Phase 4: Recalibrate
Living and working in a country ranked 180 out of 187 on the human development index has taken its toll on my outlook, naturally changing my perceptions which forces me to question beliefs I have maintained through years of schooling and field work. What is striking to me is that I am only now realizing that I may have been in a bit of a daze the first few months of being here. As I look back and think about my reactions to certain scenarios it becomes clear to me that I had retreated into a “mode”. I wouldn’t go as far to say survival (too dramatic), but it was sincerely born from necessity. I had a finite amount of time to do an infinite amount of work. Building a website, finding a new software, restructuring internal communication, starting solar and educational lending programs, leading trainings, conducting due diligence and the list goes on. I came here determined to tangibly contribute to a long term intervention, putting forth all the effort I had in order to avoid the trap that I often criticize others for falling into — working in a developing country for moral licensing.
Call it catching my breath, waking up from a trance or finally feeling the shock of reality. Whatever it is, has hit me these past few weeks. I am beginning to comprehend the gravity of what achieving progress in Country #180 truly requires. The proof is in the things I am seeing and hearing but have not been able to process fully:
13 year old mothers, motorbike accidents, malaria and typhoid, dying babies, women walking miles carrying 50lbs on their heads, no ambulances, trying to stop the bleeding, immigration detainment, institutionalized corruption, prostitution by the pool, piles of trash the size of 2 story buildings, children falling from coconut trees, amputees, chasing robbers, lightning storms that shake your soul, the screams of domestic abuse, blind faith in God, no potable water, emergency top ups, plumes of exhaust from generators, hunting chimpanzees, 200% rise in gas prices overnight, Ebola orphans, jail, burned out buildings from civil war, violating looks, stampedes of children asking for food, machetes and scars….
Inhale, Exhale. Okay, now what?