Zims adept at making a plan(01-02-07)

BULAWAYO - "Does the world know what is happening here?" asks a young man pushing a cart down the deserted streets of Bulawayo. "Or have they forgotten us?"
It is a question I can't answer. How do I explain that most New Yorkers who agonize over subway delays and gas prices

don’t fully understand a world where survival is an ongoing battle? New Yorkers worry about which kindergarten will accept their unborn children. In Zimbabwe they worry about how they will feed and protect another child.
The statistics are shocking. Nearly every third child in Zimbabwe is an orphan. One in eight children will die before age five. Average life expectancy is the lowest in the world.
The rural poor are eating field mice.
Authoritarian President Robert Mugabe’s land-confiscation policies have impoverished the country to the point that even ox-drawn ambulances are a luxury. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has called Zimbabwe an ‘outpost of tyranny.’ It is a place where human rights are systematically ignored and trampled. The result is suffering and sacrifice beyond belief.
As an American born and bred in New York City, I was appalled to learn of the depth of the suffering. As a citizen of the world I resolved to see it with my own eyes so that I could help improve their plight.
I arrived in a country with an official annual inflation rate in excess of 1,000 percent. Prices rise weekly, sometimes hourly. Infants are sold on the capital city streets for the equivalent of US$30. Unsold infants are dumped in drains and sewers.
How does one survive in these conditions? “You make a plan,” I was told. This is the answer you will get if you ask a lodge owner in a town where tourism is virtually unheard of. It is what you will hear from a Coca-Cola distributor in a country that has no gasoline or fuel. From the taxicab driver, to the donkey-cart owner; from the rafting guide to the impoverished villager, they all “make a plan” to survive.
I realized we all “make a plan,” when a street peddler offered me hand-made trinkets in exchange for my shoes and clothing. Whether we live in New York or Zimbabwe and whether we’re trying to navigate rush hour traffic or survive another day, we all make plans to move our lives forward.
More crucially, I realized the urgent need for the developed world to pause and contemplate the resilience of the Zimbabwean people. It is our duty to integrate their awesome power of determination into our own lives, and our responsibility to deploy that will to better their lot.
It is an obligation we cannot forsake. We must “make a plan” today.

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