A few days ago we took a semi-guided tour of many parts of the greater Moshi area. We saw some very wealthy areas. In these areas there were three story houses with servant quarters located inside the fences and the property had green grass with nicely trimmed bushes. We also saw some very poor areas. In these areas there were small multi-family/multi-generational dwellings and very few of the dwellings had doors or windows with glass panes. During our tour we discussed a question privately that we had never pondered before: Why is it that people from poorer cultures look at the Western countries and focus on the wealth that they have while people from the West look at poorer cultures and focus on the poverty?
Think about that for just a minute before drawing a conclusion. Even when visiting Mexico or Romania, if you are a Caucasian or from the West, you are wealthy. While visiting Guatemala in college our host family randomly grabbed a magazine out of the dresser. It was Better Homes and Gardens. They went through the magazine page by page and asked us if we had the items they were featuring on that page. Even though we were “poor” college kids, often times the answer was “yes.”
On the other side of the conversation, while on the tour in Moshi, our guide showed us his childhood neighborhood. We met his sister, brother, and several of his childhood friends. They worked as a type of migrant workers in sugarcane fields (possibly owned by Coke – we will investigate). Their dwellings were 15 by 20 foot duplexes that often housed seven or more people. The old, unstable, unsafe bridge pictured here connects them from the fields to their homes, but they had to cross it each day to go to work, school and other daily events.
No one in our tour van discussed the success or the wealth of the Tanzanians with three story homes, but once we saw the poverty, everyone was talking. The conversation was not judgmental or condemning, but it was clear that more interest was derived from the poor Tanzanians than from the rich Tanzanians.
We have several ideas and theories, but we would like to hear what you have to say! Comment on our post or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will discuss next week.
John & Melissa