probably doesn’t even make sense in America. We’re wirelessly wired. But here? I mean, a thousand bucks? It makes me want to throttle someone. Right. THAT, of all the things in Zambia, THAT’S the thing that pisses me off? Maybe I’m the problem.