Heather L. Barmore
No Pasa Nada Heather Barmore Elsewhere About
Heather L. Barmore
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Heather Barmore
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    Change In Action at Babble Voices

    Friday
    Jul032015

    There is a Light 

    "You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you'll discover will be wonderful. What you'll discover is yourself." ~Alan Alda

    I have been reluctant to discuss my recent trip to Malawi. It was the opposite of horrible and just as life-changing as everyone said it would be. Which is why  I pause because  a simple “Oh, it was good” doesn’t suffice as a response to the excited query of, “How was Malawi?!”. To say that I went in reluctantly (new people, new place, I am a creature of habit. Give me my bed, my vino and my Netflix) and that it was better than I could have dreamed sounds so…basic. The truth is that it was magical and as I previously mentioned, there was a bit of guilt while there: who am I to complain about anything ever again?  

    In the time that I have been able to allow for the hugeness of traveling across a country to settle in my brain, I continue to return to the absolute beauty of Malawi. Would you go back? I am often asked. Yes. In a heartbeat. And then I go to my phone to share these photos:

    Every single day was exactly like this complete with a majestic, vibrant sky, seemingly showing off. Every day we were surrounded by magnificence not only due to Mother Nature but because of the people we encountered who eagerly displayed the fruits of their labor. I have been concerned in the past that Americans travel to places of extreme poverty to simply gawk but it was the opposite, with hand holding and pride in their farms and livestock.

    I asked repeatedly about the sentiment towards the United States and whether or not we were truly helping. Being the cynic I am, I steadied myself for something anti-American but received the exact opposite. I was told that the US is a great partner for Malawi, that we have done much and that we are needed there. The US is one of the few countries who have been committed and continue to stay. The US doesn’t simply hand out money and walk away, we have put and continue to put people on the ground. The US is revered.

    Now, being the Congress-obsessed person I am, I have spent the last several months looking up Federal funding requests and appropriations for the upcoming fiscal year and wanting to learn more about any prudent legislation related to foreign aid. Two weeks ago, thanks to the efforts of the ONE Campaign, the House of Representatives reintroduced the Electrify Africa Act. Today, I will spare you my getting all wonky and give you the necessary details. In two days Tracey Clark will share her words and images in order to bring awareness to The Electrify Africa Act.

    I am often told that people are nervous when calling their representatitve's office in Washington but when you do call them in order to get him or her to sign on to this bipartisan bill (because I know you will) you can give out these facts:

     - Seven in 10 people in sub-Saharan Africa - nearly 600 million people - do not have basic access to electricity.
     - In 20 African countries, endemic power shortages for people at all economic levels are a way of life ( we were on Lake Malawi when we were - gasp - unable to get online. The hotel staff shrugged it off and, in the end, so did we)
     - The lack of electricity has a disproportionately negative impact on women and girls. It also results in poor healthcare, stifled economic growth, limited or no education and a lack of safety.
     
    The Electrify Africa Act of 2015 would prioritize and coordinate U.S. Government resources in sub-Saharan Africa by 2020 to:
    - Promote first-time access to electrify for at least 50 million people, particularly the poor.
    - Encourage the installation of at least an additional 20,000 megawatts of electrical power in both rural and urban areas using a broad mix of energy options.
    - Encourage in-country reforms to facilitate public-private partnerships and increase transparency in power production, distribution, and pricing.
    - Promote efficient institutional platforms that provide electrical service to rural and underserved areas.
    - ZERO cost to the American taxpayers. In fact it would SAVE money.
    You can join in by sharing your own favorite images of light and tweet using the #ElectrifyAfrica and #lightforlight hashtags. Retweet the words of many of your favorite bloggers who will be sharing more about how to Electrify Africa throughout the month of July.


     

    « For 62 Million Girls | Main | Malawi, Briefly »

    Reader Comments (1)

    heather, so beautifully put, and I feel the same way - people so excited to ask about our trip, and me not every knowing how to respond. I'll just send them right over to this post. anyway, loved this. thank you!

    July 3, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterjane maynard

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