Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Modern Conveniences I Take for Granted

There is so much I take for granted in the USA. Convenience and efficiency are the norm and expectation, and it’s not until I found myself without access to many of these that I realized the impact they have on my life. Just a brief list of things that come to mind:

Can opener: We were lucky enough to have one here at the house, but it recently broke. I went around to ask the other teachers if anyone had one I could borrow, and many just laughed at me, if they even knew what it was. The answer was a resounding “no”, and all said that they just use a knife. Well, I knew I bought that Leatherman multi-tool knife for a reason before I came here, so I’m slowly becoming an expert at opening cans with a knife. Yes, hardcore, I know.

Washing machines and dryers: I do not have either, and I haven’t seen or heard of anyone having anything remotely close. I have been hand washing clothes about once every week and a half or so. This might be the most exhausting task I have encountered. You have to really wash them by hand to get them clean, rinse out all of the soap, wring them out, and hang them to dry. While it’s difficult, there is something extremely gratifying about the end result. Since I have to work so hard just to get my clothes clean, I have started to think twice about what it really means to be dirty, and let clothes go much longer without being washed than I would at home.

Hot water: I am very lucky that I have hot water. Many homes in Namibia do not, and most of the other volunteers go without hot water. While I do have access to hot water, it does not come out of the shower hot right away. We have to turn the hot water heater on, and allow the water to warm up for about an hour or so. I’ve learned to plan ahead when it comes to showering, and if I need a shower within the hour, I deal with the cold water.

These are just a few examples of what many in Namibia go without in their daily lives. I'm extremely lucky to have water and electricity, and not all homes have even these basic utilities. It makes me realize how much I have access to at home, and also that a lot of it is not necessary. I feel that with so much excess of this and that that make our lives easier, move things faster, we are often going at such a fast pace, or so accustomed to things being easy, and we don't even stop to appreciate all that we do have.

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