Saturday, November 11, 2006

STRANGE CONTRAST

Correspondence with Esperantists in other lands stimulates one to study the geography and history of places where correspondents live in order to understand them better. Burundi is a small impoverished landlocked nation in the heart of Africa, originally Pygmy territory. You may remember a few years ago when the people suffered genocidal massacres in fights between tribes, the Hutu majority and the Tutsi minority. Hundreds of thousands were killed, and hundreds of thousands fled to adjoining countries. Recently, the U.S. accepted 10,000 Burundi refugees from camps in Rwanda. Many of them have lived in such camps so long they don't remember their lives in Burundi. Languages are Kirundi (Burundi), French, and some Swahili along the eastern border.

Burundi is the poorest nation in the world. Half of the 8,000,000 population is under the age of 14 and 56.8% of children under the age of 5 suffer from chronic malnutrition.

There is only one TV broadcast station in the country. The telephone system is primitive. There are perhaps only 25,000 internet users among the wealthiest people.

Burundi is about the size of the state of Maryland in the U.S. It has 17 provinces.

I hope you are familiar with the Esperanto pen-pal webpage (http://members.aol.com/enrike/elspeto.htm). The president of the Burundi National Association for Esperanto wrote: "Our Association has many clubs, from diverse regions of Burundi... Esperanto is spreading in Burundi. Now there is an Esperanto club in almost every province of Burundi. Our students need penpals and textbooks." Correspondence must be by the postal system because only the rich have internet access.

Did you get this? "Now there is an Esperanto club in almost every province of Burundi." Can you explain how this is possible among poorest people in the world without computers?

Compare it with the situation in the U.S., the wealthiest country in the world, where most homes have internet access, yet there are only 51 Esperanto clubs in 31 states, and they are very small and mostly stay that way.

Can you explain this disparity?

Clearly, in Burundi every poor and lowly Esperantist is enthusiastically recruiting others through personal effort.

Think about this.

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