An expat aid worker’s thankful list

It’s become a cliche to say that moving from the US to Africa makes you appreciate the things we have in the rich world.  Still, it’s true.  You notice it anytime you hear yourself thinking either “I wish…”, “wow, they have that here?”, or “good thing that…”  Here follows a list, in no particular reason, of 61 things I have become more thankful for since living in Uganda – both here in Africa and back home:

  1. Being able to eat turkey, dressing (stuffing for you non-Texans), and pumpkin pie in Kampala
  2. Those little stripes down the middle of the road that tell you what lane to drive in
  3. Water fountains
  4. Parks
  5. Coffee
  6. Coffee farmers
  7. Coffee exporters
  8. Coffee processors
  9. Only having to boil tap water instead of carrying 20 kilo (44 pound) jerry cans back from the river
  10. Being able to do meaningful work
  11. The Rule of Law
  12. That George Washington voluntarily stepped down from power 216 years ago
  13. Banana trees – seriously, what is a more perfectly convenient snack than a banana?
  14. Trade routes that make all kinds of food available to me
  15. Re-sealable packaging
  16. The way African kids are always running, running, running, and just generally having a great time
  17. President Barack Obama
  18. Chocolate
  19. Cocoa farmers
  20. Driving tests
  21. Traffic police
  22. Private enterprise
  23. Government that works
  24. That even if I develop a pre-existing condition, US insurance companies must still cover me
  25. And that anyone who tries to free ride and wait until developing such a condition before buying insurance must pay a penalty
  26. Entrepreneurs who own restaurants serving muzungu, Indian, and Ethiopian food in Kampala
  27. Families of 2.1 children
  28. The word “No”
  29. That I caught the thief who had stolen my laptop and got it back after just 2 days
  30. The Indian family who taught me how to make dhal and rice
  31. Light switches
  32. Street signs
  33. Traffic lights
  34. Electric mosquito zappers
  35. Awesome Ugandan musicians who can play rock music
  36. The door to door convenience of being able to find a boda boda anywhere, and reach any destination in any traffic in less than 45 minutes for less than $5
  37. Boda bodas whose engines are too old to go very fast
  38. The companies who make sure I can get bottled water even in the remotest corners of Uganda
  39. Scientists
  40. Air quality and vehicle emission standards
  41. Modern medicine
  42. Being able to get modern medicine (at least of a sort) even in a provincial Ugandan town of 5,000 people
  43. People who do helpful things and don’t expect any money in return
  44. Wilderness
  45. All the people who came before me who developed science, technology, social mores that respect human life and the rule of law, and all the other things that make us think we are smart and hard working, when in reality our successes stand on the shoulders of these giants – Plato/Aristotle/Socrates, the Roman engineers, Galileo, Newton, America’s Founding Fathers, Pasteur, Einstein, Fleming, etc.
  46. Carbon trading schemes that subsidize clean energy technologies
  47. Return policies
  48. Not having to find change because every store accepts credit cards
  49. Being able to see the world
  50. Airplanes
  51. Whoever must have eaten the family of turkeys that used to live in my driveway and make lots of noise gobbling
  52. Cold weather
  53. Sinks that aren’t just there – water actually comes out of them when you turn the tap
  54. Street lights that don’t just stand there – they actually give light to make the roads safe
  55. Computerized accounting systems
  56. Smooth, wide, well-constructed roads
  57. Planning
  58. My parents and brother
  59. The Kents and the Browns: all my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and aunts
  60. Friends at home who care about what I’m doing
  61. Awesome expat and Ugandan friends who make it possible to live 8,000 miles from home, even on Thanksgiving.

Expats in Uganda and around the world: add your own in the comments!

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Paul Kent on November 23, 2012 at 4:58 am

    Really enjoyed your tgiving blog.

    Sent from my iPhone

    Reply

  2. Hahaha, love this post!

    Reply

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