Hello! This is a bit of a different kind of post, not so much a story or news, but more about some of the daily, small issues that we as mzungus need to navigate our way through if we want to live here and have a good effect.
There are many things that both of us grew up taking for granted: water comes from the tap (and I can adjust it to whatever temperature I prefer from that tap, ranging from scalding hot to almost freezing), toilets flush when you push the handle, you can count on the electricity working, every house has a regular size fridge (“regular” here is our hotel size or smaller), and dirty clothes go in the washing machine.
However, here, laundry is done entirely by hand. Like most things, handwashing your clothes is a skill that you have to practice. We have no natural talent at it. (Especially me [Amanda]. And I hate doing things I am bad at.) In addition, not being very good at it means that it is terribly time consuming – it takes about 3 hours once a week to wash our clothes. This needs to be done in the morning. (Otherwise, they don’t dry before they start to stink.)
All of this not to complain, but to give you an idea of what is at stake in this decision.
Its common practice here to hire someone to do your household chores for very little money. There are two sides to this: the person who does the work is certainly paid much less than a living wage and the worker is often looked down on. The other side is that at least they have some kind of job and are making some money. We are doing our own household chores, since our food and such is done for the whole community, and our cleaning is not that much. We certainly didn’t come here to pay someone a tiny amount of money so that we can do the other, “more important work.” But when it comes to laundry…
We could hire someone for $2-$3/week, and have our laundry done for us. We wouldn’t have to worry about finding the time, in the morning, on a sunny day, to spend three hours slopping around in the water. It looks attractive to me! For now, Mike has said he feels really strongly about it, and doesn’t mind the work, so he is doing all the laundry. (Sorry I don’t have a picture of him at the big cement sink – I was sick the day he did laundry -I’ll try to post one soon!)
Its a small thing, but it seems significant to us. We continue to ask what people here think, and to pray, and to consider what is the wisest course of action.