Mar(k): Travel, Hiking, and "Doing Good"

musings on our life of travel and volunteering

Being grateful for the little things…

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Now that we are back in Australia, after our wonderful year as volunteers with AVI / VSO in Ghana, we thought we’d reflect a little bit about how this experience has changed us.   We’re not talking about really big picture, “DEEP” things…. but the little things that we do or think about differently, now that we are back in Australia.  Here are some things to come to mind:

How grateful we are for regular electricity and running water.  Both of these are “on demand” for us in Oz.   In Ghana, we considered ourselves very fortunate to have both; albeit somewhat intermittently.  In our one year there, losing electricity (called “lights out”) occurred on an almost daily basis;  sometimes for a few minutes, sometimes an hour or two, and sometimes for a day or two!  The longest run without electricity was 5 days, right at the start of our placement!  It was definitely an initiation by “fire”…. 

Water we lost about a handful of times; again, sometimes for a few hours, other times for a few days.  The issue is that you never knew how long it would be “finished” for.   So rationing the water you had became very important.

As a result of the above things, one of the things we now have is a new found respect for water.  So….  we are not ashamed to admit that we now abide by the “if it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown, flush it down” principle at home!   This results in a lot less flushes, saving a lot more water.  Every drop counts.

clean water - one thing we certainly don't take for granted anymore!

Also on the water theme, we have a container that we put under our shower to collect the water while it is “warming up”.   We then use that water on our garden outside, rather than let it go wasted down the drain!   This is also a luxury, as we did not have hot running water in Ghana.  

Another thing we regularly give thanks for is the way we do Laundry here.  All we have to do is load our front loading washing machine, press a button and voila!  clothes that are being washed for you!   In Ghana, we did all laundry by hand, which took a few hours every week – and was a tough upper body workout!  

Another area of thanks is for the ease of being able to eat well.  We used to fantasise in Ghana about eating at restaurants, but the reality is, we do not eat out all that often.  It is just so easy to get beautiful, fresh, healthy food at the grocery store, that we are more than happy to prepare it ourselves.  It is quick, easy and most cost effective!   We still love to go out, but we see it as a treat, rather than a regular occurrence!

One of our true delights - a great coffee!!! aahhhh..... bliss!

Good coffee!   We really did miss our regular pilgrimage to our favourite barista while we were away!   Although we had some plunger coffee that we rationed while we were in Ghana, it is still such a treat to go to one of our favourite coffee shops here and get our Cappuccino (Mark) and a Soy Flat White (Mar).   aaaaahhhhhhhh…. the little things.

Access to good medical facilities:  when Mar was sick, we ultimately ended up losing faith in the health service that was available to us.  We are so grateful that we can get quality medical care here in Australia, and have faith that the diagnosis that are made, are the appropriate ones….

Friends and Family:  we missed you guys!   It is great to be back and be able to catch up with the people who are near and dear to us!   And for that matter, we feel we still share a little part of us with our friends and family who are not so near to us in Perth – through sharing our thoughts and feelings on this blog!   So love going out to y’all…..

Our VSO Family while we were in Ghana!

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