What’s the plan?

If you read my last post, you read that I’m aiming at developmental aid, yet I’m studying Environmental Science. It’s all logical, trust me. But it is still a work in progress so if you (yes, you there, reader) have experience in such adventures and spot a major flaw, please find some way of talking to me about it. Thank you!

I’m going to South Africa in January because I have never been overseas before. Ever. I only got my passport this year. I feel like this is an important step in learning how to operate in someone else’s home country, in their culture, in their currency and many other things, to just name three that start with ‘c’. I know that voluntourism is not the most effective method of aid but this is just as much a learning adventure for me so that I can get a little perspective.

I specifically want to focus on soil and water quality. I see a chain of change that starts with these elements. If these are healthier then agriculture can be more productive, then malnutrition decreases and income increases. With less malnutrition there are also less secondary effects like getting randomly sick with other things all the time. If kids get less ear infections and colds then they can spend more time in school and have more energy for being kids. And that can only do good things for employment. Hopefully from there, people would be able to read the bible together. Communities could afford to employ more medical staff.

Someone I know has quite a lot of knowledge about causes of poverty and how tackle it. She very wisely invests in education. And I agree that education is vital to escaping poverty in developing countries and vital to escaping ignorance every where else. But I speculate that a child could receive the best schooling in the world but it won’t help much if she dies of starvation before teenager-hood. Teaching is a very noble thing and I encourage more people to pursue it, and to invest in it. But personally, I feel I can be more helpful if I go play in the mud. Which is where the Environmental Science comes in.

To start with it looks like mud. But it’s so much more complex than that. Let me just rant for a paragraph or so. You’ve got chemicals, elements, compounds and nutrients huddling around aluminosilicates. There’s a whole array of micro-organisms which I have yet to learn about. But they can determine how available plant food is to the plants. They take dead stuff and turn it into stuff that can make life! Then you’ve got physical parameters like grain size and soil wetness. This determines how much water can get into the soil, dissolve the nutrients and take them up to the plants. Acidity and salinity are super easy to measure and diagnose and make a huge difference to the health of crops. And don’t even get me started on water. I’ve been studying for two years and I know that there’s exponentially more to learn. I can’t wait.

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