Sunday - Angela

On the way to MSP on Friday, I saw a hearse and I had to chuckle.  Was this a sign?  My mind flashed to the extent I've gone through to prepare for a trip of this nature.  The required yellow fever shot, updates on other immunizations for diseases that we don't usually encounter in the US anymore like measles and TB, anti-malaria meds, as well as an assortment pills to deal with GI issues. Hand sanitizer, sunscreen, bug spray...the list is a little exhausting and so is my bank account now. Sadly, the amount of money I've spent on drugs for the trip will probably dwarf the amount of any souvenirs I buy.  The main reason for this is, as I understand it, is that buying handcrafted African items is not very expensive.   We talked in class before we left about negotiating prices for anything we buy at markets.  I feel uncomfortable bartering with someone who makes approximately 500 US dollars a year, so I can get their product for half of the price they originally ask. I feel like I'm contributing to the perpetual ideology that Africa is less. I'd feel much better about the ability to negotiate for the malaria preventives-and I'd definitely save more money. Instead, I feel like I just lost an arm wrestling match. Drug companies are very powerful to be able to state the price they want, and with no allowance for negotiation by the consumer, get it. Why do I, again as a consumer, get to arm wrestle a street market vendor in Kigali? Who makes up the rules for these games, and why aren't the rules questioned more often? I guess it goes back to the hearse. How much is the idea of health and wellness worth? Or a life for that matter? I wonder how many Rwandans have access to, and the means to purchase, anti-malarial meds...

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