Monday, March 19, 2007

Tough. Durable. Forages for Fuel.


With all the PD-practitioner focus on high-tech ways of getting the U.S. message or activities across, I worry that low-tech solutions like walking around and conversing with people in other countries gets lost in the shuffle.

This morning my UC Berkeley Arabic prof, John Hayes, forwarded this Kevin Kelly squib about a camel-based “bookmobile” program in the Kenyan outback. Strap a couple of sturdy crates filled with books to your local land beast, and away literacy goes into the countryside.

The U.S. cavalry once maintained enormous numbers of horses in a broad range of environments, and even tried camels in the Southwest during the 19th century. Not to get all Lawrence of Arabia or anything, but might not a latter-day overseas Camel Corps be an excellent vehicle for promoting literacy, vaccinations, broader medical care, and other types of outreach on a mass scale throughout the camels’ natural range? Not to mention the benefits that would come to PD practitioners in terms of their health (lots of walking), language skills, and overall familiarity with rural cultures.

Hmm. ...

P.S. How would you write “camel bookmobile” in Arabic? سيارة ألكامل ألكتب "car of the camel books"? سيارة كامل ألكتب "camel car of the books"? Or am I way off base to begin with? Any help would be appreciated.

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