When I woke up one cool African morning at Toka Leya (http://www.wilderness-safaris.com/zambia_victori_falls/toka_leya_camp/), the Wilderness Safari camp I was staying at, on the second morning of my safari, I had no idea what to expect. Later that day I would be visiting a local village, and as a shy person, I was nervous when I thought of the idea of meeting new people with a completely different lifestyle from my own. When we arrived at Simongo Village, I was amazed at how little it had changed over time. The houses were still small round structures made out of mud with thatched grass roofs, African women were cooking and doing laundry with large kettles, and children were doing whatever they liked. An owner of a small store made of mud bricks was our tour guide. He showed us the houses and the different areas in his village, and he was very proud of everything he had to show. He was very nice to us, and soon all of my shyness disappeared.
â–º Quarter Finalist 2011 Teen Travel Writing Scholarship
It did not take long for all of the children in the village to realize that there were people visiting, and soon they crowded around us and they all wanted to hold hands with my cousins and me. They were wearing the second hand clothes donated from countries like the US that I had seen being sold in a Livingstone marketplace, and they were fascinated by the material my jacket was made out of. When my cousins and I handed out the Silly Bands™ and hair elastics we had brought for them, they were thrilled and tried to get more despite our attempts to explain that we did not even have enough for everyone to get one. I felt awful when I had no more hair elastics left to give and a girl asked me for one, saying that she had never had one before. This was a sobering thought for me because here I was on vacation in Africa spending money on souvenirs, and this girl, who happened to be in a village that was more developed than others, had never even owned a hair elastic.
I knew that many other people in this area lacked more important things as well as this small convenience, and I would have continued to sympathize for the people in this village and other small villages, but as I continued walking around, I saw something that has disappeared from America. Everyone was extremely nice, and as poor as their style of living was in comparison with mine, they were very happy. They were all proud of everything they had. They were proud of the houses they had made, the well they were lucky to have, and that the bishop was coming to visit them. I noticed that they were more proud of their belongings, and much happier to have them, than the people in the US who have much more. I thought about this and I realized that since they either make everything they have or work hard to buy things, they can better appreciate their belongings. They also had a much greater sense of community since they lived very close together and worked together in a way that has been lost in America. After seeing all of these wonderful things in a small African village, I wish that I could find a way to bring the same happiness with little, and sense of community found in Simongo, to my country.
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