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June 9, 2002

Hunger and Poverty are not acts of God. They are Political choices of human beings.

-Marian Wright Edelman

After just one month in Moçambique, what strikes me most is the injustice in the world. Just yesterday I read that an estimated 15 million people in Southern Africa alone are at risk of starvation during this season. There is enough food in the world to feed everyone. In the very same article, it was stated that the money needed to provide all children in Moçambique with primary education and clean drinking water was less than what Europeans spend on ice cream annually. Ice Cream. People are dying because they only have contaminated water to drink and the problem could be solved for the price of ice cream. I am angered by the senselessness of it all. And, at the same time, overwhelmed by the scope of it. There needs to be drastic change in the world...in the attitudes of everyone. My year here does not even scratch the surface.

Just by being here, I realize how my everyday actions affect people throughout the world. I am becoming more aware and the seemingly vast world is shrinking by the minute. For that, especially, I am endlessly thankful. Just last night, I was talking to two of the students in my agriculture class. They asked me if I knew how to drive a car. They were astounded when I told them that I did. But, even more, they were astounded that my mom and my dad EACH have a car of their own. I was telling this to Luis Greia. He is 18 years old and spent much of his life fending for himself on the streets of Beira. He stands at about 4.5 feet tall a testimony to his lifelong lack of good nutrition. How do I justify my own life?

In addition, last week, a landmine was found on the school campus. Moçambique struggled through a 17 year long civil war in which both sides planted landmines. FRELIMO, the current government group and the group who won independence from Portugal, mined to protect certain areas. RENAMO, the rebel group who was supported by minority ruled South Africa and (then called) Rhodesia, mined just to wreak havoc and to keep majority-ruled FRELIMO from any success. The area in which I live is along the Beira trade corridor. It is a road and a railroad that runs from Beira, a very important port city, all the way to Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe. The corridor is vitally important to the interior countries of Africa and because of that, this area was one of the most heavily mined in the country. 10 years after the war ended with a peace accord people are still feeling the effects. Children. Civilians. There are still an estimated 2 million unexploded landmines in Moçambique alone. Farmland is rendered useless, movement is restricted. And all for just $10, the cost of a landmine, a life can be taken.

I have read all of the statistics, I have seen the figures. But, now, being here, seeing the PEOPLE who ARE the statistics, my heart can only ache. At any time, I can read that the life expectancy is 45 years old. But, it is another to walk thru the village and not see a single person old person. It is one thing to read that there are vast amounts of unexploded landmines in the world, it is another to discover one, literally, in my own back yard. It is one thing to read about sky-high infant mortality rates, and it is another to see a family celebrate when their child finally makes it to the age of 5.