I’m sitting on the porch of the farm where I’m living, overlooking an amazing view and thinking about the three weeks that I have spent with Dandelion Africa so far. My name is Maja and I study Diversity at Malmo University. I got in touch with the organization through a friend, and I’m here for an internship during one semester. Something that instantly becomes clear is that no matter how much you have read and thought you understood in the academic literature, the theories and their logic all make up an abstract cloud far from reality. Studies and theories aside, something I have learned is that without experience, great people with fighting spirits, hearts of gold and feet on the ground, change will always be out of reach. Luckily, this organization has plenty of that within its walls. Rarely, or potentially never, have I met such good hearted people with so much good will and fighting spirit; so much is being done here.
During the short time I’ve been here, I have learned about table banking, undergone training in all the areas of the organization’s work, conducted a fundraising campaign for the Let it Flow project together with two other volunteers, carried out interviews and written reports, and conducted informative and interactive seminars. All this with a lot of laughter and joy. An amazingly educational time that no books in the world could beat. It’s in those meetings with other people that it becomes clear how your own reality can look so different. A reality that you often take for granted. During my time here, we have also prepared and executed the first in a row of Free Clinic days in marginalized villages. In this case, that means driving until the end of the dirt road, and then continuing on a bit further still. The more common, white and sterile hospital environment is exchanged for tiny classrooms and camping tents, temporarily serving as doctor’s offices. This might be unthinkable to some, but is actually a privilege to many others. To be able to seek medical care or make decisions about family size are not a given for everyone.
It’s not just about the right to health on an individual level; in order to change society there is a need for a wider struggle and change on many levels. The access to health care, contraceptives, and information is one of them. How are you going to change your situation and society at large, if you don’t have your health? Another thing that has caught my interest is the obvious gender divide. An important part of the Free Clinic was family planning, which includes information on reproduction, sexual health, and contraceptives. That child care is considered women’s work is nothing new to me, but among all the women present, with or without children, I didn’t see a single man accompanying them. That made me even more surprised. Isn’t the “head of the family”, as the story often goes, a part of the family and concerned about its health? Don’t get me wrong, in case only women and children had shown up that day my interpretation would be different, but a number of men did show up for themselves – just not with their families. That there is an important need for empowerment and support of women in particular becomes, for that reason, very obvious to me. That’s why I’m incredibly grateful for the chance to be part of the amazing struggle that Dandelion Africa is leading.