Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Real Thing

Everyone has been asking me about my trip and I keep saying the same things over and over again, “it was amazing.” It’s kind of hard to explain everything I learned and experienced because it’s all a matter of taking it to heart. I don’t think a person could understand just how emotionally attached I got to the country if I tried to explain to them everything I saw and the people I met. The country is so different than home its unbelievable. I wish so badly that Americans, especially the wealthy, could experience what I did. They would take everything for granted and life would be so much easier. In America, children spend hundreds of dollars on video games and toys. They are never satisfied because there is something new to buy and they want and beg until they get. Then, yet again, these children want another game to play with when they get bored of what they just got. Tanzania isn’t full of all the electronics and toys. Walking around the village of Maji ya Chai, I saw many people outside, enjoying and taking pleasure with the things nature provided them. Children have fun playing with sticks and a handmade soccer balls. Rolling a tire around is just as enjoyable as any other game.

Parents are not the only ones that provide for the family. Children as young as four years old are seen walking with their livestock and getting water miles away from their home. These children have a responsibility to keep their family supplied with water and they are heavily relied on. Having a pair of shoes is lucky because many of the people walk around barefoot, begging for a pair of shoes to relieve all the pain from stepping on such rough grounds.

All I keep thinking about is how lucky I am to live in America, but then again, I think about how life would be if I had been born in a country like Tanzania. I think about my education and if I would even have one. I wonder if I would be a happier person if I didn’t know there was so much more I could have somewhere else; what would I know about the world? Would I think I had everything where I was? Thinking about this scares me to death because going from my life to theirs would be incredibly difficult. I struggled with the lack of warm and clean water. I was always dirty, even after I showered. To be honest though, the dirt didn’t bother me. My feet were always brown, no matter what and my clothes always had dirt or sweat stains. I hate to say it felt good, but it did. I didn’t have to worry about my appearance because everyone else was also just as dirty as I was, if not dirtier.

I’m completely overwhelmed back at home. I have so many clothes to choose from. My closet is probably as big as half of a house in Tanzania. I cleaned out and sold and donated the clothes I knew I would never wear again. Somehow, my closet is still completely full even though I got rid of more then half of my stuff. Since being home, I’ve worn the simple shorts and a t-shirt. When I change, I put the shirts back in the clean pile because I know I can wear things more than once before washing them, even if I stain my clothes with my lunch. Brushing my teeth feels amazing, but I feel guilty having a warm shower.

I don’t care how I look anymore to people. They can think what they want and I know I can ignore them. In the five days I’ve been home, I’ve received a prank call and someone has already put stuff on my car. I don’t care though. When these types of things happened before I went to Africa, and it happened MANY times, I would cry and complain about it. Now, I honestly don’t care what people say or do to me. They mean nothing. They know nothing. If people like this had the chance to experience what I did, they would change their behavior like I did. I’m so much calmer and patient. I don’t complain about being bored. I admit that I complained that there wasn’t any food but cereal in my house, but I guess that’s still a lot more then what the people I met on my trip have. So there’s not much need to keep whining about that. I might as well be happy that I at least have some sort of food, even if I don’t end up eating it.

Like I said, I don’t think it’s possible to explain my entire trip, even if I said everything we did through a blog. There’s more to my trip then the pictures I took. Behind the scenes, there’s a part of me that wants to cry when I think about what I experienced because it was so special. But I think a smile should come about before the tears because I’ve learned and grown so much as a person. I didn’t think a vacation based on my camera could have such an effect on me, but seeing the smiles through poverty, seeing the wildlife, seeing and meeting such kind people that don’t even know what judging a person is, has touched me so deeply and all I want to do is tell my story, even if it doesn’t make much sense to everyone.

1 comment:

  1. I can tell that this was such a heartfelt post, and I really enjoyed seeing a few of your pictures!