17 August 2019

What would make your life in Chad more luxurious?

The question floated across the air-conditioned, well-decorated, carpeted living room to where I sat catching up with old friends, supported by soft couch cushions, drinking ice water and eating vegetable chips. I thought for a moment and then sheepishly mentioned the item I'd been considering splurging on and taking with me to Chad--a cooler for transporting refrigerated groceries from the capital. Totally not necessary, but would be nice to have. Luxury. I was stunned by my friend's generosity when she announced that she was going to buy it for me.

On reflection, and on returning to Chad, I have to admit that her question, "what would make your life in Chad more luxurious"--is hard to answer because of how luxurious my life already is. Life in Chad redefines a Westerner's perception of luxury. What is luxury, really?

  • Enough food to eat and the health and appetite to enjoy it
  • Even more luxurious--chili and cornbread on a cold, rainy day (cold being relative, maybe low 70s F after living in Chad)
  • Lentils (can't be bought in the local market, so we stock up when we come back from larger towns)
  • Homemade tortillas from dry corn that has been boiled and hand-ground into masa
  • Cheese
  • Chocolate
  • Ok, no more food because this could go on forever
  • Clean running water, even clean ice
  • A warm shower (not usually available here)
  • Access to work and the health and ability to do it--even more luxurious to have a fulfilling, meaningful job
  • Bug spray (not available locally)
  • Eating fresh fruit from the tree--papayas and bananas in January, mangoes in April, guavas in August
  • Education, especially if you learn to read, even more if that education continues through secondary school, let alone university or post-graduate education
  • Having close family and friends and the opportunity to see them sometimes
  • A real soccer ball
  • A toilet, maybe even a flushing one, and the knowledge of why it's important to use it instead of the nearest field
  • More than one set of clothing
  • Shoes, especially having more than one pair
  • Access to medical care (this is often restricted in various ways--including finances, roads, culture, and a limited national formulary)
  • A cell phone, especially a smart phone and internet access

You may think that some of these are basic human rights, not luxuries. I might agree with you. But when you realize how many people go without every single item on this list, you really start to appreciate them instead of taking them for granted.