The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Lusaka Travel Blog

 › entry 6 of 7 › view all entries

Africa is paradise, and why not? It keeps me coming back year after year.  I return home every time and tell my friends and family about the incredible wildlife that roams freely. I tell them about the unspoiled beaches that rival any I have seen. I tell them about majestic mountains and about jungles that are out of this world. I tell them about the friendly people and how happy they are in a life not ruled by materialism…

Africa is a paradise for tourists who come to indulge in the likes of safaris and mountain climbing and gorilla trekking and snorkeling and bungee jumping and rafting, etc. For most of the people who eek out their existence in this paradise, however, they undoubtedly would not describe it as a utopia. Tourists who are here only for the adventure will get glimpses of the “dark side” of Africa; it’s inescapable. But mingle with the locals, get under the surface, and there you will find heart wrenching circumstances with just about every single person…circumstances that suddenly make you question why life is so cruel and unfair.

Today we visited more schools and an orphanage, and as we were driving back into Lusaka I decided that I wanted to devote an entry in this blog to share the plight of what some of these innocent children of Africa are dealing with…

Every time I come to Africa it reinforces my recognition of how privileged I am. After all, I had no decision in who I was born to or which nationality I was. I could have just as easily been the child of a poverty-stricken Zambian mother, infected with HIV at birth, reared in an orphanage with the barest of necessities, and with never any chance to claw my way out of that impoverished life. It’s a gloomy picture but in Zambia it’s reality.

At an orphanage near Kizito Zambia we met with 4 sisters who ranged in age from 7 to 14. They came from a family of 10 siblings. Two of their brothers had died (one from AIDS and one from malaria) and the remaining 4 brothers were unaccounted for, last known to be in other orphanages. Their mother died when giving birth to the youngest girl, and there are no official records of the father(s).

But what is really sad (and ugly) about this particular situation is that the two oldest girls were forced into prostitution by an uncle before they were even teenagers, and all four were physically and sexually abused in some manner. Not only are they up against all odds for any kind of a future, but they must also do it with the emotional and psychological baggage of the abuse.

I am so overwhelmed when I hear these stories and see these kids in person. I concern myself about things such as which cell phone do I want, which credit card offers the best rewards, where am I taking my vacation this year? But to children like the aforementioned, those concerns have zero meaning. And just to put this in a different perspective, I can’t imagine my life without travel. I yearn to explore new places, undoubtedly like everyone on TB. Yet, the people here in Zambia (and just about anywhere in underdeveloped countries in Africa) will never step foot outside of their country’s borders.



klaartje1968 says:
Does it get under your skin or can you shake it off?
Posted on: Jun 19, 2009
Africancrab says:
O James, I'm glad you are experiencing that first hand, is it not amazing what is taken for granted out here vs out there?
Posted on: Jun 13, 2009
buzzbailey says:
We are very fortunate to be able to travel and see the world!
Posted on: Jun 11, 2009
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