Kenya photodiary -Ol Jogi

Africa, photography

Part 8 and the final part of my Kenya photodiary!
It’s been emosh.

Towards the end of our placement we planned a trip to a village about 2 hours away from Nanyuki called Doldol. On the way there we wanted to visit a safari park called Ol Jogi.

We’d had loads of drama leading up to the trip; not all of the volunteers being able to afford the trip, seasonal rains causing floods, general volunteer behaviour (towelgate dun dun duuuun) and not being able to book the safari. Eventually it all came together and we managed to go! We were a little disappointed when we arrived because Ol Jogi wasn’t exactly a safari, more of a sanctuary. Oh well, I was happy because we’d all seen loads of rhinos and giraffes by the side of the road a few weeks before. And I was lucky enough that Ngare Ndare was safari heaven.

Untitled Simba – Lion Untitled
Untitled Bear – kubeba

This was apparently was Africa’s only bear 😦 He was rescued from a Russian circus. Untitled
Untitled Cheetah – duma Untitled
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Check out this crazy canyon thing!

We loved seeing literally the most random animals (they had dogs, a very tame looking cat which apparently wild, mice, rabbits etc etc) but the main attraction were the 3 elephants. A mum, baby and huge dad. I’ll never get bored of seeing African elephants, they’re just so beautiful and majestic.

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This is it for my film photos but I have plenty more updates which I will either publish on here or on my Facebook – Girl Got Lost. Go give it a like if you wanna see more Kenyan adventures and pics from the places I’ve been!

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Kenya, it was real. Until next time.
hadi wakati mwingine

Maz

Kenya photodiary – Tuko nyumbani

Africa, photography

Part 6.

Tuko nyumbani – we are at home.

I arrived at my second Kenyan host home about a month into the placement. Late to the party as ever. My mum, Peris is the househelp which means she cooks and cleans and generally is a great mother figure. My host dad, Stanley is a retired beekeeper and now an advocate for people with disabilities as well as helping the community access clean drinking water. They are both some of the greatest people I’ve ever met, let alone live with.

It’s not until I really think about it that I realise how many crazy good people there are in my life. Success is measured in different ways and I would class both Peris and Stanley as extremely successful people. They took me in as a ‘volunteer refugee’ and made me feel like I’d always been in their little family unit.

We had bees that lived in the walls of the house because Stanley ‘liked having them around’ and he’d happily let them sting him because apparently it helped with his arthritis. When the honey was processed, towards the end of the program, we helped to heat it, separate it from the cone then Jonathon would assist with the packaging. This meant a house full of honey and happy Mary and Sophie in the mornings when we could just help ourselves to as much as possible. Peris would sometimes just scrape the bottom of the barrel and feed us with a spoon like a bird feeding her chicks. GOOD TIMES.

I didn’t get any photos of Stanley with my film camera because he was always busy with the bees or community projects. But this is Peris.
Untitled Check her out, separating the maize she’s picked from the shamba (farm) Untitled

This is the fire room where we’d heat water for our morning showers. We did have a fully functioning normal shower connected to the main water supply but it was broken half of the time. So not really functioning then. Andrew and I both loved this room; it was so dark, dingy and cold but the perfect place to sit and chat when there was a power cut. It’s also where we sat and stirred honey in the evening.
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If you hadn’t guessed yet, I’m a dog lover. My best mate in Makutano was Shifter.Untitled When I arrived, his paw was split in half because he’d got it caught on barbed wire so Andrew and I bandaged it up using our first aid kit supplies. Unsurprisingly the dressing was gone by the next morning but luckily it all healed up well. Dogs are not domesticated in Kenya and the idea of your dog sleeping in your bed or even coming in your house is a bizarre thought to most Kenyans. Untitled
Shifter’s mum. Nameless
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Shifter’s little sister. She was underfed so resulted in eating 7 baby chicks. Her owners were not happy
Say Jambo to a few of our friendly cows.
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Post run death. Running in Kenya was like a rite of passage for me. I knew the altitude would be a problem (1905m by the way compared to a modest 122m in Hertfordshire) but I didn’t realise what a massive problem it would be. I planned to attempt 10Kms a few times a week. I managed about 2Kms at a time. Oh well, at least I didn’t pass out or anything.

That’s all for Makutano home life. It’s a beautiful thing that we can be so adaptable to move countries, houses and families and feel so at home so quickly. That’s one of my favourite things about Kenyans, is how hospitable and welcoming they are.
2 more posts to come; Ol Jogi safari and Nanyuki town

Kenya photodiary – Sijui

Africa, photography

Part 5.

We’re nearly through with my film photos. This collection is just random snaps from out and about. (Sijui means ‘I don’t know’. I said this word a lot during the cycle. Or ‘Mayolo’ which is the same but in Masai)

You never think about how much you do during a space of time like 3 months until you get home and reflect – mainly by retelling stories 3 hundred million times. People then say ‘wow you did a lot!’. Yeah I guess we did manage to squeeze a lot in even if it felt slow and laborious at the time.

Before starting our placements, we stayed just outside of Nanyuki in Bantu Lodge. Bantu was beautiful. There was a lake, baboons running around, horses, little boats to sail, giant swing sets, a bar, a campfire – basically everything we needed for a few days of training and getting to know each other. The days did go on a bit but most of the sessions were really engaging and interesting. Marketing, international aid, global development, personal branding, health and security and loads more.

I stayed in a room with Elsie (UK vol, 18) and Betty (Kenyan vol, 21). Betty was very quiet but Elsie and I got on so well from the start. We both kind of had the same reservations and worries about things and she was good shoulder to cry on when things weren’t going too well (I was basically a big soppy mess at Bantu. Girl probz)

The boys next door to us washed their clothes and left them on the bush to dry. Casual. Oh and at Bantu we all saw how some of the Kenyans like to brush their teeth with a stick.
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Check out my main man Max! This little pup belonged to my host cousin and was only a few weeks old. He slept in a little tin barrel and loved chasing the chickens. I was the only one to pick him up and cuddle him like a baby because rightly so, everyone feared he had fleas. He definitely did have fleas because I was itchy for days after. So worth it though. No regrats. Untitled Untitled

Thanks boys for making me look like the super keen one while you’re all just chilling giving me weird looks… I promise you that these guys are my mates. Jonathan, Daniel and Peterson. This was taken at the end of our clean up of Majengo slums. It was a weird day; the rain kinda drizzled on our plans and some of the team joining us weren’t too bothered about actually cleaning up the slum but more for the instagram opportunity.
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Untitled We stumbled across these camels in the slums. Random I know. Their legs were tied up and no one was about to explain what the situation was; they were literally just 2 camels in the middle of a field in the middle of a slum. The next day we were talking to a guy who lives nearby and he told us they were preparing them for the slaughter house. Very grim thought but I’d rather they were about to die than being tied up any longer. Weird logic? Untitled Ebony villa. Our home for 2 days over MPR. Emily, Sophie, Lynda and I stayed in this lush apartment while we did our mid-phase review, which is basically summing up the work we’d done so far, facing the problems we’d encountered and coming up with solutions for the future. Untitled The weekend involved teaching the Kenyan volunteers how to toast marshmallows (they kept setting them alight) and doing traditional dances around the fire. Some of the sessions were absolutely hilarious (Danielle had us playing counterpart Mr & Mrs and using Kenyan food as buzzer words ‘Chapati!!! YES!’ ‘Calvin, chapati is not the answer!’) and some sessions were beyond awkward. We had a group discussion between country groups and wrote down all the problems we all had with the other country group. Cue a presentation saying ‘you’re patronising, rude, you don’t know how to wash, your clothes don’t even match!’ Ouch!. Luckily we somehow managed to see past these petty problems and I do think we grew a lot closer for it. It was like burning down bridges to rebuild a stronger foundation I guess. Untitled Look at these LAAAAADS Untitled
‘LAADS’ has somehow been a running joke from sixth form, then in Namibia, Cape Town. It seemed to be missed with the frenchies and spaniards but fear not, I took it to Kenya! ‘Everyone say LAAAAAAAADS’

And I’ll finish off this post with a cute sunrise pic. Mountains and banana trees; what more do you need in life?
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Hapa Kenya, hakuna matata
Here in Kenya, no worries.

Kenya photodiary – Walking safari

Africa, photography

Part 4.
Untitled Ngare Ndare was surrounded by forests and mountains and best of all ANIMALS!!!! I love me a safari I really do Safari in Swahili means ‘journey’ so technically when you go and see these bad ass African animals you’re just going on a standard journey. This is what my cousin Collins and I did on my last day in Ngare Ndare. We took a motorbike (shhh don’t tell VSO) up a little hill about 10 mins from my house and walked through herds of sheep. We were just going for a leisurely stroll and hoping that maybe we’d see some of the Big Five. 5 mins into our walk I saw a little rhino sleeping in the grass. Over the next hour we saw 2 giraffes, a herd of zebras and more rhinos. Which really aint bad saying we were so close to home. All for free! Untitled//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js Untitled//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js (There’s a rhino in there I swear.) Untitled//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js Untitled//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js Untitled//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js Untitled//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js Untitled//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

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Passed this Masai guy on our walk. There are so many Masais in Ngare Ndare but few are willing to have their photo taken (there’s a weird belief that it takes away your soul..). Check out his stretched earlobes and trousers over his shoulder from George, Asda. And the cheeky giraffe in the corner.
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Kenya photodiary – Makutano.

Africa, photography, Uncategorized

Hey, Jambo, Habari.

Welcome to Girl Got Lost (formerly ‘Mary’s Project Year’ – but I’ve kinda stepped over the year mark, sooooo….). I’ve just come back from a crazy 3 months in Nanyuki, Kenya, where I was volunteering with VSO. More about the actual work later; for now, let me share with you some of the photos I took with my film camera. I love using film but it sucks how expensive it is and how valuable my camera is. So I mostly used digital in Kenya and took crappy videos and didn’t care too much for the outcome and saved my film camera for the safety of my home or garden. But now I’ve had the films developed I wish I was more adventurous with my photography and taken more pics at large community events and cultural ceremonies. Oh well, it’s definitely inspired me to take more next time I’m in Kenya/Africa/anywhere!

I’ll try and group the photos so expect a few posts.

Boda Life
Untitled This was taken from ‘Makutano’ which translates to junction in Swahili. So each town has their own area called Makutano but this was Nanyuki’s. We lived 10 mins from town and a further 15 min walk from the tarmac road. Although it was against VSO’s rules we used to travel by boda boda almost everyday. Thats the motorbike you see in the left of the pic. That small seat could carry around 2 or 3 passengers but we’d all seen bikes carrying 5 or 6 people, babies, goats, sofas etc. One time I even saw a bike carrying a cow. It’s legs were folded underneath it and it’s face was as puzzled as mine. Despite 2 near death experiences (seriously, Sophie and I almost had a head on collision with a lorry and another time my driver had to swerve off the road completely because of an oncoming vehicle) we all loved our boda rides. Especially during a night out, getting from bar to club at ridiculous speeds, nothing beats it! Plus it was dead cheap; about 30p for a 10min drive and one time I travelled for a full hour on a boda through forests, past giraffes and on a mud road for the equivalent of £1.60?!

Muddy Makutano   Untitled Untitled Untitled Our rural-town mix house was down a muddy path past a tiny church (you could really hear them screech out those hymns on a Sunday morning), a few grocery shops and guys welding on the street. Welding with zero protection equpiment may I add. Hardcore. I loved where we lived and the twice daily hilly walk because we were away from the bustle (and sometimes danger) of Nanyuki life but close enough to still get in and out quickly. We were down the road from Liki slums where we heard stories of petty crime and a woman getting beheaded. Our team leader also gave a passionate ‘don’t ever go to Makutno’ speech… Eeeeer we live there mate. But at the end of the day we stayed safe and the biggest drama at our compound was that someone stole our neighbours chicken. 50% of the time the road back home was fine, the other half was hell. The rain washed away our hopes of getting home quickly and cleanly. Seriously the path became and fast flowing river and we’d be ankle deep in thick mud. Our host mum would sigh at the state of us when we eventually reached home and would proceed to clean our boots with a machete the next morning. One evening I feel right on my bum because of the slippy road. Another time we saw a snake slither straight past our feet through the water.

Mount Kenya Untitled

Some mornings I would wake up at 5:30 am and there wasn’t much more to do than go for a run. And this was my view. When I used to live in Cape Town I could jog while checking out table mountain and now I had the glorious Mount Kenya to see in the mornings – not bad. The sun would rise from behind and you could see a clear outline of the mountain for a few hours before the clouds would come and hide it. On a really clear day you’d be able to see the snow and glaciers at the peak.

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Untitled (run recovery on the grass. Soon to be covered in excitable dogs and subsequently muddy paws on my face)

Hopefully this has given you a little insight into Kenya and my experiences. I’ll have a few more posts on home life, cultural dress and lots of photos of my beloved cows. Crazy times.

Tuonane baadaye. (see ya laterrrr)

I’ve ran a total of 200 miles! – MazRuns600

Sport

I’m running a total of 600 miles for VSO ICS who are sending me on a voluntary trip to Kenya in September! I’m running everyday and adding up the miles to a grand total of 600 as that’s he equivalent to the width of Kenya, wowzaaaas. See more here 😀

click the button to go to my JustGiving page;

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And read about
my first 100 miles here!

Now I’ve completed 201 miles, meaning I have 399 miles to go until I reach my target. I’d planned to have a little bit more completed by this date but I’ve had to force myself to rest at times to avoid injury. I’m so impressed and pleased with the support from everybody and the donations so far, so a massssssive, genuine thank you if you’ve donated. You guys are da best.

In 3 weeks I’ll be adding 26.2 miles as I’ll be completing a full marathon. Ahh even typing that freaks me out a little. This will be my first marathon but hopefully not my last. It’s the Isle of Man Marathon on 9th August which just happens to be my 21st birthday. So obviously donations are welcomed in place of presents 🙂 And instead of a boozy night out in the evening, I’ll probably be in the bath with blistered feet and sore knees..

The past 100 miles (basically since my last blog post about it) have been nice but challenging as I’ve done a few long runs including 2 half marathons. I’ve hiked, jogged and sprinted. I’ve listened to a lot of Arctic Monkeys, Nirvana, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, The Strokes, SBTRKT, Mumford and Foals. I think its time to retire the indie/folk/rock and get back to my RnB and hip hop!

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Any marathon runners got any advice for me?! I think I’ll feel a bit underprepared until I can go and stock up on more gear back in England and actually train without the fear of passing out in the crazy heat. Yeah I’m still complaining about the heat, sorry!

Last gentle reminder of why I’m doing all this; for this fab charity VSO – ‘Voluntary Service Overseas  is an international development charity with a vision for a “world without poverty” and a mission to “bring people together to fight poverty“. VSO recruits professionals to work as volunteers, living and working alongside local populations in developing countries. Founded in 1958, VSO has sent over 50,000volunteers to over 140 developing countries.’

click the button to go to my JustGiving page;

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

Follow my daily progress on instagram – @marymandefield

or follow me on nikeID – marymandefield

Thanks y’aaaaaaalll.

Mary x

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#MazRuns600

https://www.justgiving.com/Mary-Mandefield/

The novelty of travel.

Murcia

To play while you read 🙂

I feel bad for my baby blog. Yep, lots of bloggers describe their blogs as their baby. I get where they’re coming from but mine is so neglected that if it were to be an actual baby, social services would’ve taken it off me weeks ago. But yeah I feel bad as it’s been put on the back burner whilst I’ve thrown myself into running and everything that comes with it as well as work, Kenya preparation and generally enjoying Spain. Anyway, let’s see if I can keep people updated for the next few weeks whilst I temporarily move back home and do boring adult stuff while everyone else is excited by the thought of a summer holiday.

That’s the thing with living overseas; I’m now getting into my head that it’s likely I’ll have to return to the bright lights of Welwyn Garden City for a month or 2 every summer or winter. This is to give myself to recuperate, see family, sort out my possessions, go to the doctor, make some money and plan my upcoming trips. Oh and see friends aha. This is a blessing and a curse as I hate the thought of not fully moving out (even though I’ve only been at home for about 5 months in the past 3 years!) but I guess it’s good to catch up with everyone/everything.

So I have a week left in Murcia, Spain, and I know it’s going to fly by. For everyone asking; I leave for Kenya on September 23rd so you have 2 full months to see my pretty face! As always towards the end of a trip, I’m having a reflective moment – mainly because I’m poor so am sitting at home doing a whole load of nothing. I’m thinking about the novelty of traveling and how I think it’s worn off. Most of my mates are now graduating and a lot of people are planning trips to exotic locations because of all this new found freedom they have. It’s cool but I can’t help but be a bit jealous of their excitement! It’s like anything else; once you’ve done it for a while the honeymoon period dulls down and it becomes more of a routine. You don’t wake up early and plan your outfit and make sure you’ve got your packed lunch ready and message all your friends before work everyday like you might have on your first day. Because after a while, going to work is just routine. It’s normal.

This is almost how I feel about traveling. It probably sounds dumb as each new place is different and I’ve only seen a very small percentage of what the world has to offer, but in my head most travel is pretty similar; like the actual travelling and preparation takes up most of your time and energy and the gorgeous sunsets, fun days surfing, bizarre meals etc that you post to your social media is a tiny part of the whole picture. I’ve been looking back at videos we use to make in Namibia and South Africa and things were just so much more exciting to us! Every little part of it was new and fun and now I kinda know how it goes. The getting up early for trains, flights and weird ferry journeys. Getting bitten by half the cast of ‘A Bugs Life’. Packing and repacking and then realising you have way too much stuff, repacking again 10 times. Arriving in a new place with the wrong currency. Not knowing the language at all or knowing enough to hold down a conversation but not knowing enough to form your desired opinion. Awkward opening hours and overpriced bars. Noisy guys in your hostel. Cheap clubs but full of creeps. Bloody selfie sticks.

Of course most of being overseas is ah-maaaa-zing and I like totally love the ‘GARP YAH’ life and slowly fulfilling my life goal of being a crazy hippy lady living in the forrest and braiding my hair. But sometimes I feel a bit ‘over it’. I’m not desperate to take photos, videos, keep a diary and every ticket stub I collect. I don’t care for a selfie in front of every landmark (That’s a lie actually) or telling all of my close friends where I am or what I’m doing in each new location.

BUT HEY I hope that just means I’m ready for a change.

Kenya will hopefully prove me wrong that travelling can get a bit same-y.

Kenya is going to be about others and less about my own mood so let’s see how it turns out. I’m excited for the new challenge and to be working in a big group. Who knows if they’ll be annoying me with their over-excitement for the trip and treating it like one big instagram opportunity or maybe they’ll inspire me with their energy and make me feel like one big ungrateful whiner. I hope they’re nice and have the same good intentions for the trip as I do!

I’m also thinking about life after Kenya. Many have commented that I’ll probably stay longer and be reluctant to come home, but due to visas and my general lack of money I doubt that’ll happen. I’m desperate to go Central America to surf, chill and improve my very very basic Spanish. Who knows if I’ll go through with it as my plans pretty much change on a day to day basis. I’d like to go with other people but not as a ‘oooh we’re travelling. Let’s pack our go pros and chocker necklaces!’. So any non dickhead takers for a year in Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Brazil (olympics!) and maybe Jamaica please raise your hand…

Errrrm, I think that’s me done. Please let me know in the comments if you ever feel the same or even get what I’m going on about?! I’m super grateful for what the last 3 years have handed me and I’ve fallen in love with so many places I just think this weird lull in mood and motivation happens in my last weeks in a place. I really and truly love living in Spain but I’m ready to land back in the UK and for my dog to jump into my arms and watch Disney movies in bed without having to worry about crap wifi. And maybe even see a cloud or 2.

Maz x

 (me crying as I left Barcelona. lol maybe the novelty hasn’t worn off)

I’m going to run 600 miles for charity

Africa, Sport

There’s no time like the present to start fundraising for my 3 month voluntary trip to Kenya with VSO!

I’ve had the idea to run the width of Kenya, all 600 miles of it… I’ve used my trusty Google Maps to calculate the distance from the border of Somalia on the east of Kenya to the border of Uganda in the west, passing through the town I’ll be living come September, Nanyuki.

P.s. It’s actually 589 miles but let’s round it up to make it even harder aha.

Sponsor me here! Help a sister out and donate a few pennies or more if you’re a generous type 😉
JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

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Of course I can’t do this in one go so I’ll be adding up my miles from now and hope to complete it in 2 months. I’m setting myself a massive challenge here as I’m not an experienced runner, I’m generally a busy bee and the heat of southern Spain leaves me pretty knackered after work and general errands let alone socialising, friends visiting and travelling. But I love a good challenge; Kenyans are renowned for being some of the best runners in the world so simply running something like 10km would not do the country justice! Haha let’s see how long my confidence lasts ;D

To make it more interesting whenever somebody donates (whatever amount, I’d be chuffed with £1!) they’ll have the chance to request adding something to make the journey more interesting. I’m thinking running in a silly hat, fancy dress, a weird hairstyle, face paint etc. Also you can request other sports to contribute to the 600 miles; swimming (I don’t have access to a pool but I’m close enough to the beach), cycling, walking or hiking. I’m open to some wacky ideas if you’re donating! I’ll update my blog and Facebook Page with photos and videos of proof and commentary of how it’s going (expect sweaty selfies and videos of me generally dying of exhaustion yay).

I’m excited about this as my first fundraiser for the cause and probably the toughest challenge I’ve set myself. Please share my JustGiving page if you want to support and donate if you’re feeling super sweet; stay tuned for news of how my 600 miles is going!

Let’s start this; 600 miles / over 965km to travel to Kenya to volunteer with those a lot less lucky than you or me.

Share you support with this hashtag #MazRuns600

Mary x

So, I’m moving to Kenya

Africa

Well, not forever but I found out yesterday that I will be spending 3 months in the beautiful country!

Quick catch up; I’m in Spain at the moment, I’ll leave on 21st July to go to England then on 23rd September I’ll be travelling to Nanyuki in Kenya to complete 3 months of volunteering with VSO ICS. How exciting! (yeeeeees I plan on going somewhere else before September but maybe winning to lottery also has to be somewhere in my plans…)

I’ve only been told that I’ll be working on a programme called Secure Livelihoods; their main objective is to strengthen the ability of disadvantaged people to access sufficient food and income, and to have more control over how and when they access these essential lifelines. I’ll find out more about my exact roles and responsibilities very soon.

I’ve never been to Kenya before and don’t have many preconceptions as I don’t (knowingly) have any friends from there so it will all be brand new to me. The town of Nanyuki seems to be a market town with a lot of speeding motorbikes, hustle and a close community. It’s also on the equator which will be cool, I don’t know why but the equators always fascinated me!

In order to go on the volunteer placement I will have to raise £800 in the upcoming weeks. This is definitely going to be the toughest challenge pre-departure as I almost feel emotionally prepared for ‘African life’ already and things like vaccinations and packing lightly aren’t really an issue for me (I say confidently now ha). I have some fun ideas for fundraising and hope to do a variety of events and challenges to raise the money and not just rely on badgering people on social media for donations (although I’m sure I’ll manage to sneak some of that in too. yay sorrrrrry).

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I know a few asian countries were possible options to volunteer in but I’m grateful in a way that I was placed in Africa. Firstly, I doubt I’d ever go to Kenya alone (as in, not being looked after by an organisation) whereas I wouldn’t think twice about jumping on a plane to Asia so it’s a great chance to see Kenya more like a local. Secondly, I obviously love Africa! The people, culture, way of life, weather, everything! I also have seen the positive effects of great volunteering in Africa and would be stupid to turn down that opportunity again. The only downside at the moment is knowing how close (as in close in african terms, a few countries away) I’ll be to Namibia and Cape Town and not having the chance to go and visit my extended family. But apart from that I’m feeling so grateful to be placed in Kenya.

I will do a whole new post about fundraising very soon so will have more information about what I’m planning but it would be dumb not to link my JustGiving page here now – https://www.justgiving.com/Mary-Mandefield

If anyone reading this has been to Kenya before, maybe even volunteered there or has any advice, fundraising ideas or general words of encouragement then obviously it’s all super appreciated!

I’m feeling pretty lucky that I can combine my love for travel with my want of helping others and living more sustainably, I can’t wait to find out more about my placement 😀

Don’t hate, donate.
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Mary x

Settling in and exciting news!

Murcia

I’ve been living in Murcia for a few weeks now (3ish I think) and am feeling pretty settled! I can’t say I’ve done anything particularly Spanish or weird since arriving but I’ve kept myself nice and busy and have really enjoyed it so far. I’ve been working for an English academy; tutoring adults and children. I think I prefer the kids because I get to just play around (whilst teaching obvs) for an hour and a half and get paid for it. Today I watched the boy I teach play Mario Kart whilst I excitedly narrated in English and he repeatedly told me to be quiet. Teaching this kid is kinda funny as the grandma speaks spanish and french and the kid only spanish. So we awkwardly greet each other in French, if there are any problems she’ll speak quickly in spanish then french whilst I try my hardest to translate in my head and reply. And the boy ignores my attempts to get him speaking English. The weather has been crazy good; great most of the time but sometimes we just moan about the heat. Just wish our air con worked and we had a paddling pool or something. It’s only going to get hotter so I’m prepared to reach optimum browness. Apart from working we’ve been eating, gyming, beaching and being really productive watching BGT and Louis Theroux documentaries.

Last week I went home for 2 days (timed it quite well with elections and voted for the first time wahoo); my flight there was so strange. I was seated by the emergency exit so they gave me a little talk about how to open the door in an emergency and kindly asked me to remove anything from under the seat in front of me. Then it came to landing in Luton, I had nothing with me; no books, no headphones, no food, the only thing I had was a thin cardigan. Literally taking up 10cm on my lap; the flight attendant made me move it! ‘Please put it on or place it in the overhead compartment’ lol seriously!?

I was back in England to attend an assessment day for ICS VSO – a 3 month, government funded, overseas voluntary placement. They send young people to some of the poorest places in the world to contribute to development projects. Obviously that’s a pretty vague and broad statement but they appear to do some great sustainable work. The assessment day was good but not quite what I expected in terms of the amount of information we were given about the possible placements. I left wishing I’d seen more visual information about where we could be going and more examples of the potential work. I did meet some lovely people though and enjoyed the ‘what would you do in their position’ problem solving.

In all honesty I can’t give an unbiased opinion of any volunteering selection process because I’ve done it before. Anyway, I came back to Spain on possibly the worst flight of my life (I mean, I’m super grateful I caught my flight and it was all safe but it was a pretty horrendous experience nonetheless), the flight was full of classic LAAAADDDSSS all heading to Alicante and Benidorm for boozy holidays. Most people were drunk before take off and continued to drink, chant and be as rowdy as possible for the 2 and half hours. There were families with young kids who were probably a lot more annoyed than I was. The air stewards continually made announcements to ask people to sit down and calm down. Failing that the pilot repeatedly asked passengers to take note of the seatbelt lights and to stop shouting. A few persistent passengers still carried on and the stewards were losing patience, one air hostess was nearly in tears as she apologised to me for not being able to get the drink I’d ordered. LADs,why be a dick on a flight?! Why can’t people wait until we’ve landed then head straight to the bar!?

To make matters worse we had to be held on the flight for an extra 15 minutes because so many guys wouldn’t listen. This meant I missed my coach to Murcia and had to wait almost 2 hours (in the crazy heat) for the next one. I hate flying in summer!

Anyway, a few days ago, back in Murcia, I got the news that I’d been accepted for the VSO programme! I don’t have much information of what I’ll be doing because they have to clear my medical forms before choosing my placement. But yay! I’ll be volunteering with locals somewhere either in Africa or Asia for 3 months, probably departing around the end of August. I’ll have to raise £800 before departure so that’s another challenge to think about once I have more information.

That’s all for now

Mary x