Laundry Duty at Amani

Today was classic “Africa”. I felt like I was experiencing exactly what the meaning of Africa is. I know that’s a weird way to put it, and I think there’s probably a better way to describe it, but . . . bear with me. 🙂

I was on laundry duty today. “Laundry” takes on a whole new meaning around here: for one thing, they do laundry every day, so there’s no such thing as “laundry day” . . . and they do as much laundry EVERY DAY as about what my family at home would do in a month. I’m seriously not even exaggerating–in fact, I it’s more possible that I am under-estimating. There are approximately 774 miles of clothesline spread out across the property (I think one of the pictures I had sent out in a previous update was a picture of a fraction of the clotheslines…)

Laundry duty includes helping wash the clothes (they do have a washer, but . . . it’s just not the same as our handy-dandy spotless laundry rooms we have back in America), then feeding them into the ringer–you may be the one feeding the clothes in, or you may be the one cranking the handle. Then we hang the laundry. All day. It’s actually pretty relaxing . . . and this is the part where I felt like I was “living Africa”.

I was alone, hanging up mountains of laundry on endless miles of clotheslines. There were chickens, roosters, and chicks running to and fro under the clothes, between my legs, up on the wheelbarrow, chasing each other through the “kitchen” (the kitchen here is an outside patio covered by a tin roof and no walls), looking for scraps of food, bickering loudly with each other. The laughter of children echoed through the whole compound . . . with an occasional screaming fit to liven things up a bit. The mamas (Ugandan women staff) were laughing together and calling to each other in their native language . . . frequently bursting into song. The sounds and recitations of the preschool class carried on the wind from where they were all seated under a large old tree. Joseph, our dear maintenance fellow, was sweeping the sidewalks with a straw broom (these are literal straw brooms–a handful of hard straw tied together at the top with string). The constant lingering smell of burning trash came in waves with the breeze. Every so often a boda would drive up to the gate carrying large bags of rice, or stalks of bananas straight from a tree. And over all of this, the sun shone down with intense heat.

It was so peaceful and simple. I loved it. I’m beginning to truly love the way of life here, and am already realizing that I’m going to find it distasteful to come back to America and see the overall wealth and waste. The utter ease of my life at home–and yet the way I still complain about things. I’m ashamed at myself when I come in contact with these beautiful African women and hear their stories and see what “normal life” is to them, and to never see them with anything other than faces full of smiles, and a true joy and thankfulness permeating their lives. Oh! that we would never take our lives and conveniences for granted!

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