Friday was my two year anniversary of landing in Ghana! Hard to believe how time flies.
The occasion has had me reflecting on Ghanaian realities. We haven’t had a day in the past two weeks without the power cutting out or the water turning off. Some of the water outages were due to a leaky pipe in the neighbours’ house, which required a plumber’s attention. After a slightly annoying two weeks of running behind the house to turn on the water and then turn it off again after showering or washing dishes, we decided the problem was likely a lack of money and not an unresponsive plumber. We offered to pay the cost of the repair. Two days later and the water was flowing freely again for a grand total of $5. It’s amazing what people will cope with to save very small sums of money. That small coping mechanism was painfully obvious to us due to its impact on our water supply, but I wonder how many other small inconveniences people in the house deal with every day to save an extra dollar here and there.
At the same time as the hardships there moments of hope. We’ve recently started paying a nearby school to use their irrigated field to play ultimate instead of suffering in the dust bowl that the dry season has created out of our regular field. Our policy is that Ghanaians play for free, but my friend Mark who has had a job as a network technician for just under a year now insisted on paying because he’s now working. Seeing his pride in being able to contribute equally is an expression of exactly what I hope I’m contributing towards with my work here.
Ghana. Some days it is hard not to let the frustration of systems that don’t work completely overwhelm me. On other days it is easy for the vision of the prosperous and vibrant Ghana of tomorrow to outshine the small frustrations of today.
Two down, one to go. Here’s to another year of growth, challenge and successes in this paradox of frustration and hope. Here’s to Ghana, her people and all those working for tomorrow.
Hope you have a great year Ben(ard)!!! All the best!!!
Just picked up the drill cones! Can’t wait to hit the field.
Tu es mon idole, Ben! La frustration et l’espoir sont deux frères ennemis. Tu ne peux rencontrer l’un sans l’autre. Comme tu as grand coeur, tu sauras vivre avec eux…
Ben – great post. In regards to the water problem with the $5 fix: so many decisions that you and I make are based on maximizing what we have today and putting off what we can until tomorrow. When resources are limited, however, it’s easy to delay those decisions which impose a cost up-front.
So even though $5 may be small and paying it today would yield immediate benefits (i.e. you save yourself the frustration starting today, and begin a constant stream of incoming benefits every day in the future), time inconsistency dilemmas lead people to discount the future benefits at too high a rate.
Put in the context of many frustrations in daily life, how to choose the frustration to end today? Sometimes it’s easier to make no selection when confronted with so many choices. And, therefore, live through all the frustrations at once than pay out of pocket today.