Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Little Things

Guest Blogger:  Mason, age 15  

     What an experience this has been is just under three months. It is crazy to think that I actually live in Africa. I would have never guessed that I would someday live in another country. I keep telling myself, "This is so cool." How many Americans can say that they have lived in a third world country? How many youth can say they have lived in a foreign country? I have a really cool life, but it is hard sometimes.

     Before we arrived in Ghana, I thought the hardest things about it would be the big noticeable things, such as everyone here being dark skinned, different languages, food, and missing family and friends. I have found that those things are hard, but the little things are what really get to me. I knew that there would be small things that would be different, but I had know idea how many little things there are.

     Note to children in America: Never complain about doing the dishes again. Note to parents in America: Never let your kids complain about doing dishes again. In Ghana, dishwashers are non-existent. Everything has to be washed by hand. We recently had some people over for dinner. We spent almost the whole next day, and I am not over exaggerating by much, doing dishes. I always thought doing dishes in America was bad, but I obviously had not lived in Africa yet.

     It is very dusty here in Ghana. We leave our windows open, so that our house does not turn into an over-sized oven, but the problem with that is we then have lots of dust blown in through the open windows. We have to sweep at least every other day and mop about twice a week. Another convenience in America is vacuum cleaners. I did not think I would ever miss vacuums, but again, I obviously had not lived in Africa yet.

     It is so nice in America, that you can simply plug things in. Since we brought many items over on our container, we have many items in our house that have American plugs. If we want to use them, we have to find an adapter that is not being used (we don't have many), plug it in to the outlet, plug in whatever we are using, and then manually turn the outlet on. To make things even more complicated, if what we are using cannot handle the power voltage used here (they use a different amount of volts and hertz than we do in America), we have to use a transformer to step the power down.

     Everything in Ghana is prepaid, even electricity. Instead of receiving a monthly electric bill, we have a card that we take to an ECG (Electric Company of Ghana) sales-point. You give them the card and the amount of money you want to put on your card. Every home that has electricity has a meter on the front of the house. When your credit is finished (that is how Ghanaians would say it), the meter will beep until you stick the card in and replenish your power credits. I think it is a lot easier to get a bill in the mail each month saying how much you need to pay. On top of that we have random power outages lasting anywhere from five minutes to four days.

     Alright, here is the last thing I will list, although I could keep going for a long time. Water is rationed here. We only get running water every other week. We have a big black plastic tank in our backyard called a Polytank. We have another Polytank on the roof. The weeks when we have running water, the tanks are filled up, and we have to live off of the water in the tank for the following week. The weeks when we don't have running water is no fun if we don't have power. When we don't have running water, we get our water pressure from gravity. In other words the water level in the tank has to be higher than the faucet that is being used. We do have a water pump, but it doesn't work if we don't have power. So on weeks when we don't have running water and we lose power, we have no running water.

     In other words, America has a lot to be thankful for. I would say almost every home in America has running water all the time. If an American is without power for more than an hour they call the electric company and most likely have power again by the next day. Things can be plugged straight into the wall without having any doubts about whether a transformer is needed. These small things are the things that bug me. These are the things that I miss (other than family and friends of course). Please don't hear this as me complaining. I just want to give you a glimpse into our lives. Plus, without challenges, it is no fun. If you think about it, nothing is fun without challenges. The challenges are exciting, because we have to find ways to get past them.

     To end this, I would like to say thank you. Thank you to everyone who is supporting us. I would not be able to live this exciting life if it was not for you. Thank you for making my life exciting, and for letting me experience these challenges.

P.S.  My mom just read this and said she wished she was a guy because we have such different perspectives.

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