Coming back to the states was almost as big of an adjustment as going to Sierra Leone. In many ways, I was prepared for going to Africa. I didn’t think I would need to prepare for coming home.
As I drove home from the airport I began to think about all of the things I had started to learn to live without. It was only two weeks, but I had already started to adapt to aspects of the lifestyle, or at least I had stopped expecting certain things. Paved roads, electricity, internet, air conditioning, phones, working bathrooms, and the list goes on. These were some of the ‘difficulties’ we were faced with everyday. Being back in the U.S., I’ve had a bit of time to reflect on what we saw. In the weeks after we returned, I thought a lot about what I could live without.
I could give up my blackberry, I already leave it at home without a second thought. Probably, if I weaned myself off of it, I deal with not having the internet. Living without electricity and bathrooms would be hard, but not impossible. But could I live without steady access to clean water? Doctors? Food? There are a lot of problems that the society of Sierra Leone faces, but health, food, and water are the things that have been sticking with me.
We were asked if we returned to Sierra Leone in five years what we would like to see changed. I think at the time I said less corruption, but my answer has changed. I hope that every Sierra Leonean has increased food security. I hope that there is prevalent access to clean water. I sincerely hope that within five years the quality of life in Sierra Leone is better. In the future, I hope that the dialogue shifts from what can the outside world do for us to what we can do for ourselves.