Sometimes it takes living somewhere completely different to fully realize all of the things you should be grateful for at home. While most important on that list should be family and friends – in terms of machines of convince – you might be surprised to reflect on some of the most basic things we use everyday at home without ever thinking about them.
1. Washing machine
How much do you fully enjoy that you can clean and dry your clothes within 3 hours with no more work than pressing some buttons? Seriously amazing. When it comes to living in Uganda – all clothes are washed by hand. This means going to the well to collect the water – bringing it back and setting up a system to hand scrub each article of clothing with a bar of soap, with a double round of rinsing and then laying out on the grass to dry. It takes some practice to get your clothes fully clean as well as a couple hours of time. If you are washing for multiple people – it’s a full time activity.
2. Water from the wall
When you are thirsty for a glass of water – you might just go to the tap and pour yourself a tall glass of fresh water. Not everyone in the world has that privilege. Here in the villages of Uganda – to get one glass of water you must first walk to the nearest well (which might be many miles) and then fill up these 20 liter yellow plastic jugs. On the way home gather firewood and balance it on top of your head. Once returning home, start a fire and boil the water pot by pot. Once the water has boiled for at least 10-15 minutes – you leave to cool. In a couple hours the water will have cooled to room temperature and you may finally take your glass of water. Think of how much water you use everyday – for showers, for washing dishes, for washing clothes, for drinking and for cooking – all you might do is turn a knob…
Need to keep your food from spoiling? Maybe you have left overs from last nights dinner? Maybe you don’t feel like going to the store everyday so you buy enough food for the entire week in one trip? Again, that is a privilege that some might now think about every time they open the fridge door. Refrigerators not only help store food for longer periods, but help to keep food safe from diseases and contamination. It is very rare to find refrigerators in Uganda and almost non – existent outside the cities.
4. Light bulbs
This one seems obvious. But you might not fully appreciate how the rhythms of life are so greatly affected by the absence of light at night. While some places you might find people use candles to help give them light at night – many homes do not have that privilege. If there is work that you need light to complete that isn’t near the fire – you better get it done by the time the sun drops below the horizon. Very different from just walking into any room and switching on the light.
Just want a quick hot meal – no problem, run over to the stove and pour your food into the pan, turn the knob and… Wait. Not everywhere can that happen. Almost everywhere in Uganda food is prepared over a fire. Even in the cities, women bend over hot, one pot charcoal stoves and produce some delicious multiple dish meals. There are no ovens. If you want to make a meal – you must first start the fire and wait for the coals to be ready. Then you adjust the temperature by adding more or less charcoal to the stove.