This past Friday we met up with another couple at the cool outdoor "Holdudvar cafe" on Margaret Island in Budapest. The guy is from South Africa and his wife is Hungarian. They had some very unique experiences and stories to share.
They recently returned after working for a year with an NGO in Afghanistan. They both were involved in helping the locals get back on their feet, find productive work and stay healthy. Hearing about the conditions there--even for the foreigners with money and resources--I realized I probably couldn't handle a week. Since electricity was basically non-existent, they had to rely upon smelly gas generators in their own homes. The young Hungarian woman got e-coli after eating a salad at a wedding and was terribly sick for three months. They had a bodyguard and driver wherever they went and needed them.
They also told us about their amazing trip to Antarctica via Argentina. Their description of Antarctica was very vivid: the place is otherworldly, like Mars (as you'd imagine it), incredibly silent and serene. They also saw a glacier break in half and turn upside down in two pieces. Global warming. Finally, they told us about life in Capetown, South Africa and about all the violence there. Families are often robbed in their homes at gunpoint and carjackings are common.
Agi and I realized that the vast majority of the world has serious problems: violence, pollution and poverty. Really, there's probably just about 10% of the world that is wealthy and without serious problems: North America and Western Europe and these countries still have their share of issues.