Did You Know?

Did you know that for the price of a brand new iPad (600 bucks) you could help fund a weeklong leadership camp for high schoolers from across Ghana?

Did you know that for the price of a brand new iPad you could do any of the following:

Support the building of proper latrines in rural Ghana? Helping to stop spread disease.

Help a woman’s group to start a project, such as shea production, beekeeping, rabbit rearing, or cashew juice production? These projects would empower the women and help provide income for future years.

Support a child so they can attend school? School isn’t free in Ghana.

Help a small-scale cashew processor buy necessary equipment to aid in production? Having local processors empowers Ghanaians, helps to increase the price of cashew nuts, and creates jobs.

Fund HIV testing? Knowing your status is half the battle.

Provide a scholarship to a student who can’t afford college? Not just in Ghana, anywhere.

Support any number of Peace Corps projects around the globe?

Backpack around South Africa for at least a week?

Spend about 3 weeks at the beach in Ghana? Ghana’s beaches are beautiful.

Buy a motorcycle in Ghana?

Buy over 40 handmade dresses/pants/shirts from a tailor in Ghana?

Buy 400 beers in Ghana? That sounds like a rather fun party.

For 600 bucks you can do a lot of things.
I went to college. I have a degree in Marketing. I know the answer to this question, but I am still going to ask:

Why do people buy things like iPads?

Why do consumers hand over 600 us dollars for a tablet? What is the main purpose of an iPad? People aren’t replacing their laptops for one. They are supplementing their electronic repertoire with one. But why?

Because Americans can’t stand being bored. We want something to entertain us while we wait, on the bus, in line, during our lunch hour at work, while watching TV. Sure some people use iPads for other things, but let’s be honest – owning an iPad is a status symbol. Just like iPods used to be when they came out. It is like driving a flashy car or wearing designer labels. American’s are obsessed with consumerism.

I am not immune– I have my makeup brands. I used to fork over a hefty chunk of change each year for the perfect mascara and eyeliner. Since being here in Ghana, I have seen things in a whole new light.

Does owning an iPad make you a better person? Does owning an iPad make you cooler? Apple’s marketing team wants you to answer yes. You know what makes you a better person? Signing up for Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, Habitat for Humanity, Make a Wish Foundation, Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, the Military, or any number of volunteer organizations.

Live in a third world country. Live in an emerging economy. Live in a village with no electricity. Live in a village with a community latrine. Live in a town with just one taxi that leaves a day. Live in a world that doesn’t need iPads. Live.

When you leave your comfort zone, you discover that you really don’t need all the things that you used to rely on. You don’t need an Xbox or a Wii to keep you busy. You don’t need a Netflix subscription. You don’t need a lot of things. I have sat on tros for hours and hours with nothing but the wind and scenery to keep me entertained. I have sat on my bed with no electricity, no candles, and a dead headlamp and I have just day dreamed. I have spent hours writing in a journal. I can sit outside with my neighbors every night just listening to them talk in a different language, not even realizing hours are flying by. I can sit outside and look at the stars. I can watch the kids find any number of random objects and make them into toys.

Over 5 months ago, I left my Wii, my three computers, my car, my electric face scrubber, and many other comforts to spend two years in Ghana. It feels like I left just yesterday. Time has flown by. Time has gone by faster than any other period in my life. And it went by faster without all the things I used to rely on to keep me occupied and not bored.

When you have a family to chat with, ideas to dream of, journal entries to write, and a new language to learn – you realize that boredom doesn’t exist. You realize time is what you make of it.

What will you do with your time?

One thought on “Did You Know?

  1. Wow! This brought me to tears! I am such a sap. I love my electronics…..LOVE them and they’re all coming with me. However, just the past year of PC preparation has opened my eyes. My awareness of American luxuries vs the lack of simple necessities in other countries; I now suffer from these feelings of frustration, disappointment, disdain, and an uncontrollable urge to change things.

    I’d love to share your post with my family, but they already think I’m a crazy hippie liberal (baby steps with them)!

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