CBS’ hit show The Amazing Race took a turn toward the developing world the last couple of weeks, when the contestants flew to Burkina Faso (previously “Upper Volta). This season’s crop of teams includes – among others – a grandfather-grandson pairing, a father-daughter test of wills, the requisite “blondes”(although they are not as strong as last seasons’ “blondes”), an African-American set of siblings and, for the first time, a goth couple.
The teams were a little, shall we say, out of their elements. But, after landing in the capital of Ouagadougou (wah – gah- doo- goo), they raced their little hearts out – milking camels, learning 10 words, doing native dancing, panning for gold, delivering stuff by bicycle at a market, and taking lots of taxis to places they could not pronounce.
This was all very entertaining, and I asked my colleague John – who spent several months in Burkina Faso a few years back, “why Burkina?” His answer was quick – it’s safe, and pretty easy to get to, and the people there are super welcoming.” Welcoming – yes indeed, they must now think we Americans are even nuttier than they ever could have imagined. As these teams ran around, there was really no mention of what Burkina Faso is really like:
- Its population is about 13 million
- 50% of its residents are Muslim, 30% Christian, and 20% other African religions
- It is the 27th poorest nation in the world
- Girls pretty much are excluded from the educational “system” (which is not free)
- Burkinabes’ literacy rate is only 12%, ranked lowest in the world by the UNDP
Only a couple of the Amazing Race contestants seemed to notice that they were in a place of extreme poverty and stagnation. Well, if any of you are watching, or if CBS wants to be a good corporate citizen, we have some options. One of the most “popular” projects on GlobalGiving makes sure that girls get to go to school, and that they get decent meals while there. More than 365 members of the GlobalGiving community have supported it, and raised $38k+. We only need another $3650 to fully fund it. Now that’d be a cool conclusion to the race:
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