Friday, August 6, 2010

Missing Africa

I awoke this morning to the quiet stillness of my house, except for the snoring of my french bulldog Monster next to me.  In my sleep I keep expecting to awake to the sounds of Africa, and I'm disappointed when it doesn't happen. I feel that my life is forever changed now and I wouldn't have it any other way. Now that I know that this magical place exists, it will draw me back year after year. The deep joy and completeness one feels while being in Africa is difficult to describe. It's almost surreal. Not only the beauty of Africa and the wonderful animals you regularly see, but also the people who are in total poverty yet smiling, singing, laughing. They're some of the happiest people I've ever met, yet they have very few material possessions and struggle to survive every day. Children who have lost both parents to AIDS and are caring for their brothers and sisters all on their own. But yet they always greet you with a warm friendly greeting and have a big smile on their face. Always.

To experience what I've experienced and then to return to my old life is difficult at best. I don't understand how friends can complain about their Starbucks not being made exactly to their specifications. Or how the children in the U.S. aren't happy unless they have a PlayStation or whatever the latest expensive gadget is. The petty dramas that used to be a daily part of life don't hold interest anymore. It's dawned on me what selfish lives we lead and how grateful we should be for what we have, yet nobody is happy.

Right now I'm definitely going through some very profound reverse culture shock where I'm a bit disappointed in the shallowness of people (including myself). When I think back to Africa,waves of homesickness crash over me. The people, the animals, the landscape, the sights & sounds, the general feeling of happiness regardless of any current situation. Life is so much simpler in Africa.

Another interesting thing that I noticed from a psychological perspective is that while in Africa, I completely lost the "me" mentality. I believe that I unconsciously altered my behavior and the way I feel about myself. I happily gave away possessions to others who needed them, I easily parted with money for people who were trying to survive each day. And I did it every single day because there was a need every single day. These were mostly people who worked at the reserve and I had taken the time to get to know them on an individual basis and was aware of their needs. The beautiful children at the orphanage had very simple requests. A hug. To be made to feel special. To hold your hand. To have someone listen to them. At their young age, they had already experienced more heartbreak than most people do in a lifetime, yet they weren't bitter. In fact, they were quite optimistic, with dreams and plans for their lives. But at any given moment all each of them wanted was something as simple as a hug and a warm smile. The few material possessions and little bit of money that I gave Africa is nothing ... nothing ... in comparison to what Africa has given me.

This is at the Rosedale Orphanage, founded in 1962, in Zimbabwe:


  1. I completely agree with you. Africa does change our perspective. As you, giving to those in need seemed so simple and right. I received so much more from the people there. A warmness, gentleness and faith shone in their faces all the time. To know this place exists spurs me on to save to go back. This is a trip I can't recommend enough. I think of Africa daily and miss it so much. Jeffri

  2. Agreed to you. I never been to Africa before and have no idea on how the daily life being carried out over there. But on the point that now people are hard to felt happy and satisfied with their life and the things that they have, it give me a lot of feedback. In Malaysia, most people are living comfortable and yet still not happy with what they already had. To those who are not hardworking enough, they will tried to steal, rob or anythings as long as they can get what they want. This make me sick! Instead of wasting all the earth resource on them, why don't just donate what we can give to those orphans over Africa there? They will, of course, appreciate what they received. I know this kind of feeling is a little bit too aggresive and extreme, but that what I felt.