There are many things you realize about life when you leave the comforts of home and travel to a place where the simple luxuries in life are not always available. One of the major things I have realized in my journeys is that there is little worry over basic human needs in the USA. If you are from a developed country, which you probably are if you’re browsing the internet right now, there is almost no chance you are concerned about your basic human needs: i.e. you don’t have to worry about where you will find shelter tonight, if you can eat tomorrow, and whether you can find suitable clothing and accommodation to keep you warm.
On monday, I came home from the factory and found my apartment to be no more than 45 degrees fahrenheit (about 7 degrees celsius), and it is not equipped with heaters. I looked up the weather on my phone and found that, for the next week or so, it should be near freezing temperatures in this town every night. I immediately walked to Walmart (There are about 400 locations in China), and purchased a small space heater for ¥49.00 ($8.00). This little heater has become my new best friend and greatest fire hazard.
This is my second winter living in a cool, damp climate without heat – I experienced a very similar winter in Malta last year. People from my hometown in Minnesota, where it is currently 18 degrees fahrenheit (-8 C), often express jealousy that I escape the cold Minnesota winters so frequently. Tonight, I sit here wrapped in down blanked, wool socks, and pajamas. I’m huddled close to the heater wishing there was a better way to warm my core.
Then I think about the fact that it has rained for three consecutive days here. All around me people are going about their daily routines, buzzing around on mopeds, carrying buckets of water and supplies on their shoulders, and walking the streets in sandals in this cold damp climate. I know a lot of these people do not have little space heaters, nor can they afford them or the electricity to operate such a thing. I realize how fortunate I am to be able to go to the store and buy a heater when I need it and pay for the electricity to operate my little friend to keep me somewhat comfortable.
Its amazing how basic necessities are not even considered by so many people, and to others, finding food and warmth are among their only concerns.