Going to Africa, not getting Ebola

imrs.phpWhy does Africa get such a bad rap? I am no expert on the Continent myself but it sure seems that everything that happens there is 10x worse than the same thing happening here. Ebola for example. Right now, In Jenison Michigan I am 783 miles away from Atlanta Georgia where there are 2 cases of Ebola. In 2 weeks when I am in Africa, I will be 8,238 miles away. I will be further away from Ebola then, than I am now. But no one seems to understand Africa… Inside the continent of Africa you can fit the US, India, China, Japan, Mexico, Western and Eastern Europe. That is a lot of space. A lot.
People think of Africa and think of giraffes and elephants. I have been to Western African, Central Africa and Eastern Africa and have never seen a lion, a giraffe or elephant. I will be going to Southern Africa in a few weeks and have been told I will not see any wild animals there either.

I have seen big cities and small towns. I have seen wealth and poverty. I have seen HIV, orphans and mental illness. I have been to weddings, baptisms and church services. I have seen historical sights and modern technology.

In the US, I have traveled all over. I have seen big cities and small towns. I have seen wealth and poverty. I have seen HIV, orphans and mental illness. I have been to weddings, baptisms and church services. I have seen historical sights and modern technology.

Africa has more diversity in one country than the US has. They have 55 countries. Europe has 50 countries, Asia has 48, South, Central and Latin America has 20. We recognize the diversity and culture of all of these continents, with the exception of Africa. The only thing we recognize about Africa is poverty, infectious disease and governments taken over by rebels.

The total cases of Ebola in Africa is 8997
The total cases of Ebola related deaths in Africa is 4493
(as of October 17, 2014)

The total causes of heart related death in the world in 2014 is 7.4 million

But no one cares that I ate a handful of Oreos before I wrote this.

I/3 of the people of the world are infected with Tuberculosis. It is the cause of 1.3 million deaths world wide. When is the last time you heard something about TB? It is old news. It is not sensational. It is highly contagious, but boring.

I have been to Africa many times in my life and no one asks if I am worried about TB. It is much more likely that I will get that than Ebola. It is still more likely that I will get cancer or heart disease sitting in my living room that Ebola, but where is the excitement and sensationalism in that.

Africa is not a continent riddled with disease and rebels. It is not a continent that is dying off and moving backwards. I have learned more, been impacted more and found more joy in my handful of weeks in Africa, than I ever have in my 19 years of schooling or 38 years of Citizenship in the US.

Africa is not Ebola. Africa is not AIDS. Africa is not lions, giraffes and elephants. Africa is everything, and there are very few of us that will ever get to experience even 1% of this country. Yet there are many of us that will judge it based on the media. The media that represents 1% of the Continent.

The other important issue is that Ebola is real to a lot of people in 2 countries. People are very at risk and people are sick and dying. But the attention has been turned away from the actual problem to the threat of a problem half a world away. Americans are terrified of getting Ebola, but many of them could not find Liberia on a map. This epidemic is not about us. It is about people truly at risk. Actually dying. This is such a perfect example of America. Terrorism does not worry us until it hits our soil, yet people live with getting bombed, kidnapped, pillaged every single day. I wonder how many people had heard of the Taliban until 9/11. Americans do not think about rebels or extremists until something happens in our borders, despite the fact that people are getting murdered, tortured and displaced on a daily basis in countries all over the world. And now Ebola. The epidemic does not become a worry until it hits Atlanta. This is America, selfish, egocentric, narcissistic.

Get your head out of the mainstream news and learn something on your own. Don’t just get fed what you are told, ask questions, be curious, be a little cynical. Turn off the t.v. and get out there. And listen to Jon Stewart, he always helps


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