Monday, July 20, 2009

Four Considerations

Consideration One: Given round one of me vs. Liberian malaria, how do I wish to position myself vis a vis Liberian malaria from this point forward. It is normal for expatriates in malarial reasons to swap information about their strategies for dealing with the threat or the experience of malaria. These conversations never really get old because each person's unique budgetary, risk and health calculations are often quite revealing. I considered myself an old hand at malaria, having caught it at least four times and having been dealt progressively milder and more predictable iterations. But they changed up the meds and while I caught this last batch of plasmodium earlier than ever before, the course of treatment rendered me inert and dysfunctional for three days, with a buffer of weakness and sudden exhaustion swelling the impact to nearly a week. My calculation was always that malaria was easy to spot, cheap to treat and quick to get over. But that is not true any longer and so now I am considering going back on constant drugs, which is an option that I dislike for many reasons. Since the best, designer anti-malarial option is hundreds of dollars a year and since the cheapest version can make you psychotic, I may just be on time sensitive broad spectrum antibiotics for a pile of months. I do not wish to submit to the amodiaquine lethargy again.

Consideration Two: Is it advisable to foster tiny instances of industrial revolution? As Elie and I spec out a community sewing project that seems more and more likely to merit and receive funding and support, the inclusion of a sewing machine (or sewing machines) must be considered. If there are no sewing machines, many women can work (laboriously) on an individual, hassle-free basis to produce various goods, which means a small amount of extra money spread broadly across the community. If there is a sewing machine, it must be housed, protected, paid for and equitably used. This is an interesting logistical puzzle: do we incentivize use of the sewing machine? What is a fair way to determine who uses the sewing machine and when? Since the machine would likely be purchased with a micro-finance loan, how would we determine whose efforts contribute what percentage to the paying back the financiers? Etc. The miniature industrial revolution of this machine seems likely to concentrate power in the hands of a few women and to sew dissent across the land. Pun intended, of course.

Consideration Three: How do we set up a positive sustainable model of sponsoring Liberian surfers? In most places, surfing has the reputation of distracting young people from school and academic pursuits. Here, we are in the unique position of having talented surfers asking for help with their school fees. Once we figure out how to raise the money, our first tactic, will be to show that talented surfers in Liberia can be sponsored students, receiving help towards their learning expenses and potentially receiving bonuses for good grades rather than contest performances. When the quality of talent rises to a contest level, which it will, we'll start diversifying this model. But for now, I think it's a good place to start.

Consideration Four: When do I carve time out of the upcoming week to surf? The fabled onshores of rainy season have finally switched on and begun to mow down our consistent swell with dependable heartlessness. More early mornings. Malaria and other bad winds have kept me out of the water for the longest amount of time since deplaning at Robertsfield airport and I can't wait to get wet. 

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