A new definition of normalcy.

As of late, I’ve come to the realization that after one lives in Bawjiase for an extended period of time, there are certain aspects of my life here that I consider to be completely “normal”.  Because Becca, Vlad and I have all been here for extended and multiple periods of time, we’ve sort of forgotten that these things may not be considered “normal” in our countries of origin.  In light of this realization, I’ve decided to dedicate this blog post to describe what I now consider to be normal.

Our well has completely dried up, (due to the fact that it hasn’t really rained in about 2 weeks) so we are living with very limited water.  Lucky for us, the orphanage well is much deeper than the one close to our house, so we’ve been going to the orphanage to bath (on days when we consider it necessary, like if I’m covered in mud from working on the farm).  It’s interesting how when you live with limited water, you  forget that you come from a place where the water never runs out.  It may be fun for you to try living for an entire day only using one bucket of water – this is something many people in Bawjiase are doing right now.

There has also been an abnormally high infestation of bugs in our house as of late, and they’ve been turning up in some pretty inconvenient places (aka… giant spiders in my bed and in the toilet paper roll, cockroaches in the bucket I’m using to bath, and ants in our food).  While the cockroaches (which are about the size of a  frog) are pretty gross, I’ve considered our house insects pretty normal, and have given up trying to kill them.  I even talk to them occasionally.

I’ve become unfazed by multiple marriage proposals per day, and men in the internet cafe staring at me without blinking for extended periods of time. Yesterday, I was walking with Fifi to go get food, and a man stopped him and asked him if I was his property, and if he could purchase me.  Lucky for me, Fifi informed him that I was not for sale.

If you have to pee, it’s completely normal to just squat in a field or behind a tree, or to pee in somebody’s bathhouse outside.  It’s also completely normal to see people peeing in the street or behind a building.

When you’re walking through town, it’s completely normal:
–  to almost be hit by cars multiple times
–  to see naked children running through the streets
–  to hear about 20 people call you by name, even though you only know about 5 of them
–  to be laughed at simply because you’re white and you live in Bawjiase
–  to have small children run up to you and hug you, or to have small children scream and run away in terror because they have never seen a white person before
– to trust that the food you are buying from a box on someone’s head is delicious and won’t give you any sort of food poisoning
– to cram 20 people in a 10 person vehicle where there are no seatbelts and the doors don’t close all the way
– to buy all the food you eat from a local market, where generous portions are always given, and sellers will lend you food if for some reason you don’t have enough money to buy it.
– to have at least one moment everyday where you observe emotions that are completely genuine – whether it’s anger, sadness, happiness- there is something about living here that seems much more real than living anywhere else.

So, these are things that make living in Bawjiase… well… living in Bawjiase. And I wouldn’t change a thing!

Lauren Wright

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