This Is What My Summer In A Third World Country Made Me Realize

If you’re reading this, then consider yourself extremely fortunate: you have access to the Internet. And if you have access to the Internet, you may also have an adequate plumbing system. But what if you had neither? Would you be able to survive without electricity or running water? Some of us are lucky because we don’t have to think about what our day-to-day life would be without these necessities. But this summer I experienced both, and as tough as it was, it definitely made me a more aware and appreciative person.

My summer in Jamaica made me realize just how many things I take for granted. I leave my faucet on while I brush my teeth and gargle mouthwash. I leave the shower running while I lather up. I don’t turn lights off when I leave rooms for an excessive amount of time. I open the refrigerator incessantly knowing I’m going to, without a doubt, find the same content. I’ll leave the A/C on all night knowing that I’m chilly, but too lazy to get up and turn it off. I order too much food knowing ahead of time that I won’t be able to eat it all and end up throwing it away. Yes, I’m a wasteful, terrible person, but it’s because I’ve been privileged enough to not to have to worry about water, electricity or where my next meal was coming from.

In New York, a lot of my concerns are if the bar I’m going to with my friends has Wi-Fi so I can be on Instagram all evening, or how long it will take for the water in my tub to become warm so I can take a soothing bubble bath. But in Jamaica, the residents don’t have to worry about those things because most of them don’t even have water running through their shack homes, much less internet access. And I’ll tell you this, you haven’t experienced heartbreak until you witness a three-year-old bathing in a contaminated river next to a highway because it’s the closest resemblance to a shower they’ll ever know.

We see it on TV all the time: poor children in African and Asian countries who have to walk miles to get water for their family, and who are so malnourished their stomachs poke out like pregnant women because they’re 1 of the 21,000 people who, every day, are suffering from bloating due to a failing stomach and are about to die from starvation. We see it and emphasize for the duration of the commercial, but three commercials later we’ve forgotten all about it.

How fortunate are we to have a glass of clean water available at the turn of a knob in our kitchens, and a roof over our heads that prevents rain from gushing in. We rarely, if ever, have to think about what it would be like without these things, and for that we are blessed.

I’m not here to tell anyone how to live their life or to look down on those who choose to act differently, but if we all could stop for a second to think about how the other half lives, we’d learn how to be more compassionate and considerate and we’d then remember to count our blessings. As awful as you may perceive your life to be, someone always has it worse than you, so be grateful. TC mark

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