I have lived a lot of my life on the road, whether that be traveling briefly to Egypt or Turkey, or spending several months or years abroad. These experiences have given me an outlook on life that I am eternally grateful for, and will never stop trying to share with others.
Unfortunately, many members of our government and country have not had the opportunity to see how others survive and make their way in the world. Now this would be completely excusable if those same people did not ridicule and belittle other cultures without knowing the first thing about how life works in other parts of the world.
Currently I am living the hut life in one of our President’s so called ‘sh!thole countries’, and I could not be happier. The Muga family lives on roughly three acres of land, spilt between a main house, a traditional kitchen, another house for one of the older sons, three volunteer huts, a cow shed, and a pit latrine/shower stall. Everything is made out of mud, wood, concrete, and sheet metal with concrete or packed dirt floors. Most of the huts have a fridge, double beds, porthole-sized windows and a bucket tap.
When we arrived in the village, a herd of kids came dashing out to greet us, shaking hands and shouting local greetings. They were soon followed by the adults, beginning an enthusiastic traditional welcoming song and inviting us into their living room. The room was stuffed full of cushy arm chairs, an old television and phone, and pictures of the family. I instantly felt like a long lost relative for whom they had been waiting.
Later that night, when we got inside the huts and opened the fridge, we saw four liters of coke, several liters of water, pineapples, watermelons and mangos all rolling around in the bottom. I went to bed that night, curled up under a mosquito net, with a smile on my face.
Within three days we felt right at home, splitting our day between building a poultry coop for the family, volunteering at the local school, and working on our own classwork. It has only taken us this long to see how life flows here. More time is set aside for sitting outside and looking at the sky or chatting with your neighbor. America is incredibly fast paced compared to most of the world. When was the last time you sat outside without your phone, without music, without a book, without someone to talk to, and just looked at the sunset? Now I know that I’m no one to be preaching about taking a moment to sit, but after a few days of just looking I felt far more energetic and enthusiastic.
While we were walking around the village, greeting people and getting the lay of the land, we ended up next to the lake shore. Our guide Raphine Muga (Kar Geno Facebook) explained that the women hurrying around were collecting sand from the lake bed. Four women will work most of everyday for two months to fill a garbage truck sized container with sand.
They are paid thirty-five dollars per load, but split between four women that is only nine dollars for two months worth of hot, exhausting, soggy, slippery work. What really put that in perspective for me was remembering when I made nine dollars in an afternoon of selling lemonade in the shady park when I was only seven, or that one drink at Starbucks is almost a month’s pay for many of the people around the world.
This experience more than any has shown me the duty I have to our world, and the people in it. I am in no way speaking for all of America, but you will be hard pressed to find an American working that hard to stay afloat, trying their absolute best, pushing themselves to their physical limit, just to put one more meal on the table, and still have time to give a stranger a smile. It seriously changed the way I think about my life. I plan on having a picture on my bedroom wall of these women, so every time I whine about school, or my love life, or how hard my life is, I remember how lucky I am and my responsibility to people like those women