Boy do they know how to do community here in Bukwiri! We’re staying with a family that also runs a dormitory for a secondary (high) school, so there are always young people around!
We live in two rooms – one for sleeping and one for eating and hanging out. There is no door between the rooms, and the exterior door is always open (except when we go to sleep at night). And people come and go from our space as they please. If our neighbors want to know if we’re around, they come in and peek. If they want to have tea with us, they bring in their bowls and sit with us. If they want to take our pictures with us, they put on their nice clothes and grab us for a pose. There’s not a big value on personal space.
And, at home, I love my space – I like to be able to go away from things and have quiet, to veg a little, to decide for myself what I do with my time. I haven’t been able to do that here very much. But, hold on. Maybe I don’t need as much of that as I thought I did because, wow, I don’t think I’d want it any other way than the Bukwiri way!
Talk about a different way of life… There’s no internet, no TV, no board games. What people have are each other. People cook together, eat together, wash clothes together, haul water together, and laugh, dance, and tell stories together. That’s what “free time” is. And it’s always together.
It’s in this environment that Lizza and I have been able make friends in such a short period of time – by really being together with people. To hear their stories, to share music and meals and…
Case in point: Lizza was taking a nap and I was at the computer composing this post. A band began to play outside across the street. A couple girls came in and I went out with them immediately for an impromptu dance party – just because the music was there, and I was there, and they wanted me to be with them. Twenty minutes later, I’m back – sweaty and laughing.
This place is undeniably impoverished. But, the poverty here doesn’t look like the poverty at home. People here don’t always have clean water. People here might wear the same clothes for three days in a row. There are no cameras or computers. The electricity works 85% of the time. But, what they lack in these areas, they make up for in relationship and community – it is here that they are SO RICH.
I came here to do good work, and I have, but I am also learning SO much about the kind of life I want to live.