This course struck me as a chance to make real change in an area I haven’t been as involved in as I’d like in the past. Since my high school years I’ve known I want to help make a difference in the world in whatever ways I can, big or small. Helping to empower a rural community economically speaks directly to what I want to help accomplish in the future as an economic development director. Like most folks in my generation I also care about the environment, so when economic empowerment can meet with helping to start a recycling center, that’s definitely a project I would be proud to help come to fruition. The chance to travel abroad and work directly on an international project on the ground is certainly enticing to a reluctantly infrequent traveler such as myself as well.
As a political science major, I see the world in terms of issues that I could hopefully work to help solve via innovation and compromise. Yet as a college student rarely do I have the chance to actually work on those issues, even at a local level. The ability to experience direct problem solving and innovation firsthand can only help to make me both a better political science student and person as a whole. Within the class itself, I envision the presentations our groups will be giving in front of panels to be especially helpful in developing my communication skills and to improve my process of refining projects. If, as the Fellows who took part in the program last year said would occur, the panelists ask questions we as a group had never considered and essentially take us to task on our project, there’s some definite nervous apprehension. But that’s overshadowed by the excitement that brings via the realization I don’t believe I’ve truly had that honest and direct of feedback before on an ongoing project and the opportunity is promising.
As demonstrated in the video we watched in class, a population’s economic status needs to be considered when examining solutions to a problem. This is true in the case of Kenya’s eye troubles. The major issue in developing countries when public health is concerned is often a lack of information and stigma. For example, in some countries a disability such as blindness often makes a person “worthless” in the eyes of their community members they become simply another mouth to feed who can’t take care of themselves. Education therefore can make a difference in cases like that. Similarly, when a population has so few trained optometrists, educating more of the population to become optometrists must be part of the solution. 1 optometrist per 1 million people is unacceptable and unsustainable. Prices for these doctors and their treatments can’t be exorbitant so as to prevent the people who need them most from being able to utilize their services. Instead, prices must be flexible. Indeed, some work will likely have to be done pro bono as well. In terms of the materials for eyeglasses, they will need to be readily available in country for reasonable prices that won’t be too expensive for the average consumer. A manufacturing process that doesn’t break the bank would also be necessary for this to occur. Although these are simple answers to a complex question, I think they’d be a good start to helping solve the crisis in Kenya and perhaps in other developing countries with the same problem as well.