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Portlanders serving in Africa: Your neighbours, peers share their stories

(Source: The Oregonian)
(Source: The Oregonian)

An associate professor at Reed College said “there’s both a gentleness and a fierceness to life” in East Africa. 

“When you greet someone you ask them how they are, and the answer is ‘important’,” said Reed biologist Sarah Schaack during a Skype interview from a hostel in Uganda. It’s one of her favorite aspects of the culture.

Schaack is in East Africa teaching bioinformatics and sequencing the DNA of a pest that frequently devastates the region’s staple crops. She hopes to empower African scientists to combat the pest that harms the regions health and economy.

She’s not the only Portlander with a heart for Africa. We invited readers to share stories about their experiences or highlight the service they’ve done on the continent.

From Kailey Gramberg, The School of St Jude: 

I first traveled to Tanzania in 2012. I immediately fell in love with the warmth and generosity of people and the vibrancy of the culture — the music, the dance, the language, the fabric — everything is just so alive here! I love that it takes five minutes to go through all the proper greetings with someone. The pace of life is much slower and  I’m constantly reminded to slow down and be present.

To make sure parcels arrive and incur no expenses for the school

  • Please do NOT register or insure any mail as it costs the school at least USD $25 in taxes at our end.
  • Mark all parcels as being “second-hand goods” or “personal gifts”.
  • Ensure the description of goods written on the parcel matches the actual items inside as customs and postal staff frequently inspect contents of parcels.
  • Please label all parcels clearly with the first and last name of the recipient and your full name.
  • Please put the value of the package at no more than US$10 (the lower the better).
  • Ensure that your parcel is LESS THAN 2KG. We have been advised that parcels less than 2KG are technically tax-free regardless of content, but this is not guaranteed by all postal workers.
 

Tax-free items include books, personal goods and anything that is not new. Used goods, used clothes, etc…(please remove labels and packaging from all items before sending them)

Keep in mind that parcels sent by airmail can take up to four months to get here (sea mail is even longer – often 12+ months!), so don’t worry if it takes a while for us to let you know the parcel has arrived.