I read this quote last week and it really struck a cord with me. You see, I spent a week in Europe, earlier this month. I went for my best friend’s wedding and to do a little networking. I only leave Uganda every couple of years, so it was wonderful to get away, see old friends, change my view, eat different food, and go bike riding. Being early September, the weather wasn’t even too cold.
It was a great week all around.
But I couldn’t help being plagued by a nagging need to consume. I am Canadian, after all, and Europe is filled with rad things. People’s houses have lots and lots of furniture and an amazing food stockpile. Iphones and gorgeous leather boots are everywhere. I look down at the second hand, out of style shoes I got for less than $2 at Mukono’s weekly market, and thank god I live in a tropical climate and require only a few pairs of sandals. I look in my friends’ kitchens and get very overwhelmed by the 12 different kinds of tea, completely stuffed fridges, and so so so much food. It really freaks me out. All that stuff. I am in no way passing judgement. However, over the years, I’ve simply fallen into the Ugandan habit of purchasing just what I need for the day or coming few days.
I am no longer comfortable being surrounded by so much stuff.
I posted the above quote on The Real Uganda’s facebook page, and within a few minutes got this comment from a former volunteer: “I didn’t realize until volunteering how little I needed to be happy”. She’s 100% right. I remember another volunteer, whose luggage was delayed by 17 days, who expressed basically the same thing (even if it was a little tongue in cheek).
In fact, quite a few volunteers are surprised that Ugandans are generally quite happy people, even though they aren’t particularly material rich. It’s been articulated that Ugandans thank god, while westerners tend to ask God for stuff. So, who’s happier? There’s that quote, ringing true again.
In the end, I did my usual shopping, but not as much as in past trips abroad. I bought a few treats for me and my people. When I unpacked, back here in Uganda, I was really happy I got what I did. But I was also very happy I didn’t buy that iphone. Or that rather expensive handbag. Neither of those things would have improved my life in any real way.
Every time I go abroad, I return realizing that I have just enough, but not too much. I am content with my life. I am proud to say I learned to feel this way from living in Uganda.
Want to experience a culture that prizes people and relationships over business and consumption? Check out our website. If you like what you read, fill in our online application form. We want people who appreciate the freedom of living simply.
Why not Pin it for later?