Sunday, June 26, 2011

Home Again

A cooking fire in Asikuma, Ghana.
The former residence of a mother and five children, in Nungua. That mom and children are now in a better place, but a new family has moved in.
Typical bathing and restroom facility for Ghanaian families.
Preparing the next meal. Just stirring the pot would exhaust me for the day!

Home, home, HOME!!! I am home from Ghana. The kids and hubby seem no worse for the wear. I thinking lucky number 13 in marriage years must be something special, because Eric has earned major hubby points since I got home! He has been so very sensitive to my needs. "What can I make you for dinner honey?" "Let me rub your swollen feet, sweetie." "Kids, let mommy rest." Our wireless router went ka-put and he's spent hours dealing with it today so that I could have the internet access I need for work (and to send pics to waiting parents who are waiting for them)! So very thankful for my Eric.

So....home. Back to the land of excess and access. Sometimes I come home and feel guilty for living in such luxury. Sometimes I feel my spirit fighting against our wasteful culture. In the interest of keeping it real, I'm telling you, it honestly feels good to be back where living is so EASY!

Thirsty? Step right over to the sink where you can get fresh cold drinking water 7 days a week--water that won't give you parasites and tastes good. Don't want water? Have a cold soda, or milk, or a juice, or vitamin enriched flavored water from the fridge.

Want a shower? Enjoy piped water 24/7, cold OR hot! No need to worry about using all the water in the tank. It never runs out! No need to worry about the water going into your mouth--you can drink it if you want to!

Dirty Laundry? Why, just throw your clothes in this washer with super-good smelling detergent and in half an hour it's more clean than you could ever accomplish with a bucket of water and a bar of soap. Need the clothes in an hour or two? Just throw them in this other machine and they will be dry in a jiffy!

Your child needs education? No problem! Free education, classes pre-K through 12th grade for every child! This includes books and learning materials, teachers, and good facilitiesm and even transportation. No money for food or school supplies? No worries. Those will be provided for free for your child if you are in need of those things.

Want to go online? Here ya go! Wireless internet instantly. Download/upload as much as you want. There's no limit to the amount of data you can use. You'll never run out of "units!" Don't have internet at your house? No problem. Go to one of thousands of public restaurants that give patrons free wireless internet.

Hot? Turn down the central a/c and enjoy the cool air--at either home or in the car!

Need to go somewhere? Enjoy mostly pot-hole-free roads, with organized traffic. Enjoy your dependable vehicle that still sports a/c (or heat), shocks, and a full tank of gas. Travel just a few minutes to a variety of stores that will give you more product choices than you could ever take advantage of.

Sick? Head right on over to one of the many hospitals or clinics in your area. Too sick to drive? Call 911 and an ambulance will transport you in good time to a hospital that has doctors on duty and medicine to give you!

Oh, America. Even our poor are rich by global standards. I don't feel guilty for enjoying all of the amenities we have here, but I will never take my life for granted. I don't ever want to lose sight of the fact that there are smarter, better, more deserving people than I who are living in much more difficult circumstances simply because of where they were born. I am NO BETTER than these people.

I am a middle class American. My friend M is a middle class Ghanaian. She is a married mom, as am I. This trip, I found myself comparing our lives. I wasn't comparing for "better" or "worse," for I don't believe one life is "better" than the other. Our lives are different. Mostly, I spent my time thinking about what a stronger person she is than I am. As a middle class modern Ghanaian woman, she gets up at 5am to start caring for her family. She does the wash (by hand). She prepares breakfast (without the convenience of quick processed foods). She cleans house. She bathes the children. She takes the kids to school (bio and foster kids). THEN her work day starts. Without the use of a vehicle she pays good money each day to a taxi driver. No a/c. Horrible traffic. Horrible roads that she may or may not be able to pass through. When the vehicle can take her no further, she walks to her destination. At end of the work day she collects the children from school. She begins cooking an evening meal that may take hours to prepare. She deals with work correspondence on an internet network that may or may not be working well. She helps kids with homework. She washes the dishes. She bathes the children (again). She falls into bed sometime around 11pm. It starts again the next day. Oh, did I mention that she does it all herself while her husbands works hours away during the work week, only to come home on weekends?

SHE IS STRONG. I described one of her easy days. I didn't describe the day where her baby is sick and she spends 8 hours waiting at the hospital only to be told the lab is closed, the doctors have gone home, and she should come back in 2 days! I didn't describe the day where it's raining hard and she is soaked to the bone while riding in the taxi, or worse, can't do her work because the roads are simply too bad. I didn't describe how she has to air the mattresses each day for the kids who are incontinent at night (no pull ups in Ghana). I'm sure I didn't mention many of the things she does to keep her family thriving each day. And by Ghanaian standards, my friend has an "easy" life. She has money to take her baby to the doctor. She has money to hire a taxi and put the kids in school. She has food to cook. She is literate--can read and write and even knows how to use the computer.

It's interesting to think about, isn't it? Standards of living. I think my friend's life is hard. I also envy some aspects of her life. Ghanaians haven't forgotten how to survive on their own. They know how to grow food, and cook from fire, and make due with the water that is available. If ever the world is hit by some catastrophic event, I want to be in Ghana where people remember how to live without many luxuries!!! Quite frankly, I think most people in America wouldn't know what to do without everything being handed to us on a silver spoon. I digress....

I am home. I am thankful for my home. I am thankful for my country (as imperfect as it is). I am thankful that the Lord has given me the opportunity to learn from my Ghanaian friends and family.


Mama D.'s Dozen 9:33 PM  

Welcome Home ... to the land of plenty.


Alysa 9:50 PM  

You are right. I think in all our wealth we completely forget how much we have and at the same time become totally dependent on having so much.

mommajeane 7:14 AM  

Welcome home...Glad I got to meet you in Ghana as well as here before. You were an angel of help to my emotions back in March- May. Thankfully we have our children home and as much as I too love the people of all the countries I have been to...there is no place like the good ole USA. I too thank the Lord for this but also for the precious children and relationships in the other countries...Thank you again for your kindness and wisdom.

Dozen Senses 8:55 PM  

Welcome home Anita. Reading your blog while you were in Ghana was inspiring. Of course that's not different than reading your blog while you're in USA. (Inspiring.) I so admire your work. Did you visit Good Shepherd Orphanage in Ofaakor? No expectation from my end of course, just curious. I know there are more than a few orphanages there that have the name "Good Shepherd".