Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Girl Effect

Just reading through some articles for my research meeting on Kenya tomorrow afternoon. We're working on a project promoting sustainable agriculture with the grain Amaranth. It's drought resistant, highly nutritious, and generally well-suited to the climate.

A team of students and faculty will be traveling to Kenya in August if there is no post-referendum violence. The last election did not go well, but we're keeping our fingers crossed.

I am not going this time. I am sending my student instead.

In some ways this is practical: I don't have a ton of time.

It is also selfish: I'd rather do this kind of thing with the whole family when the boys are older.

And a bit charitable: I can send a student instead. I've had the good fortune to travel around the world a little. I want to share that with our students. Funding is tight, and I REALLY benefit by sending a student. She goes, I get all the data, she gets the life-changing experience, and I get to not upset my routine and the lives of my small children.

Anyway, in preparation for the team leaving we meet on a weekly basis and read a TON of articles each time. Here are some excruciating facts:

Life expectancy in sub-Saharan Africa is 47 years*. imagine if that was your life expectancy. Imagine it. Really think about it. By that count I would have 11 years left, and would leave behind a 13 and a 15 year old. Beyond sad.

One in 9 Tanzanian children still dies before the age of five*.

These stark facts remind me of the Girl Effect video.

I am in love with this concept. Not only because it's inspiring and uplifting when SO MANY environmental/social problems are depressing, but also because I've seen it in my work in Kenya and India.

**Both facts from the article: Lowell, B., Conway, M., Keesmaat, S., and Richardson, B. (2010). Strengthening sub-Saharan Africa's health systems: A practical approach. McKinsey Quarterly.

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