Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Buduburam update


Unless you've been to the murky depths of South Carolina when the electricity shuts off or there isn't a fan for miles, you've never experienced the tropics. If you have, you'll know that it isn't a good idea to do much walking, talking, or thinking, and it certainly isn't good to wear uncomfortably sticky clothes.

Anyway, the point is that I have been at the Liberian refugee camp for the past few days, and I am starting to go a little crazy. However, I spent 2 hours at the internet cafe today and regained some of my sanity. It's bizarre, how important contact with the "outside world" is for my happiness. That alone makes me wonder how well I will be able to live in a foreign country. I definitely can no longer see myself living in the bush for my whole life... electricity is a fairly important comodity to my "essentials" (which include my cell phone phone, iPod, and fan). Of course, I can get by without them. I have definitely learned over the course of this semester that I do not need as many things to get by (like hot water, air conditioning, a personal computer, etc).

Anyway, these are semantics. Let me tell you about life at Buduburam.

People wake up very early, with the sun. Extended famiiles usually live close to each other and they all eat at one central house. For example, at the house where I am staying , 3 to 5 people sleep there (2 are nephews whose parents are dead. They rotate houses), but 9-11 people eat there. This saves the cost of stoves, cooking equipment, etc, and also allows them to share labor and money without much fuss. People are employed doing small trading and selling. Many sell bagged water. Others go to Accra to buy used clothes and sell them at the camp. It is very hard for a Liberian to get a work permit in Ghana, so many people depend on relatives outside of Africa to send money.

The English that they speak here is very different. It is a kind of pidgen which blends words and skips some altogether. Often, I cannot understand older people the first time that they say a phrase, but younger people are easier to understand.

The electricity is out because the transformer broke, and UNHCR has phased out its support, so they have to find another way to fix it. They hope it will be back on my Christmas.

I have 2 more minutes on the computer, so I have to go. I'll try to post pictures tomorrow.