Two weeks ago, some of the San Miguel and city interns were given the opportunity to attend a TED Global 2013 event, streaming from Edinburgh to Panama City. A four-day event, TED Global consisted of a series of 15 minutes lectures, with Wednesday’s lectures falling under the themes of Listening to Nature, Money Talks, World on Its Head, and Regeneration.
One of the talks that especially caught my attention was Sonia Shah’s talk regarding the malaria disease. She pointed out how even though this disease has been around for thousands of years and that we have the technology to cure it, we haven’t found a way to eradicate it completely. Furthermore, the existing cultural disparity results with the people who are most effected by the disease being the ones who care least about addressing and solving this issue. Malaria is so centrally intertwined into their standard of normal life, that most don’t believe that taking measures to protect themselves is worth the time and energy.
This sparked questions within myself regarding the idea that perspective plays in society as a whole. Coming from the United States, eradicating preventable diseases such as malaria seems like something that should be one of the top priorities for developing areas of the world. I’ve even noticed this idea of differing perspectives since arriving in Panamá as well. One of the neighboring towns had $15,000 available for a community project that they had to decide how to use. From my perspective, the most beneficial and practical way to spend the money is by installing filters and ways to ensure cleaner, healthier drinking water for the community. However, from the community’s perspective, building a turf soccer field was what they decided was the best route to take. Their perspective on what is important within their communities greatly differs from what I would deem as important. And yet, part of what I’ve learned during my time in Panamá is that just because these perspectives are different from my own, by no means are they incorrect. They reflect the culture and importance to the people who have and will most likely reside in their local communities for the majority of their lives.
-Written by Emily O’Coonahern