Sometimes we whine about the Manna House, which is actually palatial compared to the way most people live. We miss hot water, air conditioning, bug-free living, dryers, dish-washers, TV, and our own rooms. We spent the last week sharing houses the size of our rooms… much of our community lives with dirt floors, latrines shared by twenty people, bucket showers, and cooks over fires. I think homestays have been the best thing we have done yet, we solidified already close and solid relationships and also just had a really good time. The people in the community have become family and friends over the past few months.
We really were challenged by much of the homestay, the dichotomy between how we live and how they live is impossible to convey. As we discussed and wrestled with this I think we came to the ultimate realization that the critical difference between me living a more sparse life and the lives of our community members: For me, it’s a choice. For me, I choose whether or not to buy a new dress in order to save more money for sponsorship funds. For me, I choose whether or not to go to dinner out or eat more cheaply in my house. For these families, such a choice does not exist. No matter how much I restrict myself I will never understand what it is to live like these families. No matter how long we stay we will never fully understand the reality.
It was a great week, for many of us the end of homestays came too soon. I really do believe both we and our homestay families enjoyed the experience. It was great to spend day-in and day-out with the people who have become our families here.
Lauren Page Black