My Tent Life

24 January 2016

For a girl who has never camped or lived in a hut, this has been quite an experience. For some reason I have come across many people who automatically assume that if you grew up in Africa, regardless of which country, you must be used to a certain type of life . . . huh. Traveling is a sure way of learning and exposure. Growing up in my village, we had electricity, indoor plumbing (I know it’s ridiculous but also a bathtub), a cement house with a fireplace, flushing toilet, and refrigerator. I never thought of all these things growing up, but I’m beginning to reflect and see a lot of things that we take for granted.

While I get settled and acclimated to my job, I’ll be talking about random things that I’m experiencing—and my tent is one of those things. When I got the memo that I’d be living in a tent, I didn’t think much about it. Besides, I have stayed in a tented camp before in Massai Mara in Kenya, so I figured, “I’ve got this.”

Photo: Mirabelle Adamu-Zeh

Let us just say . . . I was in for a rude awakening. MSF is true to its word when you are told to be adaptable and flexible. Even though I was a bit disoriented when I first got here, I adapted very fast. Well . . . I’m still adapting having being here for 10 days, which is awesome. This is the dry season so it’s super hot, dry, and dusty while a bit cold at night.

As the day gets hot, so does the tent. Hence everything inside turns to flowing liquid, including body lotion and anything else that was solid or semi-solid with a potential to melt. At night it gets so cold that I need two blankets. As I adapt to my tent life, I’m happy that I brought along my orange wrap, which is my colorful tablecloth now. It brings life to my tent and as I sweat in Yida beach, I think of Zanzibar . . . :-)

I noticed that a lot of the women in Yida wear very bright colorful wraps and I think they also feel beautiful and alive in such colors, given the grim future faced by most of them. So I’m happy that we have something in common.