I sit through class after class listening to the injustices people in Africa experience daily. Not to generalize an entire continent, but the amount of suffering that this place holds is enough to make me believe in hell on earth. 1.3 million people in sub-Saharan Africa die of AIDS each year. The oil I put in my car comes from companies exploiting local Nigerian economies and livelihood. 18% of all children in Somalia will die before age 5. Subsistence farm lands in Ethiopia are being taken from farmers and sold to high paying companies in order to produce cash crops for rich countries like Saudi Arabia.
The list doesn't stop. And all I do is sit and listen as these statistics, these heartbreaking realities are thrown in my face daily. But my reality is so much different. I can leave class and eat almost any food I want to. I have access to clean and safe drinking water, did you know that 1 in 6 people in the world don't? If I have a medical emergency, I can receive treatment within minutes. My life is overflowing with blessings that I didn't work for, that I don't deserve and that I consistently take for granted. I live in the 1 percent of the world who has access to a college education, occupation and a life relatively free from suffering or discomfort.
The last thing I want to do is paint a sentimental picture of sub-Saharan Africa, full of suffering people who need the superman of the West to come and save them. I do not want to perpetuate the stereotype of starving malnourished children in Africa - you know the children we tell our children about if they don't eat all their food at the dinner table. Yes there are many malnourished children in Africa, but there are happy children too. There is so much suffering in this place, but don't trivialize it, ignore it or exploit it.
It should make us genuinely angry. It should upset us that our brothers and sisters consistently get the short end of the stick. I am not pointing fingers or blaming one government over another. But I am saying that greedy and selfish leaders from all over have inflicted, perpetuated or closed their eyes as immense suffering overburdens the poor, destitute, sick, marginalized and unwanted.
This should mobilize us into action. Not a top down, paternalistic let me save you type of action - but instead a beautiful joining of different colored hands in agreement to share suffering until justice is found. I cannot just sit in class anymore.