Mgebale (greetings) from Kampala, Uganda!
I just arrived a week ago back in Africa for the first time since volunteering here in Ethiopia for a year in 2008. I am here for the next 6 months working on the UNICEF / WHO / CDC Stop Transmission of Polio (STOP) program as a communications volunteer.
Anyway being back in my roots in Africa, yes from a few billion years ago but also into my deep understanding and appreciation of simplicity and self-sufficiency. Being back here is such a strong reminder of how little people need to exist.
I always struggle with honouring simplicity in developing countries because it is unfair for me to do so when I get to walk away from it when I choose or need but it really is the source of my learning and inspiration to learn to live more with less needs and wants. I am very careful in my discussions here when talking about how ‘rich’ Africa is in community, culture, family, time and the other aspects of life that I see as the most important ‘things’ in life. I can only acknowledge this and say that it is often lacking in the country I am from in Australia and other similar countries.
Simplicity is NOT happiness when you don’t have enough of the basic things in life. For someone in Australia I believe security is not the house they might own or the superannuation they have it really is the public services that are available and access and opportunity to food, water, sanitation, healthcare, education and freedom of persecution – although most Australians don’t feel secure with just these things…
The people I am meeting with my new role here in Uganda don’t have access to most or any of these things. It is a brutal form of simplicity that is not desirable nor should be allowed by the global community.
When I see a child begging on the street here with no pants, a stomach obviously full of parasites and no future with an education I feel a complete failure. How can humanity have failed so badly that a child does not have enough to eat when we have so much excess in the world?
However, two things I try to do in this blog and with my outlook into simplicity are:
- Not to blame others, nor point a moral finger, not to guilt, not to judge and not to be righteous in what I say or do – as we all live lives in what we see is right
- Glorify poverty – simplicity is a wonderful and rich thing but when you don’t have the very basics in life, simplicity is hell
Yes I believe the world has an obligation to better serve the extreme poor and it is something I am very active in doing but I do for my own learning, experiences and passions. But I think my blogs from Uganda on simplicity will be very lesson orientated, sharing what I am learning and maybe what the developed world can (or needs) to learn from Africa and the developing world.
I am in a very privileged position to be able to observe and interact with poverty here in Uganda. I will take lessons from it but I also believe that the lessons learned will be rich for people living in developed countries and have richer lives of people, time, community, culture and more. I’m sure this might also inspire people to add to the movement that will see greater equality, justice and chosen simplicity for all.