You know, I’ve never really realized the importance of certain small things, until I moved to the African bush. Let’s talk a little about me, why, because that Toby Keith song is playing in the background on my Goal Zero Speakers (I Wanna Talk About Me). I’m a Health Volunteer in sub-Saharan Africa. I live at the same level of income as those I’m hoping to aid. The development approach of the organization I’ve chosen to work for is to assist the community in the identification of projects and to use participatory approaches to development. It’s a perfect fit, hands-on and exciting…working together to see what the people want, how they view their lives, how they rate their problems and help them find solutions. What a trip.
On that note, let’s get back to those little things, like washing your feet… (ewwww right?). It’s biblical after all, and its importance is right up there with making sure you’re eating right. Every day in the bush you’re walking, you’re in the dirt, you’re farming, biking, sweating, working hard, and exposed to all kinds of interesting and diabolical organisms that would love nothing more than to burrow into your body and continue their own life cycle. Now guess which part of your body is in constant contact with terra firma? Your feet, whether in shoes, sandals, barefoot (you’ve gotta be crazy… or lazy), or some other contraption (I’ve seen some interesting types of improvised foot coverages…) are exposed to the most abuse and risk of any other part of your body. Granted if you roll around in the dirt, take a sand and dirt bath, and run around in the mud, the rest of your body is also probably at risk.
I wash my feet two times a day, morning and evening. Some scrubbing, a little massaging, and a sweet clean relaxed feeling knowing my principle means of transportation is clean, protected, and … well, reliable. The massage bit is the most important. I mean come on, clean feet is awesome but seriously, after being on your feet on rough ground, sand, and clay, twisted ankles, tendons sore, muscles working to keep balance… nothing beats a sweet massage. One to get you going in the morning, and a second after you’ve gotten the sweat and grime and… well who knows what gets on your feet… off. Then curl up in bed, comfortable as the evening rains come rolling in…
The other really amazing thing… sweeping your hut. I know it’s silly but I sweep twice a day. I have a concrete floor and a four 12′ x 12′ rooms. With a grass roof and a thin layer of roofing plastic above, open breaks between the roof and my walls, afternoon winds and dust as the rains come and the seasons change, there’s a lot of cleaning to do.
Remember that I painted my walls with whitewash lime, and had some trouble getting the mixture right (consistency), and the perfect amount of salt to cause the chemical reaction that locks the lime into the walls, meaning that my sitting room sheds lime… annoying for now, but soon to be rectified (after the walls peel completely. I did paint the rest of the rooms correctly, and as such have no whitewash shed in my other rooms. I like sweeping. It’s relaxing, it’s simple, and a clean floor is wonderful.
Pretty fun right? Household chores, feet washing? A little mundane I know, but a daily routine that keeps my health up.
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