Thursday, 25 April 2013

Barefoot living cont...

You are never more challenged to face who you really are than when you are confronted with a strange people speaking a strange language in a strange country.  Communication becomes about who you are rather than what you can say.  

I remembered my decision about barefoot living and applied it to my time in Africa.

Taken in Ethiopia as we visited an erosion site.

I am a One-Word Wonder when I travel.  I like to be able to at least say hello, thank you and good-bye. I pick up more words as I go, but, the reality is, I am never going to be proficient enough to use words to communicate meaning.  

This was made clear to me when working in Uganda helping people learn how to build a fuel efficient stove, known as the Rocket Stove.  Down on my hands and knees with the people of the community getting the mud ready it was clear that the women were talking about me. I could just catch "Mzungu" (white person) and the sense of their glances.  And there was nothing I could say,

Mixing mud in Uganda.

but plenty I could do.  So I smiled and kept working.  It was hot and we were all sweaty.  

Putting on the finishing touches.

By the time the stove was nearly finished we were a team, language or no language.  We had all played a part in the creation of something that was going to improve their lives. 

It had taken me several hours but finally the women were smiling at me and their kids were playing with me.  

My new friends.

Barefoot living is about being you, words or no words.