Alpha 1: Life Unplugged

25th November 2015

Not many people are given the opportunity to be unplugged for 19 days.We, the members of Alpha 1, have been given this unique ‘off the grid’ experience.

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Before departing for Tanzania many of us had mixed feelings about being without our beloved technology. Most of us were excited to embrace this way of life. It seemed like an opportunity to experience raw life without the constant distractions. Despite the excitement, some of us had concerns about our ability to be reached by close friends and family. Others were relieved as the pressure to check emails and reply to texts had been removed. Regardless of our initial thoughts, we have all embraced the ‘unplugged’ life.

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This task was not completed without facing challenges. Many of us had to adjust our daily habits. No longer was it possible to escape reality through our phones. We couldn’t quell home sickness with a quick phone call home. We had more time to fill. Despite the many hurdles along the way we have all learnt to live happily disconnected from technology.

Over the past two weeks we have found other ways of coping with our new surroundings and circumstances. We have been present in the group, interacting with one another with more engagement and attention than we might be used to. Writing letters, a therapeutic process, has become the way we stay in touch with family and friends.

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We fill our spare time reading, writing, thinking and chatting with each other. Ben has recently been spending his time carving a bamboo walking pole.

Trek has not given us much time in which we would use our phones on top of walking as far a 26km in a day. Once we arrive at our destination for the day, we must then prepare our camp for the evening. This includes constructing tents, digging a short drop, building a tippy tap, collecting firewood, pumping water and cooking dinner.

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Some days we had the opportunity to wash our clothing in a river or stream. These days made us appreciate both the opportunity to be clean again, and having the luxury of a washing machine back at home!

We bought rice and beans from town for dinner. On these days we had to walk as long as 5 km into town to get the ingredients. The beans took as long as 3 hours to cook. It was a paired down, slowed down process, but the meals were delicious and well earned.  The lengthy cooking process did however make us appreciate the conveniences we have at home.

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As we are about to take on our final day of walking, we have begun to wonder how this phase will affect our lives at home. Our hope is that we remember the good times and forget about the blisters and aches. But beyond the memories, we hope that we will remember the life lessons indirectly learnt on trek. We will strive to be grateful for all things, no matter how big or small. We also hope to see the bright side of every situation.

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As our memories grow old, these life lessons will stay with us forever. None of us will forget our time living under the stars.


Youth In Civil Society Tanzania