Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Buddha Diaries Recommends

What's happening in Africa?

The question is enough to make our heads spin. What other continent (indeed, what other word?) evokes such mental chaos? Poverty, Imperialism, slavery, ethnic strife, genocide, AIDS, famine, blood diamonds...no wonder we are wont to turn our attention elsewhere.

But is this any way to behave? Considering the tragedy and the promise of a continent currently experiencing the worst side-effects of our increasingly inter-connected world, aren't we obliged to pay more attention?

As is the case with every important issue, it is up to individual innovators and visionaries to make the subject digestible to those who are new to it. That is why we appreciate The Nata Village Blog.

The Nata Village blog may be one of the narrowest on the internet, in that it purports only to describe the struggle against HIV/AIDS in one tiny village in Botswana, in southern Africa. It by no means seeks to answer the question posed above ("What's happening in Africa?") but it offers us an important entry point into that discussion.

Updated frequently with plenty of photographs and personal anecdotes, the Nata Village Blog paints a vivid portrait of Nata. Through the posts, we learn about the villagers themselves as well as the people (African and otherwise) who have arrived at ground zero of the HIV/AIDS epidemic to offer their sweat and expertise.

The overall effect on the reader is to reduce the discomforting geopolitical trends concerning African development into a much more digestible equation: Caring outsiders + expertise + empowered locals + money raised through the internet = a better quality of life for impoverished, afflicted villagers.

While global institutions like the IMF and World Bank struggle to assist developing nations (while protecting the profit-motives of developed nations, of course), it is refreshing to be privy to a grassroots effort that, over time, has begun to make a real difference in the lives of these villagers. For those of us who feel the need to know "What's happening in Africa?" the Nata Village Blog reminds us that - in the absence of effective global leadership - we have to start somewhere.


Anonymous said...

By writing about all the negative things that take place in Africa you are perpetuating the "mental chaos" it creates for the Western mind. Why not investigate and emphasize the positives? It is a beautiful, calming, spiritual place to live, where family and community is emphasized and embraced. Why can we not address Africa in this light? Perhaps you could look deeper than since you are a student of Buddhism with an established voice...?

nata said...

Thank you so much for recommending the Nata Blog. We appreciate your support. As for anonymous, I only invite you to read the blog and you will see the positive stories we feature as well as our battle to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS. We feature weddings, lobola, and local youth who are working hard to improve their lives and those in the village. With gratitude, Melody Jenkins, blogger and technical advisor www.natavillage.org