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.
JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

Mary x

Mary’s Project – 2014

Africa, Au Pairing in Paris, Europe, TBT

Hey did you hear the news?! Its a whole new year! In no way is this post a brag or ‘oooh look how exciting my life is’ because that’s lame. I’ve posted quite a lot this year but there lots I’ve missed out. I love the idea of looking back on my blog when I’m old and boring and cringing at what I used to get up to. So here’s my (some of what was missed on the blog) year review. Happy new year to everyone 🙂 10 gold stars to you if you read the whole post…

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2014 was welcomed with my sister and her/our friends (yes we share friends cos we’re totes mature) in a crowded club in London, a group of creepy looking men told us the drinks were on them so we proceeded to the dancefloor, drinks in hand. Next thing we knew the bartender is snatching them off us and we’re laughing uncontrollably and not embarrassed like we should be. Don’t remember how I got home but I woke up on Zoe’s sofa feeling great. I went to Cambridge for Sara’s 21st birthday and had such a good time, apart from the vomit bit (not mine). The following days were spent cramming driving lessons with my instructor Geoff and practices with dad. Mum told me that if I didn’t pass my test I wasn’t allowed to go to Cape Town (already booked). So 5 days before I flew to SA I passed first time.

I packed a huge suitcase, left Mum, dad, G and Peachy and flew to Dubai then Cape Town all alone. Callum and I hadn’t actually arranged where we meeting at the airport but luckily he got there as I arrived. Dirk and his girlfriend Danielle drove us to Edgemead, our home for the next 4ish days. There was a swimming pool so I was happy. Our next home was Bothasig, like the ghetto version of Edgemead. I ate dairy milk top deck, fudge and fanta pineapple almost everyday and worked hard on my tan. I saw old friends at penthouse and generally had an amazing time. The hottest day of the year was spent at the reggae jam in Langa, 42 degrees C. I met Thami and Nomveliso and fell in love with the township. We saw Jeremy Loops and loads of reggae bands. I went back to volunteer at the kindergarten for a little bit, conditions were a lot different to what I had seen before but I loved teaching the little ones dances, nursery rhymes, colours and numbers. I got 2 jobs in the space of a week and worked in a photography studio and kept myself  busy as an entertainer at kids parties. Callum and I made the most of the self timer on my camera and saw the most beautiful beaches, parks and ice skated with the professionals…

I took a week out to see everyone at Otjikondo and it felt like I’d never left. But it was extremely strange not to have Fran by my side. After the few days I stopped in Windhoek, I drank cocktails on a roof bar and took a 24 hour coach back to Cape Town, sitting next to the same girl, Nina, I had sat with on my way. Back in the motherland Nina hired a car and we created new dramas everyday; locking the keys inside, breaking down in the middle of nowhere and getting stuck on the steepest hill in the world. I imagined that would be the place we’d die! We made friends with beach dogs and checked out surfers all day long. A trip to Cape Point was beautiful.

I was the next one to hire a car. I don’t know how to sum up the stresses we had, but we survived and had some wicked days covered in monkeys and beaching it. I saw friends of friends and navigated my way through the madness of the city with no map, no GPS and very little experience and maybe a bit too much ambition. I had dinner with Gilly, Arnold and Oliver and was so happy to see part of my Otjikondo family so close to this new home in South Africa. I drove to the airport and Callum and I met his mum and step dad Bill. More beach days, numerous pizzas and countless tap waters with ice, a straw and no lemon. We showed mum and Bill around and they provided hours upon hours of laughter. We all went to improv classes with some great people and saw a few shows. I went to a helicopter session and enjoyed it more than I expected. Driving to Addo Elephant Park was so memorable; we stopped off at Knysna and saw wild dolphins just as we were standing on the beach. At the elephant park there were all the safari animals and every time we saw an elephant we were speechless. Reversing from a herd wasn’t the best idea (in hindsight) but thrilling in the moment. We made light photos by our little cabins and Callum fell sick and was unintentionally hilarious. Trish and I got hair braids; hers stayed in for a week or two, mine is still in my hair almost 8 months later. We bid mum and Bill farewell as they continued on to Asia.

I went to study a short course at Cape Town School of Photography. It reconfirmed a lot of what I already knew but I got my passion for photography back and met some lovely guys and gals. We spent our last day at the waterfront snapping away. On my way home from class one evening I tried on some outfits in the boutique near penthouse, the shop owners asked me to photograph their new line in exchange for some clothes, an offer I unfortunately never got to carry out. I was also invited to a fashion show at the Grand Daddy Hotel to photograph and chat to the models and designers. Although its not that big of a deal to most people I was pretty proud of myself; I went alone without knowing anyone and was shooting a new style. I spent 1 last night at penthouse and boarded another 24 hour coach to Namibia. The journey was disrupted and I had to make the decision to head to Europe. I had one of the worst days of my life in Windhoek, tirelessly googling solutions and making my way to a few high commissions and embassies.

The weekend before I flew was spent at Otjikondo again and I finally met Chelcie (and Ottilie for the second time). Goodbyes were hard but it was nice to have some proper closure. I met 2 swedish guys in Windhoek who were on the same flight as me, we were a bit slow to get to the airport and managed to be the last ones to board the plane, after our final Windhoek lager. As we flew over Nigeria I saw a  lightning storm and wanted to wake everyone up to show them. It is without a doubt one of the best sites I’ve ever witnessed.

I landed in Frankfurt to a heavy case of culture shock. I spent the next 2 days sulking and hungry because I couldn’t justify €10 for a Mcdonalds… The cheapest thing to keep me entertained was hair dye so I spent my last evening in Frankfurt going blonde. I chatted to Nina and thought the best decision was to go and see her in Berlin. I was the last one on the coach (bit of a ritual now) and didn’t even realise where Berlin was in relation to Frankfurt. Berlin was so cool and I was pretty happy to see nina so spontaneously. I then saw Georgie in South-ish France, I worked harder on my tan, played water volleyball, rescued a baby bird and cycled to the beach. I said bye to her tiny cabin house and got the train to Paris to see Callum. I can clearly remember this as another one of the worst days of my life. It was Sunday and the hotel Callum had booked was no where near paris. I had no phone or internet and everywhere was deserted and there were train strikes. After hours of sitting on the side of the road waiting for non existent buses I finally reached Chilly Mazarin, where we were staying for 1 night. We went out for mussels. The next day I was covered in huge red itchy lumps. I’d had an allergic reaction that got more itchy the hotter I was, unluckily it was one of the hottest weekends of the year. We went from chilly Mazarin to Noisy Le Sec, into a crazy open house that was run by a psycho Chinese guy who couldn’t speak English or french and had anger issues. His wife shouted at us down the phone before we gave up trying to be nice and fled the scene. The weekend was great, despite my constant need to stop and scratch and Callum had made me a video montage with goodbyes from everyone in South Africa which may have made me shed a tear or two..

A cramped coach journey home welcomed us to Victoria station where dad greeted me with open arms and questions over my bright blonde hair. Welwyn Garden City hadn’t changed and summer just seemed to resume as if I’d never been away. I found it hard to have proper conversations with random girls and guys at parties that started with ‘omg you went to Africa, was there monkeys everywhere?’.

I desperately wanted to get back on the road, just like everyone feels after travelling.

It was pretty cool to be reunited with my friends again though. I still managed to really enjoy my summer; working, catching up with everyone I’d missed and enjoying the fact that my sisters wardrobe was now technically mine. Fran surprised me by coming down from Leeds. That was so so so good and sneaky of her and my mum! We saw a bloodied goat at the farm with Mollie and were temporarily traumatised. I took Fran into London where we shopped and went to a mini festival in Camden. I turned 20 and saw almost all of my favourite people and went out in London to celebrate. Camping, more birthdays, weddings, BBQs, seeing Laura Mvula at the BBC proms and a trip to Birmingham completed the summer.

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By August I’d got a job in Paris! Travel bug fed and working with kids, tick tick. I left Hertfordshire once again for a suburb just north of Paris, a new home, family and job. Au pairing was difficult at first, I don’t blame the kids for not warming to me straight away but I couldn’t really complain as my host family were so welcoming and made me feel at home pretty quickly. Gradually the kids have become a lot more cooperative and very friendly despite the occasional drama!  Everyone back home fretted that I’d have no friends and be mega lonely but it was the same situation to starting university (or what I imagine it to be). All au pairs, expats and erasmus students were in the same position. The first few weeks were so sociable and I must’ve met hundreds of girls and guys working, studying or just visiting Paris. I then got into a routine, something I hadn’t really had since Otjikondo. Tefl, work, drinks in central paris, picnics every weekend (always with peach wine), dinner parties and movie nights.

A weekend in Milan, 4 days in Zurich, a weekend home and a day in Brighton, a few days in Ireland and another weekend home including a quick trip to Nottingham all before Christmas holidays meant I wasn’t sat still for too long. I surprised Rhiana for her 21st birthday and it was the best thing ever to see her reaction to me turning up in Boots. I returned home very hungover and saw Charlie and her bump for her baby shower. We played pin the sperm on the egg and decorated baby grows, we’re all a little bit too excited for the little boy to arrive and to be aunties! And I’m so excited to see Charlie be a mummy.

Paris was lively before Christmas and there was lots to be done; a meeting for a zine project, visitors, lots of running, Christmas shopping and seeing a circus musical with Lucie the evening before I took the train to Vienna to see my family for Christmas. I then interailed and couchsurfed in Budapest, Bratislava and Amsterdam. The plan was to also go to Prague but time wasn’t on my side. I honestly had an unforgettable 2 weeks and would do it over and over if I could.

The year was mad and its flown by (doesn’t everyone say this every year? Where are we getting our concept of time from?!) and there was barely a boring day. There have been some major lows in the past 12 months; times when I’ve just wanted to click my fingers and land back in my own bed in welwyn and watch crap tv but when I put things into perspective I’ve been very lucky and the majority of it has been more than awesome. I’ve been in 11 different countries (12 if you include England) and spent hours upon hours in train stations and airports but I’m happy to be traveling as much as possible at the moment. Who has time to sit still!?Screen Shot 2015-01-02 at 01.02.01

If you’ve been in my life at any point in the past year then thank you! I’ve met a lot of cool guys and gals and very few idiots (yay!). And my year would’ve been poop without you.

big uuuup, 2015

Mary x

Hello Otjikondo, Goodbye Otjikondo

Africa

This time last week I’d just booked a flight to Frankfurt but had almost 4 days to wait around in Windhoek for it; 4 days in Windhoek is 4 days too many, so with some broken communication, Gilly agreed for me to come and visit Otjikondo with Ottilie and Chelcie for the weekend. Our wait in Windhoek included ice cream in the park, shopping for fabric for Sara, making use of the internet at the Carboard Box, eating at Nando’s and Joe’s Beerhouse before meeting Paul on Thursday morning.Image

Chelcie and I ended up in the back of the open bakkie with a very strong natural air conditioning, lots of luggage and 2 mattresses to sit on. The mattresses would have been perfect if only they weren’t covered with plastic sheets that flapped around in the wind and made so much noise that it was almost impossible to hear each other.Image

 

Arriving at Otjikondo nearly 5 hours later was no less than magical; Paul beeped his horn and kids came running. Chelcie and Ottilie were greeted by hugs and squels, I got a few of the same then some ‘Miss Mary you’re back again?!‘s… It was great to see everyone again but I had to explain quickly that I could only stay for the weekend so the chance for them all to get a dance lesson was pretty slim, sorry kids!

Seeing current GAPs Rebecca and Eleanor again was awesome and they haven’t changed a bit since I last saw them. We got straight to work on Friday, I opened the shop and helped Destiny learn her rap for one of the songs in Wind in the Willows, their summer play. That evening most of the children watched Frozen in the evening but I went to look after the little boys as their hostel sister was away. We watched Antz and Matilda, I fell asleep on the freezing cold floor and woke up to some of them having a giggle at me. I got a few cuddles before I walked home.

Saturday’s normal routine was replaced with sport; the under 11s, 12s and 13s played netball and football against Kamanjab on maybe the windiest day I’ve ever experienced in Namibia. We won all games except 1 which was amazing! I looked after Brenda’s baby Crushanda and hung out with my girls Tjazupo (my sponsor child) and Eengwi (her best friend) whilst some of the older girls somehow convinced me to let them use my camera so went around documenting the matches and supporters.

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That afternoon was spent running the shop whilst the others did bank (gave the kids their pocket money). I don’t know how it took so long but Priska and I were in the shop until it was dark; we couldn’t find our way out and had to stumble over to Gilly’s house without dropping the bags full of coins and notes we had. I was exhausted and felt so ill but decided not to turn down Paul and Sara’s offer of dinner!

Sunday’s church service was enough church to last me a lifetime; it went on for 2 and a half hours and I can’t bring myself to write any more about it. Tjazupo, Fillemon, Tenesses and Dankie (our sponsor children. + Eengwi came as her and Tjazupo are pretty inseperable) were invited into the GAP garden afterwards and were spoiled by us with presents and sweets. Tjazupo and Eengwi loved their plastic princess accessories and I showed Fillemon how to play snakes and ladders and do races with his toy cars.

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The rest of the day was spent teaching the drama kids a dance, having lunch (Mina’s chicken and chips!!!!) at Gilly’s, messing around with the over excited Grade 7’s, eating fudge in the big girls hostel, reading Mr Strong to the girls in Weavers Nest hostel, hearing the girls own stories and acting them out, dinner with the ex and current GAPs and watching Pitch Perfect in my room with the girls.

Although my visit to Otjikondo was so short it felt really special and it’s always great to see the Stommels, staff, GAPs and children. I said my goodbyes and made sure they weren’t too emotional as I wasn’t in the mood to cry and be upset! I’ll miss everyone huge amounts and know I won’t be able to visit again soon which is a horrible feeling! On the plus side, I’m so thankful that I was able to go back and visit twice less than a year after I finished my 12 months there.

Goodbye Otjikondo, thank you GAPs and Stommels for putting up with me once again! 🙂 Love you, miss you, mean it 😉

Mary x

Changes

Africa, Europe

The past week has been a bit of whirlwind for me and I’ve only just started getting my head together. I left Cape Town on Sunday morning and reached Namibia being told that I wasn’t allowed to return to South Africa for a while. I only had a bag with a weeks worth of clothes and was feeling pretty unprepared. I cried a lot and tried to make sense of the situation and decide what to do next; although I had no desire to leave South Africa I decided that this obviously happened for a reason and someone, somewhere wants me to go to new places. I considered travelling around southern Africa for a few months before going home but I knew I’d feel so close to Cape Town and it would hurt too much to not be able to go. I’d also love to see more of Africa with Callum or a friend because not having someone to reminisce on your adventures with is really hard. So, Africa was out of the picture but so was flying anywhere that passes through South Africa. Which is 99.9% of flights leaving from anywhere in southern Africa. Oh. Multiple trips to different embassies and high commissions resulted in me being none the wiser of my situation so I used my common sense and thought flying directly to Europe (there is only one flight, Windhoek to Frankfurt) was the safest option. I always feel really grown up when I book a plane or train ticket without any assistance from mum and dad, this time was no exception and being alone in Africa and going to a different continent was a new experience. I’m 19, in Namibia for the third time with no clue what was going to happen next.

Luckily I was joined by Ottilie and Chelcie on Tuesday. They both were volunteers (GAPs) at Otjikondo in 2011/2012, the year before Fran and I arrived. I’d met Ottilie last summer when she’d visited Otjikondo again but I’d never met Chelcie, despite many facebook conversations and a few stalks. They both cheered me up massively and helped me see the positive of the situation. That evening we went to Joe’s Beerhouse for meat and some free drinks. Yesterday I booked my flight to Frankfurt for Monday evening. A few more days in Namibia then a the long journey to Germany, ahh! I have no plans for when I arrive so if you have any suggestions please let me know!

Wish me luck guys

Mary x

‘I just want to say goodbye’ – 3rd – 4th March 2014

Africa
Hello,
On Monday the GAPs were still technically on their out weekend so Annika and I took the morning PT lessons but decided to do something a bit different to usual. As Shrove Tuesday is celebrated in Germany by Carnival (and Reiner Stommel is German so there’s always some kind of celebration in Otjikondo) we thought it would be fun to teach ‘Das Rote Pferd’ and a dance to go with it instead of PT. The older Grades enjoyed it and picked up the words really quickly but the Grades 1s and 2s preferred to just make up their own words and dances!
 
At lunch I went to The Stommels to drop something off and ended up staying for chocolate cake and ice cream whilst we listened to Luisa play the piano (result!). That afternoon I finally got all of the sponsor letters finished which was a huge relief, when I went back to see Gilly I realised that the best way for me to get to Windhoek on time for my coach home was to leave Otjikondo on Tuesday with Reiner instead of Wednesday as I’d hoped so I only had 1 more day at Otjikondo. 
 
I went to visit the girls in the hostel to almost say my goodbyes; Kelly and Tracy were sitting on floor using a bin as a drum, Susan and Pehovelo were playing cards whilst some of the older ones played with my hair (my favourite activity). I went to look for my sponsor child, Tjazupo but the girls told me she was ill with mumps in the Sick Bay, when I found her half of her face was swollen and she looked really miserable. Sister Lisetha gave her some cream and a scarf to wear around her face, Tjazupo burst into tears so I told her to go and lie down whilst I read her stories for nearly an hour. It’s obviously horrible to see any child sick and upset but it’s 100 times worse when it’s a child your so close with. Even though I should of celebrated my last evening I felt so downhearted that I had to leave so I stayed in my room to pack and write a few goodbye notes. 
 
Tuesday’s assembly was the last of my visit so Mrs Vermaak said goodbye on behalf of the staff and children at Otjikondo and they all sang ‘We say goodbye to Mary’ which is a personal favourite of mine. Some of the girls came and gave me goodbye letters which always seem to start with ‘I just want to say….’ (the boys are too cool for letter writing) and a few gave me letters to post to my mum, sister and Fran. I tried to get a million and one things done before leaving at 9am but I think I bit off a bit more than I could chew. It was Shrove Tuesday and we were celebrating German Carnival so Rebecca and Eleanor painted the Grade 2’s faces with everything from cat whiskers, beards and flags. Before I’d even got the chance to eat my pancake back home (thank you GAPs!) Reiner was waiting outside the flat beeping his horn so I jumped in the car and waved goodbye to my second home. 
 
Although I only spent a week and a half back at Otjikondo I fully settled back into the Namibian way of life and had an immense time. I made friends for life in Rebecca, Eleanor and Annika, discovered more about the children and spent time with teachers that I didn’t know too well before. I could go on for pages about happy I am when at Otjikondo but I think I proved that by visiting less than 6 months after I left! Thank you to everyone who welcomed me back, I will returning very shortly 🙂
Lots of love,
Mary 
x

‘Shine bright like your mother’ – 2nd March 2014

Africa
Hello!
 
I always enjoy going to church at Otjikondo but Sunday’s service seemed a bit strange; firstly it was Father Erasmus taking the service instead of Gilly and about a third of the children had gone home with their parents so it felt a bit empty. No one really knew what was going on with the songs/marimbas/piano and Father Erasmus even quoted a Rihanna song… He said ‘Who is the most beautiful mother? Our own mothers are the most beautiful. Beautiful like diamonds in the sky’. I tried my best not to burst out laughing. Throughout the day I heard a few children say ‘shine bright like your mother’. 
 
I went straight to the birthday cupboard afterwards to give 3 pieces of clothing to every child whose birthday was in the past week. They all were well behaved, they put the clothes back neatly and found things they liked really quickly which is not usually the case! I even got to help my sponsor child choose her clothes because she’s just turned 8, she then came to the GAP flat garden with her best friend Eengwi to open some small birthday presents that I’d brought and wrapped way back in August (I’d completely forgotten what I’d got). I gave them both presents because I didn’t want Eengwi to feel left out and they were only small things like a fairy wand, Mr Men book, keyring and a few sweets. Little did I know that Tjazupo would have a mini strop because she got 1 less sweet (I must count more thoroughly next time!), I sent them back to their hostels and Tjazupo quickly got over it because Eengwi was kind enough to share her sweets. 
 
That afternoon the GAPs (Rebecca, Eleanor, Iris and Luisa) went on a farm drive with Gilly, Katy and Reiner whilst Annika and I chilled in the garden and went for a quick swim in Gilly’s pool. I was asleep in our garden when Karina, Japs and Destiny threw a massive branch at me through the gate screaming ‘have some spinach Miss Mary! We brought you some spinach, eat it Mary!’. I kindly declined their lovely offer and guessed they wanted some entertainment. I have a great video of them using their best compliments on me as we walked around school, ‘Mary you are the only rose in the garden! Mary you are the sharpest thorn in the bush. Oh Miss Mary you are the only snake that bites, the only key to open my heart, the only Mopani worm that I’ll eat!’. When I sat down to quickly check my Facebook they saw some photos of me from when I was 14, about the same age they are, and were shocked at how different I looked. I personally just think I look a bit lankier and have nicer hair but they were screaming and shouting about how it looks like a different person. ‘Miss Mary, why aren’t you pretty anymore?!’ – ahh you have to appreciate their honesty! After googling things like ‘world’s deadliest snake’ and ‘world’s fattest man’ for a while (they love to google!) we walked over to the big girls hostel where Audrey offered to braid my hair, I chose orange, pink and grey. Meanwhile Karina dragged a big clear container out from her locker, it was filled with murky green water and about 50 tadpoles, Karina never fails to surprise me! She then showed me her photo album where she’s put photos that I’d given her last year when I’d left. As well as a photograph of her in her traditional tribal outfit and she’d captioned it ‘I’m proud of my culture’.
 
Rebecca made a huge lasagna for dinner and I contributed with fudge that didn’t quite set. I don’t like lasagna because food in layers seems very strange to me so I used the mince meat to have spaghetti bolognese. Having 6 GAPs in the flat was hectic but so nice to hear everyone’s stories.
 
Lots of love,
Mary
xxx

‘Hello little chocolate Mary banana!’ – 25th-27th February 2014

Africa
Hello!
The aftermath of receiving presents from sponsors always means the joyous task of getting handwritten replies from the children. With 150 presents being given out Annika and I got straight on with supervising the writing of the letters. You’d think these kids would find it easy enough to write a simple letter as we’d printed a template for them to copy and they only had to fill in their names and what their favourite gifts were but apparently we were wrong. I basically spent my morning nagging them about using capital letters at the start of sentences and dotting their ‘i’s’ (apparently it’s WAY too much effort to just do it without being reminded). 
 
Helping out in kindergarten was a welcome break, there are a few new faces, a girl called Banta (amaaaaazing name by the way, well done parents) was silent all morning until I put on some music to teach dance and she completely changed. Lauda’s son Armando is a new hilarious addition to kindergarten, the children all call him Himba (which translates to ‘poor’) and he loves to just spontaneously say ‘chocolate’, ‘banana’ and ‘let’s go’, as well as ‘Hello little chocolate Mary banana!’.
 
The day brought so much rain which I’m really not used to because when I was here as a volunteer we had almost no rain for the whole year, I think it was the worst drought for 60 years. Now every time I hear the rain (which is a lot by the way!) I’m a little bit shocked and I’m not enjoying avoiding deep puddles everywhere I walk. The afternoon involved dancing in the grass hut, painting shapes for the Grade 2 classroom and chatting to some of the girls I was closest to. We sat in the grass hut for almost an hour while it rained outside, chatting about England, family and school life until Izaura burst into tears asking why I had to leave again next week. Such a horrible feeling. In the evening Annika and I visited the little girls in Weavers Nest hostel to read the girls ‘Goldilocks and the 3 Bears’, they all sat listening attentively even though I’m pretty sure most didn’t understand 90% of what I was reading. 
 
Today I woke up with a banging headache and the usual Thursday empty fridge didn’t help my mood. We ate cake in the staffroom to celebrate Mrs !Unes’ last day of covering for Mrs Brenda. I was then whisked away to cover kindergarten, we coloured in, read stories (Spot the dog, what a classic), sang ’10 green bottles’, had races, ate porridge and played in the playground. Helena cried because she fell over. Olivia cried because she was scared of being at the top of the climbing frame. Paulet cried because she thought I was ignoring her. Armando cried because he didn’t like the see-saw. Banta didn’t cry because I don’t think she knew what was going on.
 
For the rest of the morning and some of the afternoon Tabs and I went to Gilly’s house to put every sponsor letter in their corresponding envelopes, a long job but it had to be done. I then made more friendship bracelets with Lavinia, Grace and a few of the grade 1 girls. Before the children went to supper we all played duck duck goose outside of the art room and a few games of ‘Mr Lion what is the time?’ which they LOVED. The empty fridge meant I made bacon and melted cheese for dinner, the diets going well…
 
Lots of love,
Mary x

 

Project Trust Training!

Uncategorized

HELLO! Woah I haven’t updated in a while, sorry everyone. Since I’ve last posted I’ve been pretty busy. I’ve finished my exams (fingers crossed for results day!), finished work at Sherrardswood (already miss the kids!), started a new teaching job in Westminster and have been on training in Coll! I’m now fully prepared and qualified to teach overseas!

I departed for the Island of Coll on Saturday 30th June with high expectations, the last time I’d visited was for the Project Trust selection course in December where I’d met an amazing group of people and found out loads about the organization, island and new countries that I wanted to visit. This time I didn’t have the fear of not being selected (THANK GOD) but this fear was replaced with the anticipation of meeting my project partner. I still didn’t know who I’d be spending my year in Namibia with and spent most of my 9 hour train journey stressing out that we wouldn’t get along.

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I spent the first night in Oban and met a few other PT volunteers the next day in Oban Backpackers. Sarah, Ben, Jake and I spent hours discussing the different countries we were going to and I persuaded them to try out the amazing pancakes in the pancake place (I did the same on selection, so yummy) . As more PT volunteers arrived we went to the Irish pub to watch the Euro finals. A few of us got bored pretty quickly so decided to meet the rest of the volunteers at the train station, knowing that my partner would be with them.

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Meeting my project partner was so exciting, her names Fran and we both screamed so loudly when we met each other! She’s from Skipton and we’ve got pretty similar interests, well done PT on matching us up! After chatting and meeting the other Namibilinas (volunteers going to Namibia wahoo) we went back to Backpackers to bed 🙂
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Training started straight away on Coll, it was nice being back at Project Trust and seeing the leaders but I felt like I was back at school with a full day of lessons. Over the week we learned more about our specific countries (Guyana and Rwanda volunteers were on the course too) and projects and spent hours learning teaching techniques. We also we taught invaluable lessons on health and safety when overseas.

Me and Fran had a long chat with John Fraser, our country representative, about our project in Namibia. We will both be volunteering at Otjikondo School, a primary school in north Namibia. We will both be teaching Art, Music, Pe, Drama and basic Literacy and reading skills whilst helping with the school library, putting on the nativity and school musical and setting up our own extra curricular activity clubs for the children. As the children board at the school we will also be occupying them during the evening and weekends. Our days will start at 7am and finish at 6pm, 7 days a week for 3 weeks each month. I hope people now realise that this will definitely not be a holiday!
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As well as finding out loads of information, being tested on our knowledge of Namibia and planning and teaching 2 lessons to the other volunteers we also had some time to relax on Coll. We went to the beach (5 minute walk away!) when it was sunny with no intentions of going into the freezing sea but somehow every time we ended up going in and coming out with numb feet 😦 The sunsets were amazing and we even spotted seals and a whale (it was probably just rocks but a whale sounds way more impressive). On the last evening of the training course we had a formal dinner, lots of photos and a ceilidh. Oh and a casual Skype call with the house of commons (random I know).
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Anyway, it was an amazing week back on Coll and emotional to say goodbye to the Project Trust staff and other volunteers. I left feeling so prepared and even more excited to depart, now knowing a lot more about my project and knowing who I’ll be going with! I also know the date that I’ll be flying; so for all of those who have been asking when you’ll finally be getting rid of me… I’ll be leaving on the 28th August!!! It’s scary that it’s so soon but I wish it would come quicker…

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Thank you so much for reading my ridiculously long post, let me know if you want to know more or are interested in singing up for a gap year with PT 🙂 I will definitely be posting more in the final few weeks before I leave so stay tuned.
Bye for now!
Mary x

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