It’s a warm sunny afternoon and I see my friend coolly sitting in the shade of an outdoor umbrella at one of our new favourite hangs – a tucked in Malaysian restaurant along an ever-busy road close to where I work. After catching her eye and exchanging the usual hugs and greetings, we sit down for a catch up.
Last time we spoke, she told me about her four-month trip to Ghana. Knowing she had a fear of flying and hadn’t ever left Australia until her late 20s, I was intrigued to know why she decided to fly as far as west Africa, and during the peak of the ebola epidemic. Sure, Ghana wasn’t affected terribly by the virus but the surrounding countries were, and Australia was definitely on high alert – almost to the point of paranoia – about anyone who came back from that region.
It was the music. Nothing could really deter ‘Lucy’, a self-described “Aussie lady in my 30s”, from wanting to know and learn music from west Africa. Not even ebola.
Ever since I knew Lucy, there was no denying that her love for music was so much a part of her being. So, I guess it’s not surprising that she ventured off to live in a little village called Nungua to study African drumming, dancing and singing.
Besides the music, she also took part in volunteer activities to help improve sanitation and healthcare for the local people through the NGO Dream Big Ghana. While we sat eating our lunch and chatting away, she commented on the physical strength of the people around her. While small children had the ability to walk with pitchers full of water on their heads, she could only manage to carry half the load of what they carried. She was considered quite dainty or fragile.
After living in Nungua, Lucy said she learned SWAB (“secret women’s African business”) like how to make your hair grow longer faster. If you want to know the secret too, you’ll have to go straight to her, I’ve been sworn to secrecy… Shhh! She also learnt how to properly wear and tie waist beads, a sign of femininity and womanhood, in the local culture.
Now back in Australia, Lucy still wishes to travel to more parts of the world to conquer her fears and anxieties about facing new experiences. Music has played a huge motivator for her to travel and to overcome these fears.
After life in Ghana, Lucy has this challenge for you:
SO… I challenge you to live without running water and electricity for one week.
After asking her to explain her challenge further to me, I understood what she was trying to get at. She said people go into breakdown mode when Wi-Fi is not available, but why not take into consideration the fact that over a billion people in the world don’t even have access to running water or electricity.
I must admit that I don’t know how I’d fare with that challenge, but I’ll try and be more mindful not to waste water or electricity… or chuck a hissy-fit when the Wi-Fi is down. I guess that’s a place to begin for now.
But if you’re up for the challenge go for it 😉