A Trip to Reality

Written by: OA

Finally! After twelve tiring hours on a claustrophobic plane sitting beside a whining child and  dealing with the pain of a sore neck; I made it to Zambia, Africa. I excitingly step out of the musty plane and take a massive breath of fresh air.  The blazing African sun is beating down on me. Quickly, I take out my stylish sunglasses and remove all excess layers of clothing; leaving myself in a tiny tank top and shorts.  I then begin to make my way to the old, rundown airport. Sweat dripping down my face as I leisurely drag my feet down the airport runway. The airport is muggy, warm and filled with people.  I feel like I am trapped in a squishy sardine’s container. Frantically, I retrieve my bags and attempt to use my best language skills to communicate with the people of Africa. After twenty minutes, a taxi races to the airport and picks me up.

 I arrive to my home for the next week.  I am visiting in Africa for a volunteer trip to help provide more resources to the people living in this community.  The house I am staying in is not really much of a house. It is more of a shack. It is gloomy and stuffy. Miniature rays of sunlight are seeping through the cloth covered windows.  After putting down my luggage, I decide to leave the house and begin exploring. The first thing to catch my eye is two young girls scooping water out of a filthy puddle. They are frail, covered in bruises and look like they haven’t eaten in days.   I follow the girls to the nearest community. They are carrying heavy buckets of dirty water on their heads. Swiftly strolling in the blistering African sun for miles.

 I was extremely exhausted and dehydrated by the time I arrived at the village. The young girls surpassed me quite a ways earlier and I arrived approximately twenty minutes after them. The sight I see is unbelievable.  Crowded, unsanitary, and filthy. Everybody is barefoot and wearing old rags on their bodies as clothing. They all look skinny, weak, and in poor health. It looks as if they haven’t eaten in days. It is heartbreaking.  I see the young girls drinking from the muddy water they retrieved from the puddle earlier. I quickly stop them and share some of my clean drinking water. The girls are so grateful. To me, this water is something I have every day.  To them, it is a treat to have safe drinking water.

 I am incredibly fortunate to have basic necessities such as water, food, shelter, and clothing given me every day.  I can’t imagine living life in poverty like these people in Africa. I can’t imagine walking a mile in their shoes every day.  Walking to this village in the blazing heat, seeing the lives of these people who are living in poverty, and saving those girls from drinking dangerous, contaminated water helped me realize how lucky I am.  Even though I did not fully live life like these people, I was able to experience what their day is like to an extent. This day has helped me appreciate the things I do have and it has inspired me to help others.  It was such a special moment when I helped those young girls and I am extremely thankful to have had the experience to see what it is like to walk a mile in their shoes. It has given me the opportunity to somewhat understand how difficult their lives are. Without this trip, I would have never been able to have the slightest idea of what life is like for people living in starvation and unhealthy conditions.  Now that I have had a small glimpse of what life in poverty is like, I can work towards helping people in third world countries.