All things considered, I didn’t suffer. I had my phone and could check in on my husband and son. I sent pictures. I reveled in my morning cup of coffee. I loved the warm water we got to have for a bucket bath each evening after sweating and smelling all day long. Comfort, the GRI nurse, told me, don’t wash your hair. Up until now, I’m not sure why. It’s way too much water? And it could be said that these conditions are plush compared to most of the Kakwa people living in the Imvepi refugee camp.
Of course, we Coloradans think it’s fun to go camping. Living in the elements and connecting with nature is so novel. But it’s not real life. It’s a getaway.
Perhaps it was the lack of options that made such a big impression.
I have options. If I get sick, I have a doctor, a hospital, a whole host of specialty health services at my disposal. If I want food, I have the world’s cuisine at my fingertips. If I want a drink of water, I walk over to the sink and pour myself a cup. I have a dishwasher to wash my dishes, I have a washing machine to wash my clothes, I have a refrigerator to keep my food from spoiling, I have friends and family close by, and I have a job that suits my interests and abilities. This is only a handful of the options that I have.
These people don’t have options. And they won’t. Not anytime soon.
I tried for a moment to realize how it feels. If I didn’t know I was coming back to my normal, comfortable life within a few days, I would feel trapped. I would feel panic. I wouldn’t know what my priorities should be. I wouldn’t know what goals or dreams to make for my family, or if having any goals and dreams at all in a refugee camp, miles from my war-torn home, would be the sane thing to do. I would just be trying to keep myself together when I felt another mosquito bite, when I heard rats scurrying around at night, when the lizards made their way into my mosquito net, when the monotony of having no place to go and nothing to do everyday would grate on my patience, when I was endlessly hungry and nutrient-deficient, and when I had to get up and do it all again the next day. I’d try not to scare anyone with my emotions or the questions constantly running through my mind. There’s no break. Basically, what would life mean?