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Glimmers of Hope: Memoir of a Volunteer in Africa Paperback – October 23, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (October 23, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1449566871
  • ISBN-13: 978-1449566876
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,020,572 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

The author is a teacher. He is married and now lives in Canada.

More About the Author

The author is a History and Mathematics teacher from the UK. He now lives in Ottawa , Canada. In addition to his memoir of Zambia, he has written a travel memoir of his expedition to Guyana, and a set of revision guides for high school mathematics in Ontario.

Customer Reviews

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Sarah Grant on March 25, 2010
Format: Paperback
I have loved reading this book! - A good mix of humor, real-life stories and important lessons for us all concerned with development. I highly recommend this book to anyone with a deep desire to change the world and with a love for sub-Saharan Africa, especially Zambia.

Having lived in the rural parts of Zambia for close to three years engaging in forestry and development work, I appreciated the voice that Mark has given to many of the same feelings and observations that I have experienced in my own time living and working within the country. While on one hand we are not native Zambian or even citizens of the country, I believe that there is also a tremendous amount of value in the views of an insightful individual who lives with local communities not for the 2-3 weeks or even 2-3 months of most study-abroad or volunteer programs - but for several years. After the initial feelings of pity ebb away for a group that you identify as poor, one engages in a shift whereby you view people as the individuals that they are....strengths, flaws and all. I believe that it is a major fault of many aid programs thus far that money is spent on a region or school or individual simply because they are poor, rather than taking a moment to assess their character and focus on why things are the way that they are.

The kind of experience that Mark was exposed to in Zambia is different and in many ways more educational than those of many who lead development efforts from air conditioned offices in capital cities. With all due respect to everyone who engages in trying to make the world a better place, many important aspects of development are missing right now and Mark does an excellent job of recounting through specific stories how the mindset and habits of individuals is creating more of an influence on levels of poverty than levels of money donated to the cause.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By jimbo on July 22, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a great read for anyone who has volunteered in Africa, or is contemplated doing so, as it provides valuable insight. While this book obviously was not edited by a professional (self-published?) and contains grammatical errors and missing words at times, it is still well worth buying and reading if you overlook these issues.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J. Vasilius on October 3, 2010
Format: Paperback
Glimmers of Hope is essential reading for anyone comtemplating volunteering in the developing world. Mark's experiences are related in an anecdotal style, and deal with experiences both of illumination and disillusionment. He confronts both the light and dark side if aid, Western sterotypes of Africans and African sterotypes of Western visitors, the difficulties of living in an isolated rural village, the complexity of problems and the difficulty of solution. He also finda courage in the bleakest situations and corruption in the most comfortable. The book could stand some strict editing and even stricter proofreading, but is a commendable work. Mark is as critical in his examnination of self as he is of his teaching experience.

While my own volunteer efforts are much more limited than were Mark's, I keep finding common threads. I remember waiting three hours until the invited speaker showed up, the expectation that I was a bank, and the refusal to start a training class because there was no easel for the display board. The omnipresence of nshima is cogently addressed. I have shared this book with several international volunteers, they praised the book and said they wished they had read the book before their volunteer service. Not because it would have discouraged them from volunterring, but because Mark's experience and observations are so typical that reading the book would have saved them a great deal of frustration and mistakes.

Whether you plan to visit sub-Saharan Africa as a tourist, or wish to serve as a volunteer in the "third world," you would well to read Glimmers of Hope.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It is the Cri de Coeur of a young man looking for the meaning of life, a recognition that some how something is missing. To start, getting away from the hum drum of satisfied middle class existence paved the way to a conscious self knowing. Happenstance and an array of personal events opened up spaces to be explored and discovered. These half known trails provide the impetus to move on, the internal drive to leap into the abyss, On his return, he gained more self understanding, as well as, the insight that middle class privilege can be shared to assuage our cosmic loneliness and thereby meaning.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I spent two years volunteering in the same district as Mr. Burke, although I lived in a more rural setting, and worked several years after him. Nevertheless, I was intrigued to see the similarities between our experiences, and the joys and challenges and sorrows that life in Zambia brings to any who live there. He includes some interesting and very amusing anecdotes about life in Zambia- for instance his description of receiving a haircut made me laugh out right. His discussions of the challenges to development and of the corruption in government institutions and in NGOs that ostensibly help Zambians are, sadly, quite to the point. I was fortunate to work with villagers in agriculture, and hence had fewer encounters with corrupt officials. I do think his assessment of Zambian culture is overly harsh. I wish he had taken more time to understand the importance and the nature of traditional, or animistic, beliefs in Zambia. Many of his criticisms of the Christian church in Zambia are also, sadly, correct; although in my experience there are many Zambian Christians who genuinely try to follow their faith, and positive aspects to the religion, too. Overall I applaud Mr. Burke's persistence and service to Zambian students, and openness in sharing his experience. While I don't agree with all his opinions, I recommend this book to those who are considering volunteering in Zambia.
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