Why do we need to be on the ground? Part 2 – Experience

By | 15th June 2017

One thing that we will never replace is the hands-on experience of life. We can read what we want, listen to people, watch documentaries or spend 2 weeks holidays, we will never fully comprehend how it is to live in certain settings.

How is it to not have a tab to get water, no electricity to brighten the house as in full day, no fire place to warm up in , no signal to call in case of emergency or just to say hi?

And even living there for some time, I do not really fully experience all of this… But I do get a much better understanding:

Yes, I don’t have a tap nearby and I need to go 6 km away to get water… I do learn how difficult it can be to watch every drop, re-use as much as possible so that we maximise every litre… but I do have a car, and so, I do not fully experience the limitation of how many jerrican I can take or how heavy it is to carry 25 litres on my head for 6 km (having already walked in the sand for 6 km to get there…). I do have the luxury to be able to carry 150 litres in one trip, driving there and back… but one still have to be mindful of the fuel… it is nearly 200 km to the next petrol station, so you still need to watch what you use… you can’t just drive every day…

Yes, I don’t have electricity at the main plug. But I do have electricity because I have a solar panel. However this is still not like a full house electricity. You learn to use daylight to the most, you learn to have smaller lights, you learn to be clever with your radio and computer, cooking by day so that you don’t strain under low light at night…. Despite this I do still have more luxury than some because I do have some electricity…

Yes, I don’t have a fire place for winter night (I do not have heating in Maya). But I do have good insulation and a warm blanket for the night. And in the evening, well, either I stay in Maya or I go around the outside fire (which sometimes is not as warm as in Maya as we are still sitting outside…). So despite no heating, I still have warmer nights than some… (just to confirm: African winter nights are actually cold here…).

Yes, I don’t have a signal for the phone or internet. But I do have a car to drive the 30 km that might allow me to use internet. And if not now, I will be within range at some point this year because while travelling there will always be a time when I have reception… So despite no internet this week, this month, I can still have it at some point…

And we could go on…

So by living in the field and despite the fact that I do have more luxury than some, I still get a better feel and experience of some of the difficulties to live in some areas. What are the challenges that people face every day, how do they deal with them, how do we do differently to adapt. But also how we can improve slightly… because while I do not have the same than at home some of my small settings are easy to implement.


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