Rebuilding Foundations

An exploration of international development work in Africa

Oatmeal and Bread

Knowledge is power.

Education is important.

I don’t think I can emphasize that enough!

Knowledge is power.

The more people I meet, the more grateful I am for BC’s school system.

To illustrate this sentiment, let me tell you about the woman who sits beside me at work.  She’s on a diet.

There are few things worse than working with a woman on a diet.  Just ask the other intern, whose colleague is also dieting.  She told him one day, “Don’t ask me that!  I’m hungry and tired!  Figure it out yourself.”

But these two are on diets that I’ve never heard of.  One is trying to lose weight by only eating bread.  The other is only eating oatmeal.

An all-carb diet?  Really?

After broaching the topic of balanced eating with the woman who sits beside me, I realized she didn’t know what I was talking about.  I showed her the Canadian Food Guide and we went through it together.  I explained the four different food sections (grains, fruits + veggies, dairy products, and protein) and that it’s important to eat from all of them every day.  I also told her the best way to lose weight is to eat more vegetables and less processed food.

Again, education is important!  My body can be enigmatic to me, but it’s not an unsolvable mystery.

The cynical part of me wonders if the ZA government has purposefully left nutrition out of its education system.  More than one person here has told me he/she thinks the ANC hasn’t significantly improved education to maintain a large, uneducated black voting base.  Instead, they use vouchers and government handouts to keep people “happy” – meaning dependent on the system.

Being undernourished is not the same as being underfed.  Imagine if you ate oatmeal all day.  Your tummy would be full, but you wouldn’t have the energy needed for a vigorous life.

Undernourished people are less energetic – and fatigued people are less likely to press for change.

How many times have I heard my colleagues say, “I just want to go home and sleep”?

How awesome would it be to hear instead, “I want to go home so I can get to my community meeting this evening.”

Or, “I can’t wait to get home and go for a run.”

Or, “Tonight my kids and I are building a fort in the living room.”

Anything besides wanting to sleep or crashing in front of the TV.

I want to give everyone an apple and say, “Eat this and demand better from your government!”

Instead I just give out apples without the sermon.


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