March 21st-23rd, 2012
To finish up our week long training we had a grief and loss workshop with our PCMO (medical officer). Talking about grief and loss sounds like a whole lot of crying and sadness but it wasn’t entirely about that. Yes there were tears, and sad stories, and surprise discoveries, but for me it was much more then that.
As Americans we tend to forget to take time for ourselves. There is always something to do for someone, somewhere to go, some responsibility pushing at us. Having packed my American work ethic I struggled as many volunteers do to adjust to the slower pace of life the majority of world operates at. If we are sitting it means we are wasting time, or at least that’s what I thought before this whole experience. Here sitting really is no waste of time at all, its time to recharge.
A simple task here equals the effort, emotional stress, and physical drainage of several tasks back home. My job at home was 5 miles from home and it took me 10 minutes to get to it. I didn’t have to talk to anyone on the way, I could listen to music of my choice, and I could control my temperature with air conditioning or heat. Here one place I work is about 5 miles from my house. It takes me an hour to get there. I walk, take transport, and then walk again. I walk when it’s hot, I walk when it’s raining, I walk when it’s windy, and I walk when it’s cold. I talk to every neighbor I pass, everyone at the shops, the transport operator, the person I am sitting next to, the bomake at the market, all the neighbors on the way to my destination, and then eventually the people I work with; all while caring my lunch, my materials for the day, a first aid kit, water, a book, and my umbrella for protection from the sun. And after I’m done with work I do it all over again to get home. One simple lesson takes all day and is exhausting. So moral of the story, take time for your self and don’t feel bad about it. It’s a struggle for me every day even here, but I think once I master “the art of doing nothing” my life will feel much more complete.