Christian Long

Ory Okolloh: Becoming An Activist

In TED Talks on April 18, 2010 at 10:20 pm

Reflection by BRITTANY M.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Ory Okolloh:  Becoming An Activist

Ory Okolloh tells her story of going from a African girl raised up in poverty to a Harvard graduate speaking at a TED conference.

She speaks to help inspire those wanting to become an activist and interested in ways to get started or learn where to begin. She tells her story of growing up into a poor family in Kenya who did everything possible to make sure their exceptionally bright daughter received the best education possible, which was not from the free elementary school down the road. In order for her to receive this education they sent her to a rather pricey private Catholic school which was considered to be a better school. She talks of being constantly taken out of class due to there financial struggles of keeping up with the payments.

I think this helps shows how much the more fortunate countries take an education for granted. In America for instance, children are required to be enlisted in a school. Almost every city in America is equipped with a public school for children to attend to for free and receive an education. Although not all children may see the upside to this luxury, there are children in other countries who would do almost anything to have that option. Instead many children are forced to go to war or spend everyday working around the home to help with the agriculture or shops of their families just to survive.

She continues to tell the story of her father who was diagnosed and died from AIDS, another issue in Africa.

She speaks of how they could barely afford the medicine which was required to keep him alive and how he died while awaiting the ambulance which was to take him to the public hospital. They pills which he needed ran thirty dollars each, which is very pricey for a family doing whatever they can just to get bye. They had him on a water drip hoping that would hold him over until the bank would open and they could extract the money needed to save him.

She does not tell her stories to cause you to feel guilty for what privileges you have or to pity her and her family, she tells her stories to help show the potential stored up in Africa and its people. She is tired of people just looking at Africa’s faults and problems of disease and war and starvation and poverty. She wants people to hear the miracle stories of people like her who make it to be a Harvard graduate and make money to provide for not only herself but her family as well.

The point is to see Africa as a country of strong potential and not as a huge land mass to pity. It is our job to step up and lend a helping hand to a country in need instead of sitting at home and saying how sad it is but not stepping up and doing it. Society has taught us to follow the path of school, job, marriage, and family. There is nothing wrong with these things but it can make the idea of devoting your life to living in another country very intimidating and hold back many activist. It is our job as the future of the globe to step up and start caring at all ages, not just during commercials with sad images who are asking for money.

If we don’t step up now then who will?


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