Between the Lines: January-February 2005

January 31, 2005

Felker Magazine Fellow Pat Adams, who reported the cover story from Tanzania, had a jarring introduction to his subject. He was finishing a bumpy eight-hour bus ride that began on the coast, at Dar es Salaam, Tanzania's largest city. His destination was Moshi, at the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro, the town in which Duke's Tanzania-based service and research programs are concentrated.

Entering Moshi, he saw a sea of people that was almost as exhilarating, and intimidating, as the sight of Africa's highest mountain. Quite a welcoming committee, he thought.

It turned out that Moshi's residents had been drawn, en masse, by news of a sensational crime. The National Bank of Commerce had been robbed of five billion Tanzanian shillings (about $1 million)--the largest bank robbery in the nation's history. For Adams, the episode sparked a traveler's dilemma: Tanzania isn't credit-card friendly, and the robbery depleted the central bank of so much cash that ATM machines were out of operation. So Adams, fittingly if frustratingly, was cash-poor in a cash-poor area.

Eventually the culprits were identified, and much of the money recovered. But it was an appropriate introduction to a country involved in a desperate struggle. Tanzania, Adams observes, is being robbed of its future. HIV/AIDS and other diseases are targeting not just the vulnerable but also the strongest, most productive citizens. Life expectancies for men and women alike are in the forties. Over time, the face on our cover will cease to be the face of Tanzania. Tanzania will become a nation without an elderly population.

In and around Moshi, Adams did find cause for hope--much of that inspired by Duke programs and Duke people. Moshi is a center of activity for concerted and caring efforts in health promotion, disease prevention, and community building. Those efforts point powerfully to the extent of Duke's reach around the globe. And they promise to help relieve Tanzania's unrelenting legacy of suffering.