Thursday, June 14, 2007

Day 8 - Mario's Blog (Orphanage and Francistown)

Web blog day ?
I’m not a Student or a professor. Take that back. Definitely a student but not at a University. I am the cinematographer on this African endeavor.

Right now I’m sittng in a combi or obese passenger van as they call it in Bots. My right leg is melting from the lack of air circulation and space between Amitesh and I. We are traveling back to Gabarone from Francistown. A 400 Km. Expedition, or literally a cross country trip of scattered goats, donkeys, and cows that speckle the highway and demand unexpected bursts of braking and adrenaline. We actually just passed an old carriage with a group of smiling people being pulled by a pack of four graceful looking donkeys. I’m not kidding the donkeys actually looked graceful. It may have been fear from seeing the truck of cattle that was in front of us.

I’m not sure how I got my hands on the computer to partake in your blog but I’m grateful for it. I’ve been with the M.B.A.’s for a week now. I’m used to traveling the world with commercial accounts not University folk. But I’m enjoying the resources of these young stars. I can easily ask for conversions of hectacres, algorithm’s for quick approximations of Celsius to Fahrenheit, corrections on Pandemic versus epidemic or immediate explanations of why children survive birth without contracting H.I.V.

So Here I am with your friends, family, and fellow students. I’m having one hell of a life experience with these guys who I’m learning more about life and humanity than I have ever learned on any of my world travels working for large corporations. First off, No fancy rooms at five star hotels. Were living with local host families in Gaborone which really throws you right into the local culture. Secondly its not just the regions best tourist spots. Were getting to see the things that people usually try to hide from tourists. For example yesterday visiting an orphanage that had a hundred plus children age 6 to 8 who are orphaned from AIDS. Seeing the USC folks hand out gifts and spend time with these kids who had nothing but a roof really has left me challenging everything I thought I knew about life. The fact that these beautiful little kids could just be left suddenly with no parents from a disease sweeping people from existence has opened my eyes to how much worse life is than traffic on the 405.

Watching the task force get involved with these kids also changed everything I felt about privileged college students. These guys really won my respect. Documenting this trip has become very personal. Its gone from doing some volunteer service to make myself feel good about my good life to believing in an idea and wanting to see it become a reality. Today when the Bishop took us to the future site of one of the schools they are trying to build and I could actually envision this whole project coming to fruition I knew that my month in Africa was more than a cool trip to help kids get school credits and for me to add another stamp in my passport.

There’s really no way to express the way I feel right now in these cramped quarters. Instead of complaining to some producer that I should be in better seating, I am smiling and grateful for the lack of space.

I am going to sign of now because Deb’s computer may die at any second. I just want to let you know that the crew is doing an amazing job gathering information and developing a plan to help a country do something extraordinary. I am also proud to be here with these guys because I really feel I am in the presence of greatness. -Mario

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