Traverse City Record-Eagle


January 6, 2013

A dollar a day

Kelto on poverty

Grinding material poverty does not mean spiritual poverty. Anders Kelto has found the Africans he meets in general to be generous, welcoming and kind hosts, interview subjects and friends.

A recent interview took him to the shantytown shack of a Nairobi single mother of three. With little to share and children to provide for, the gracious hostess presented a formal tea with many delicacies.

"Poor people suffer through a lot, it's grueling, very difficult to survive," Kelto said. "The struggle for survival is something that most people here can't comprehend."

Living on a dollar a day with prices rising for everything, families still strive to improve the lives of their children. Tightly woven communities take care of each other even in crammed shantytowns, like one in South Africa where 500,000 people are packed together in one township.

Drugs, disease and dysfunction take an enormous toll, as does war. People are frustrated by the problems, from corrupt rulers to terrible education. Kelto also said he sees a pride — a hope among African people he meets coupled with a determination to influence the future.

"I get very turned off by people who say, 'Oh, poor them,'" he said. "The fact is that life is a struggle for most people, we're the ones that don't understand it."

America is still the most generous of nations in terms of aid to African nations. Kelto believes many residents would instantly come to America if given the chance, eager for opportunities to improve their lives. The better solution, however, is to bring stability, growth and opportunity to Africa.

"A lot of people I've met are not envious of Americans," he said.

-- Carol South

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