Andi Moore is a missionary with the January 2013 O Squad of the World Race. Andi and her teammates spent 11 months traveling to 11 different countries serving God and partnering with local ministries. Andi spent three months in East Africa and experienced a taste of life without electricity.
There are a lot of things about Africa that draw World Racers: the chance to work with orphans, to see the effects of foreign aid in developing countries, to witness what poverty looks like outside the confines of home. Racers want the chance to be part of the solution, rather than remain ignorant of the problems.
One of the things we were not prepared for, however, was the constant power outages that plagued every community we visited in every country we were sent to. Understandably, in the mud huts of the rural areas, families were used to living without electricity or running water. But it was the seemingly unexplained lack of power on a sunny day or a sudden switching off of the lights in the middle of the evening that set our teeth on edge – it was never expected, and rarely was it explained.
The most dangerous places where I have personally experienced these energy crises have been in medical facilities.
I was recently admitted to a local clinic in Uganda, suffering from malaria, and during my four-day stay there were only brief interludes of electricity. The night my friend and I arrived to receive treatment the power had been out for several hours and the generator that was usually relied upon to provide electricity was not working. I refused treatment until I received a diagnosis the next morning, but I watched as my friend was greeted, interviewed, and given an IV with nothing but an oil lantern from the late 1800s to provide dim light.
I found out later that the generator they had been struggling with was reliable only, at best, 50 percent of the time. To me it felt like it would only work depending on what kind of mood it was in at the time. The staff at the clinic, however, were completely unperturbed by the stress of having no way to examine patients. It was normal to them that both the power and the generator were out.
But as a first-time patient with a very serious illness, I was less than relaxed at the idea of having my intravenous medication monitored mostly by touch rather than instruments. Not only was there no light in our rooms, but no light in the laboratory where they tested our blood for diseases, in the doctor’s office, in the reception area where they handed out medication by the pill, or in the bathroom, which was a hole in the ground – a terrifying prospect without light.
Doctors and nurses in countries experiencing energy crises are doing the best they can – better, perhaps, than a doctor from a developed country might do if he suddenly found himself in pitch-black darkness with nothing more than a match for guidance. But the energy crisis that Africa is currently suffering from is not something we can ignore.
The question is, what do we do about it?
What can we as World Racers, world travelers, or simply as world citizens do about things that happen on the other side of the world?
I am not an expert on the specifics of why these power outages are happening so often. I am, however, a witness to what is happening. I’m here now, and I cannot stay silent.
Perhaps if we continue to shed light on the darkness of life without adequate energy, the right people will be found who might have an answer as to how to help solve the problem.
Perhaps if we who see these things occurring continue to be vocal witnesses, the right organization with the right Ivy League graduates or crazy-smart tech geniuses will feel a call on their own lives to figure out what can be done about keeping the power on in a village where a mother needs to care for a young child, in a home where a teenager studies late into the evening for a test that may create for her a rare opportunity for employment, or in a clinic where medicine is frequently given by the light of an oil lantern.
The world is bigger than our own backyards; it is our community. It is time we begin to act like it.
Sign ONE’s petition urging President Obama to pass a bill that will provide 50 million Africans with reliable electricity for the first time.
The World Race is a stretching journey to 11 countries in 11 months to serve others while living in real and raw community. This unique mission trip is a challenging adventure for young adults to abandon worldly possessions and a traditional lifestyle in exchange for an understanding that it’s not about you – it’s about the kingdom.
The World Race is a ministry of Adventures in Missions, an innovative interdenominational missions organization based in Gainesville, Georgia. Adventures focuses on prayer, discipleship, mission trips, and seeing lives radically transformed by God.