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A man of many words. Profane, profound, loyal to a fault and a right rat bastard. I love the finer things in life: expensive cigars, cheap women and all the salted, cured meats I can eat. A friend to dogs, lover of humanity and despiser of people. If I were King the world would be a better place, because, well...I would be King! Oh, and I like ice cream.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Thoughts on Botswana

I'm coming up on the one year anniversary of finishing my Peace Corps service in Botswana.`Haven't written much about that episode of my life but a couple thoughts have been buzzing around my head in recent days.

Peace Corps released a sort of self-congratulatory video celebrating it's 39 years in Botswana. I was amazed to see how similar scenes of villages in photos from the 60s and 70s were to the village I lived in and to most of the villages I saw when I was there. The same mud and stick houses, pit latrines, chickens in the yard, etc.

Forty years of not only Peace Corps, but uncounted millions in dollars, Yen, Euros, Pounds and Renmimbi have been poured into this country and except for the Gaborone area (The Capital city) not all that much has changed. This is a country that has had no wars, has natural resources (e.g. diamonds) and a booming tourist industry.

I was struck by that because in 1975 and '76 I was stationed in South Korea with the army. At that time the countryside was pretty similar to Botswana's. Rural, under-developed, mud and stick houses, old men carrying firewood stacked high on A-frame "backpacks." Seoul, the capital was pretty modern. But once you left that city it got "country" real quick. In 2003 I returned to find an extremely modern developed country. Nothing could be found of the "old" Korea I once knew. This was a country with no outstanding natural resources and sharing a border with North Korea and their two million man army poised for attack.

I just wonder what is the difference.

This isn't about Peace Corps or any of the dozens of other Aid programs and their effectiveness. I'm not against helping others in need. It is after all the Golden Rule. But after 40 years what's the point?

1 comment:

Hani said...

Good post, Mike. A while ago I posted some relevant thoughts here http://www.hanimorsi.com/blog/index.php/archives/2010/03/24/developmental-alchemy-why-modern-development-thought-should-shed-its-obsolete-legacies/

... albeit with a slightly academic (vs your anecdotal) take on the subject.