Jambo rafikis 👋 Good day to you!
Thank you for clicking through to my post. I hope your Christmas season is going well ✨🎄🎁🎅🏽🤶🦌🌰🎉
Lorna, Patrick, and I taking a well-needed shade break! ☀️🔥💦🥵
Firstly, thank you to everyone who has supported this wonderful venture of mine. I hope you enjoyed your cake? It’s not much, but I like to thank people and I hope that this conveys at least a fraction of my deep appreciation.
I take it that you are also here to find out where your sponsorship money has gone and what it has funded? Well, please grab a cuppa and keep on reading as I will be delighted to tell you ☕️🍪😁
My amazing employer paid for a group of 19 of us to physically go to Tanzania to build the Kazunzu Village of Hope with the Vine Trust, which is the largest building project ever to be undertaken by the Vine Trust!
Our several days on the worksite included digging and filling the foundations of houses 7 and 8 as well as aiding in the construction of the walls to lintel level as part of phase 1 of the project. We also helped to dig a giant toilet pit that is 6 foot deep!
As a pre-requisite to the trip, 20 of us (unfortunately, one couldn’t make the trip) had to raise £1,000 of funds each, and as a team we managed a whopping total of £23,510.19!!! I was so lucky to have some amazing donors, and I managed to raise £1,125 of that total within 3.5 weeks! … And there is still more coming in (14/12/2019: £1,255)!
If you would like to make a donation, please follow this link here: https://www.vinetrust.org/u/f62fc. And then, I’ll sort you out with some cake 🍰😋 I’ve endeavoured to give everyone who’s donated at least a slice; it’s not much, but I like to thank people and I hope that this conveys at least a fraction of my gratitude 🥰💝
Kazunzu Village of Hope 💖
The work of the Jubilee Hope Programme highlighted the plight of widows and orphans living on the islands of Lake Victoria, Tanzania, and particularly young women who are susceptible to exploitation by the migrant fishermen. HIV is a particular issue on the islands.
The Village of Hope will be a centre of excellence in providing a future, education, and training, constructed on a piece of land to the West of Mwanza, on the shore of Lake Victoria in Tanzania. The village will consist of clusters of around 40 individual homes, housing up to 6 orphans and a ‘mama’ figure, providing a stable family environment in which they will grow and flourish. Each cluster will share a small ‘shamba,’ or cottage garden, to grow crops for their own consumption and the possibility of selling on excess produce they don’t eat.
A Vocational Training Centre will provide hands-on learning opportunities for those in the village and the broader community, and will offer training in farming, carpentry, and crafts. Schooling will be provided in later phases for the children living at Kazunzu and the surrounding farms and villages.
The plan for Kazunzu Village of Hope; we were working on building the clusters of homes as part of phase 1 🏘️
Sustainability will be key to the success of such a programme and we hope to create an array of income opportunities for the villagers. There will be an area of land set aside for farming cash crops (of peppers, tomatoes, and cut flowers in poly-tunnels), and we are also exploring the possibility of a series of fish ponds where the villagers can farm tilapia; 1.5 kg of tilapia fetches TZS 8,000 (£2.80).
The first phase of construction will focus on building the first 15 homes as well as the Vocational Training Centre and addressing some of the infrastructure elements such as water and sanitation.
Village of Hope build phases:
|Phase 1||Phase 2||Phase 3||Phase 4|
• Tree avenue
• Tree boundary
• Building of 12x homes
|• Building of 16x homes
• Junior school
•Vocational Training Centre
|• Building of 12x homes
• Health hub
|• Senior school|
And, one thing I absolutely LOVE♥ about this charity work is that they are 💯% into sustainable projects, which means that those they help will be able to help themselves long after their charity work is completed.
What did I do?
My amazing employer paid for a group of 19 of us to physically go to Tanzania, after raising £1,000 each, to spend several days on the worksite! The team consisted of 9 of us from Babcock based in Devonport Royal Dockyard, 2 from Bristol, 1 from Canada (the other Canadian had to drop out, unfortunately), and 7 from the Scottish Babcock sites.
Our work included digging and filling the foundations of houses 7 and 8 as well as aiding in the construction of the walls to lintel level as part of phase 1 of the project. We also helped to dig a giant toilet pit that is 6 foot deep!
My shovelling technique is awful! Think I was squeezing in a cheeky rest 🤨
Where do the funds raised go?
Africa Inland Church Tanzania (AICT) oversee the purchasing of the materials, the hiring of the fundis (builders), and the payment for their work; the Vine Trust collect the financial resources necessary to support the construction and transfer these directly to AICT, who then manage all aspects of the construction. It is extremely important to the Vine Trust that their in-country partners, who have the local knowledge and expertise, manage the construction of the homes and the development of the programme, rather than being micro-managed from the UK.
A Kazunzu house costs around £8,000, including building materials and labour charges. This may vary slightly as time goes on, but there shouldn’t be a huge variation as the Vine Trust moves forward with the next clusters in 2020. The land is owned by AICT who have given it for the building of the Village of Hope.
The fundis (builders)
The fundis themselves work hard. They’re underneath the relentless sun grafting all day. A fundi earns TZS 20,000 Tanzanian shillings (£6.78) per day, and an assistant fundi earns half that. They work from around 07:30/08:00 until 17:00-18:00 each day, in the sweltering heat (there is minimal shade on site), for 6 days of the week and stay on site; they go home on a Saturday evening or Sunday morning, ready to be back on site for work by the Monday.
Their working conditions of the fundis makes you reflect on how good working conditions are at home. There were workers standing on top of the house walls putting the roof structure together whilst sawing the beams barefoot at height! A lot of fundis were hacking away at the ground to dig large trenches and foundations in barefoot, standing in close proximity to one another with no safety equipment at all.
❗ No shoes, no safety helmets, no harnesses, all whilst hacking away at the ground in a confined space and sawing standing half on the edge of the roof!!! ❗
First, you’d start off as an assistant fundi, then with enough experience become a fundi, and the chief engineer, Leonard, is the man behind the plans (quite literally). He, along with the pastor of Kaunzu, kindly showed us the Kazunzu site boundaries on our first day on the worksite. Leonard was always very smartly dressed in brightly coloured shrits.
Image: Matteo, the head fundi, with freshly caught tilapia straight from Lake Victoria! 🐟
Matteo was the head fundi of the site. I also got speaking to various other fundis, such as Ambrose, who was also known as the ‘Witch Doctor.’ I never found out why that was his nickname, but he was 23 and always very jovial! He was often mixing cement with a shovel (no cement mixers here!), and that was pretty hard labour.
George was a fundi particularly renown for his strength! He moved bricks and rocks with ease and when he called me strong one day, I felt like it was the biggest compliment ever!
I spoke to Chica (in the green shirt) quite often and he was always working hard in the pit! These two made a great team and never complained once. I think they appreciated our help and enjoyed us getting involved with their work.
I’m not sure what Ambrose and I found so funny with this bucket of cement 🤔
On our first day in Mwanza, we stopped off to view the Vine Trust barge before travelling to Sengerema. It was so fantastic to see the barge and hopefully this post will help to raise awareness of the important service they provide to the islands of Tanzania.
Princess Anne visited the barge in November 2014 before it started its medical journeys in 2015. The crew provide well-needed medical care to the nearby islands. Some people travel far to get their medical needs met by the barge because it’s cheaper, including travel, than seeing their local doctor.
The dentist can do up to 150-200 tooth extractions in an expedition, which is around 8 days long (with 1 day off as rest). This is because most people aren’t aware or trusting of root canals and fillings; they think the tooth will still cause them pain so 98% opt for an extraction.
The Vine Trust Medical Barge 🏥🛳️ and the dentist chair onboard 🦷
The Vine Trust Barge team is very friendly, have amazing spirit – their work seems extremely stressful but I can only imagine how rewarding it must be to improve the lives of those around them.
They always need volunteers and it’d be such an amazing experience! Do get involved – no medical experience required!
It’s going to be so hard to distil some of the more memorable and interesting moments in as little as possible, but to summarise, the highlights of this trip included:
Here is a link to the blog we kept whilst away for those who wish to see a little more of what we did on a day-to-day basis: https://www.vinetrust.org/blog/GeoffBrereton.
We had to travel quite a lot during our two weeks away. Below is a map outlining our travels: we flew from London Heathrow to Dubai, then to Dar Es Salaam, and then onto Mwanza where we stayed there for the first two nights.
Every day we had to make the journey from Sengerema to Kazunzu via coach; it took about 1.5 hours each way along the ‘African Massage Road,’ which was one of the longest and bumpiest journeys I’ve ever had 🤣🚌
When we all arrived at Mwanza airport, we were greeted by Sinead and Elly, our project co-ordinators. They are both lovely people, and Elly particularly likes a sing-song! On the bus trip to the hotel we learned our first Swahili song: Jambo Bwana!!
Jambo, Jambo bwana.
Habari gani, mzuri sana.
Tanzania yetu hakuna matata.
Jambo is such a friendly greeting that people seem to say it as happily as the word sounds! I don’t think we’ll ever forget this song! At random times on our bus journey or over dinner Elly would start singing this and we’d all join in; it was so infectious that I think almost everyone started the song at some point during the trip.
After staying in Mwanza to sort out some admin and see the Vine Trust Barge, we had a couple of hours travelling via our musical bus and a relaxing ferry crossing to Sengerema, where we stayed for most of the trip.
Each day we had to travel to the worksite in Kazunzu in the bus – and it was one of the bumpiest journeys I’ve ever had! Of course, that depended on how fast Joseph, our bus driver, wanted to go… it took about 1.5 hours each way. The bus has apparently been running for 5 years, which is quite impressive, considering the bumpiness of the roads it has to endure!
The beautiful ferry crossing as part of our journey to Sengerema.
Future plans are to have volunteers stay on site, although I really enjoyed the bus journey each day: the sights and sounds of rural Tanzania never got old, and it provided good reflection and thinking time. People were generally very amused at the sight of us (although walking through town and having kids shout and chant, ‘Mzungu! Mzungu! Mzungu!’ – white people, white people, white people – is always going to be something I’m never comfortable with…). There were loads of motorcycles on the road, and I can see it as a fast and efficient way of travelling, but there were many unsafe practices that just would not be allowed in the UK!
There were people in rural areas on mobile phones, which was quite odd to see. There were also many people carrying items that seemed to be delicately and precariously balanced on their heads – the way the mangoes were always stacked looked like an amazing geometric pattern and always caught my eye. I also noticed that most women seem to wear more traditional African dress, whereas men just tended to wear jeans and t-shirts. There were also plenty of skinny cattle and dogs, chickens, ducks, and lots of wildlife such as birds and lizards, to be seen along the roads.
When travelling via bus, most people were really happy and keen to wave. Although there were some that made gestures pertaining to money instead of a wave. It made me wonder how different everyone feels at the presence of foreigners in their country, or rather, their impression of us. But most of the time, children would run out of their homes and through the maize to literally scream, smile, and wave frantically at the bus going by just to get a wave back it seemed. This was always so infectious and delightful to see.
You can really feel the joy in this video ☺️
The worksite itself has little shade. I wore sun cream for about 2 of the days, and I burnt my nose! The heat was intense, especially seeing as we aren’t used to that much sun exposure. And I’m ~30% sub-Saharan African myself, and even I struggled at times! There is something meditative about hard graft that I appreciated, and it struck similar chords as to why I do so much exercise at home. I feel that all of the phys I’ve done in my life was put to good use during this expedition, and it was even noted by others, which was fantastic. Lugging a 50 kg cement bag over your shoulder, which is a pretty standard weight for women at the gym where I train, felt pretty gratifying knowing that this cement was to go directly towards the building of these houses. Not to mention doing my bit for women on the worksite! 😉
50 kg with a smile; I even cleaned it up myself! 💪
A lot of the work was very lower back heavy; I can see why they call this backbreaking labour, because it literally can be! I am a lower back dominated mover, so I didn’t mind so much. However, I used it as a chance to work on my body awareness by trying to engage my legs instead. This is something I’m trying to work on in the gym back home, and is why I don’t do certain movements like heavy deadlifts of push presses, because I hinge off of my lower back instead of using my legs and abs. For some reason it’s not with all movements. But I think the nature of this work makes it hard to use the legs, and lower back is definitely where most of the pounding takes place. You really have to lean over to get stuck in because as the foundations/trenches got deeper the more you had to lean forward to get the right angles to shovel… it was almost like a Romanian deadlift without the hamstring involvement!!!
On the first day, the only PPE (personal protective equipment) I wore were the boots… I regretted it! I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but I spent a lot of time shovelling and pickaxing on the first day – I got struck straight in and come to realise that I love pickaxing way more than shovelling (but I ended up doing way more shovelling)! And yes, my hands are pretty calloused from the various bits of strength and conditioning I’ve been doing, but not in the areas that rubbed whilst on the worksite; I seldom get wounds in these places and I was surprised how fast they appeared. I ended up with some pretty whopping blisters by the end of the day, and from then on I wore my gloves. Luckily, my nan really kindly packed me an emergency kit before I went with some good solid sticky bandage that I used to wrap my vulnerable spots! Thanks, nan 😇🏥
The medical kit thoughtfully packed for me by nan; honestly, it was the most useful thing I took with me! Thanks, nan 😁🥰
Once the foundations were dug, we spent a lot of time making daisy chains to move rocks and buckets of soil to fill the foundations, and then bricks and buckets of cement to lay the walls. We also had to do a lot more digging of ‘the pit’ and ferrying buckets of water to the site from a nearby reservoir to mix the cement. I spent most of my time shovelling, which I found to be the hardest work.
Actually, the hardest shovelling and pickaxing of the whole work site, in my opinion, was in ‘the pit.’ I was often a shoveller there and the ground was relentless (as you can see in the video above. And I was also often the person in the pit who had to pass buckets of clay and soil up out of the pit to the daisy chain for it to be taken away; this job was almost like a mini game from something like Mario Party, because you had to do this quickly, without getting in the way of the shovellers and pickaxes, whilst catching empty buckets (‘empties’) as they were thrown back to you, for you to place in front of a shoveller in an appropriate spot so they could shovel more into it. It was quite fast paced and you had to watch your back – the clay was very heavy and if you couldn’t get the right position to lift there was potential for someone to really hurt themselves. And also to not get in the way of those hacking away at the ground with their tools! It was tough, but I quite enjoyed that job. And finding the balance between the right amount of shovellers and bucket passers was an art for optimal speed was an art that we had to refine as a team.
Overall, I think I worked pretty hard… I remember one day when our group was split into two teams, one of which would go and work in ‘the pit,’ people were commenting that the team I was in only had 2 guys, to which Becky said, ‘yeah, and Charlotte!’ I take that as either 1) I look like a man, or 2) I worked like one… I’ll go with the latter (I hope!). I took it a as compliment 🙈 And Patrick said that in the picture below I should definitely be holding a shovel, because I did end up doing a lot and really dug out (no pun intended). Others commented, too, like Stephanie, Lorna, and Katie, on how hard I’ve been working, and that I’m always in the thick of it and in the action. That really made me proud because that’s what I was hoping to do! And the fact that others recognised that I got stuck in and worked hard is truly an honour to me.
This was a hard day in the pit, and we all dug out (no pun intended!) ⛏️
I find the hard work more rewarding but there are definitely moments, especially when you stop and step back, where you don’t want to get started again as it’s too hard. It reminds me of a hard workout, or doing sporting competitions: you do one hard workout and you don’t want to do another and get yourself mentally back in the thick of it, and physically, too (as sweating in that heat isn’t very nice).
The fundis work very hard. I cannot overstate this. They work relentlessly and also with a sense of urgency, which reminds me of life in the Royal Navy Reserves; everything we do during our Practical Leadership Tasks has to be with a sense of urgency, calmness, and good humour!
I guess the dance party that we had on one particular day on the worksite was really well received! It started off with some of us mzungus dancing to really cheesy 90s pop music that was playing from Shane’s speakers. The fundis did seem to take a while to come out of their shells, but as soon as Sinead decided to play some sleek Tanzanian dance music, off everyone was dancing to these amazing beats! I wish I had the confidence to dance like this outside of my own home.
I wish I had moves like Elly!
Worksite dance party 🕺💃🩰
Local kids would often come to watch us work, and many times they were told to go back to school. But after school they’d come straight back to watch. During our dance party afternoon, Elly then changed the tunes to Tanzanian children’s songs, and the tone of the party instantly changed to family friendly dancing. It was great to get everyone involved and was a fun way to end the afternoon.
Family friendly dance party ☺️
Kids on site! 👶🧸🚸
On the Sunday morning, we went to AICT Sengerema church. We sat through a long 2-3 hour service, which none of us could understand as it was all in Swahili, but it was permeated with lots of fantastic dancing full of passion, vigour, and rhythm. If dance permeates their cultures as much as I think it does, I can see why everyone has natural moves! The live music was incredible, and it was a service to be enjoyed by religious and non-religious folk alike.
During the service, our team was introduced to the local church community to tell them of why we’re visiting and the work we’re doing. We all then stood up in front of a good few hundred people and the four elected of us spoke. It was Sinead first, then David, then Stephanie, Kalen, and Patrick. Elly translated for the five.
Being introduced to the community and kids of AICT.
Everyone spoke really, really well, especially David’s speech entirely in Swahili, which was really impressive! But Kalen’s speech was so moving. He spoke about why he wanted to come, firstly because of wanting to experience the beautiful country, and finally because of his own motivations in wanting to build a stable home for these orphan children in Kazunzu. The speech has a few of us see tears rolling down our cheeks… myself included. It was a beautiful moment in which the feelings I had at the time will be forever encapsulated in my memories.
In all honesty, I was sensitive throughout the whole sermon actually, and that whole day. And Kalen’s talk really set the tone for the rest of the day for me and tugged so much at my heartstrings. It made me think about my own values: family is a huge one for me. It’s mostly unspoken because I don’t think about how my life would be different without my family too often, although sometimes I do. I’d be nothing without them. And the bond I have with my family is something I wish for everyone to have.
The following day we met the local church pre-school kids in the morning to play before heading to the worksite! We entered the church where all the children came in and sat down, at the direction of their teachers, and they greeted us with the most melodic song they had learned in English and sang ‘we are happy to welcome you!’ I was so grateful that they learnt a song just for us!
We then split up into mini groups and played with parachutes, paint, bubbles, and footballs. They tired each and every one of us out! I spent most of my time launching children into the air to pop Cam’s bubbles… eventually then they didn’t care about the bubbles and just wanted launching in the air! I was knackered!
Then, I brought out my juggling balls! 🤡 But… they weren’t interested in juggling with me… we literally ended up playing a game where I’d give a kid a ball they’d run up the church steps and throw it back to me to catch. Then they’d run back down. That was it. That literally was it. ⚽ They were so happy with this and I loved playing with them! Unfortunately, two of my balls got lost by the end, but it was a small price to pay for the amount of fun we all had. 😁
The kids literally just wanted to be launched in the air! It was equally as fun for us all… until I ran out of energy 😅
There was also a time where Kalen was beatboxing and doing a dance and it had several children captivating and mimicking his moves! I had this on video but I don’t think my phone was recording (classing old person not being able to use technology), which is such a shame. As the beatboxing even kept me entertained! 🤣🙈
And finally, I sat down on the steps and learned the Swahili for ‘I’m old and tired!’ I said this to the kids. I think they got the message! But then Epi was painting my nails in green chalk while Abi was showing me her schoolwork. She was teaching me some words in Swahili for various things and I was teaching her the English equivalent. I thought it was really impressive that they were learning both English and Swahili for everything. It made me sad that mum didn’t pass Yoruba down to me and Tim.
A post-play photo; you can see me in the bottom right being occupied by Epi and Abi 🤣💅📖
When we came to leave they sang a similar goodbye song to us, which tugged on the heartstrings of many of us. It was so beautiful to hear them singing and in the short amount of time we had been there we all felt we had made little friends for life.
And, on our last day, we were so lucky that we got to go on a SAFARI! We were so excited for this! And, a major positive was that we were actually encouraged to do this in order to support the local tourism. So it’s a win for all 🙈
Our safari (literally Swahili for ‘journey’) was in the Endless Plains, otherwise known as the Serengeti. We were so lucky that we saw all sorts of animals: tortoises, terrapins, lionesses and their cubs, zebra, elephants, crocodiles, giraffes, hippos, etc. We never saw any rhino, unfortunately. But we were so lucky to see all that we did. I made a large list on Google Docs Offline of everything that we saw, however, the file had a sync error and unfortunately I lost three days worth of a LOT of personal notes and reflective thoughts that I had made into the ether. 😭 I tried to hard to get it back, but I support it’ll teach me more the art of letting go…
Patrick and I with our amazing tour guide! He was very knowledgable about the wildlife found roaming around the plains.
On the day of the safari, I feel that it’s important to mention that we had two breakfasts! We had to wake at 05:00 and had breakfast at the hotel in Mwanza, and then when we got near the safari site, we stopped off and had an unexpected second breakfast, which was delicious! I could make a habit of second breakfast…
Speaking of food: Titus fed us really well on the trip. He provided delicious evening meals (always consisting of rice and beans as a side) and a packed lunch that we had on the worksite. Oh, and the others had breakfast, too (7 of us had to stay at a different site). We were all fed really well; it was carb heaven.
Regarding lunch on the worksite, we were each provided a box filled with lots of snacks. My favourite were the samosas, followed by these madeleine-type cakes we got in our first lunch. I always covered everything in my box with peanut butter (it makes a great accompaniment to everything! 🥜).
And every day I’d always look forward to our carton of mango juice! This was such a novelty for us that most of us ended up ordering it at the Golden Stone bar right next to where we were saying (I was staying with the 7 on the separate site). But they didn’t come in glasses, ohhh no. They came in litre cartons! I’m going to miss going out anywhere in the UK and not being able to order a litre carton of cold mango juice and not have anyone think it’s unusual. I may just do it anyway, it is just too good! 🥭🥛
Top left: a starter we had one evening of pumpkin soup with salami bread (that was still warm from the oven!) – this was a lovely treat! Top right: tilapia with sauce, yam, and our usual rice and beans; one of my favourite meals.
Bottom left: a worksite lunch of beef, a hard boiled egg, a banana, mango juice, and 2 cakes. Bottom right: meat samosas (my favourite from all of our lunches!) and plantain.
Continuing with the theme of food: we went to a market one afternoon/evening and Kalen, Patrick, and I wanted to sample the local fruits. Kalen shared with me his avocadoes often on the trip as we shared a similar love for them. 🥑 We served up the avocadoes in slices to the others that evening that Kalen kindly bought, and I tried a sungwi fruit… they’re… strange! Almost like a small plum but when you bite inside the pit is large and the texture is a little like an olive. There was a thick brown juice that came out of it. I’m not sure what it tasted like… not bitter, but definitely not sweet. Almost savoury.
Left: a sweet and tart passionfruit. Right: the sungwi fruit!
The market place in Sengerema sold all sorts of amazing exotic fruits 🍍🥭🍌🍉🍋🥑🌶🥬😍
So, as well as food being a favourite of mine (of course; anyone who knows me well knows I like me grub!), I loved learning the Swahili songs! I was always embarrassed at first, but when everyone is in a singing spirit, it really fosters an amazing atmosphere 🤩
We learnt our second song, mbuga za wanyama Tanzania, near the end of our trip, and I think it’s my favourite:
🎤🎶 Mbuga za wanyama Tanzania. Ya kwanza ni Serengeti ¡Ngorongoro ¡Manyara! ¡na Mikumi! Tanzania: Oh, yeee! 🎶🎤
And I will end this section with a few words and phrases in Swahili, which are super fun to learn and use!
Oh, and I’ve also learnt as much Scottish and Welsh as I have Swahili during this trip! I’ve been so lucky to have been included with a great group of people. 😊
It has been exactly 1 month since we have arrived home from Tanzania, and I’d like to please share with you some personal reflections, should you wish to read.
Simplicity: we were all amazed at how the children were happy with the items that we bought for them to play with; hours of entertainment and joy from things so simple. This really emphasised the value of spending time and sharing with each other, which brings up the next point about community and team building: we were a very sociable group and enjoyed playing a lot of simple games (such as Werewolf and Salad Bowl!). This fostered a lovely sense of community spirit within us that I’ve definitely brought it back with me. It’s been fantastic to assist in building communities in less wealthy areas whilst simultaneously doing it for ourselves – it’s true what they say in that to get you have to give!
Adaptability: I also wanted to just add something in about the power of adaptability. The fundis get used to working in the heat. I’m sure we can, too, if we persevere. It’s the same with anything…
It’s amazing how adaptable a person can become – although the heat was difficult for most of us, by the end there were noticeable differences in how we were able to tolerate it by the end of the trip. The more relentless you are with yourself, the faster you will overcome.
Gratitude: I’m so grateful for the life I’ve been able to come home to, and feel so lucky to have had this experience. Not only that, but the whole process of fundraising has opened my eyes to the generosity of others and I really hope that I can give them the same back in the form of warmth and some time at the very least. Not only that, but my increased use of social media to promote the charity and our expedition has put my in touch with old friends and has formed new friends as well. It’s been a truly touching experience. I do sometimes make the mistake of being too introverted and I get stuck inside my own head and I can isolate myself at times (as my close friends know all too well), but this experience, even a month after the actual expedition, has made me open my eyes to how people can be kind, and people can be giving under the right circumstances.
Values: 2019… it’s been a year! It has been a strange one for me. I’ve spoken to some friends recently in that many of the things I had going at the start of the year just haven’t materialised or ended up the way I thought they would have by the end. But as a friend of mine says, ‘it all comes out in the wash,’ and one thing I have learned, is that people’s fundamental values don’t change over the course of a lifetime! I’ve always thought this, but I have proof. These are values at the core of my being, and I’ve come to realise this year how everything I do is shaped, unconsciously so, through an alignment with these values:
Something that I would like to add to that list in time is bravery… I’m working on it.
Meaning: and how do my values and beliefs fit in with the volunteering work you lovely people have sponsored on my behalf? Well:
Another major bonus that has selfishly come to me since fundraising is that my baking seems to have come in demand somewhat… every week up until some time in the New Year I’ve got a cake that needs to be made! It’s be absolutely fantastic and quite literally a dream come true 🥰 Most of my old blog, that I closed down due to inactivity, can be found here, and this blog is an attempt to reignite it. It’s just finding the time to write, format, etc. (and the vulnerability to share meaningful content!), but I enjoyed it so much in the past that I’d like to bring that (along with a few other things) back into my life.
Carrot cake, Terry’s orange cake, chocolate caramel cake, and
Toblerone cake; all made within a month! 🥕🎂🧁🍫😮
As cheesy 🧀 as it sounds cake and food brings people together. Anyone who knows me well knows it a way of showing that I care deeply and a way of inviting them into my personal space. It’s a way to show them I care through sharing.
My next project? I’m not entirely sure right now. I have many ideas and things I’d like to do. But there’s only finite time and existence.
Since I finished my PhD I’ve felt a little lost, lacking ambition, and general structure to life. But I think that’s something that comes with ends and new beginnings. For now, I’m going to focus on finishing the celebration cakes that a few wonderful people have trusted me to commission for them, and then will work on my next move. Perhaps I will start things back up again with the Royal Navy Reserves to get an adventure kick. But I’ve always liked the idea of working in counselling.
I started off by studying psychology at university with ambition to become a clinical psychologist. Things changed ultimately because I know I would struggle with being affected by seeing people’s issues. I am fascinated with individualism and have always taken consolation with indulging in the thoughts of some of the greatest recorded human thinkers of our history and learning all I can about ontology and seeking truth. The motivation for which is on the quest for a deeper understanding and mastery of myself. I’m getting there. It’s been 12 years since I started actively trying to change the way I view the world and it’s been emotional, but very rewarding. I’ve still a long list of things to achieve but sometimes I have to look back to realise that I’ve made some really significant progress and should pat myself on the back for that!
For quite a few years I’ve been meaning to volunteer as a youth support worker. However, around this time I also entered the Royal Navy Reserves and I just didn’t have the time commitment. This is definitely something I’d love to do in the future. Although I feel that in order to support others I need to be in a strong enough emotional place myself in order to do so. So when I have achieved certain milestones in my life, then I’ll go ahead with this. However, I will have to just go for it one day, because the road to self-improvement is an ever-changing path.
Thank you all very, very much for reading, donating, and showing an interest. Below are some photos for perusing at your leisure. I hope this post has conveyed a little sense of the incredible experience you helped to fund and to show where the funds have gone.
If you would like to make a donation, please follow this link here: https://www.vinetrust.org/u/f62fc. And then, I’ll sort you out with some cake 🧁😋 I’ve endeavoured to give everyone who’s donated at least a slice; it’s not much, but I like to thank people and I hope that this conveys at least a fraction of my gratitude 🥰💝
Merry Christmas to all, and all the best for a prosperous 2020 ✨🎄🎁🎅🏽🤶🦌🌰🎉
Thank you everyone for making this a reality ☺️💕
I think most of the photos were taken by me. But some were taken by others and the better quality ones were taken by Kalen 🥰
Left: Our few hours in Edinburgh together for the pre-expedition brief. Right: in Heathrow, where John was so kind to treat us all to a pre-boarding meal! Thank you, John 😌🍣
The Kazunzu worksite
Digging those foundations ⛏️👌
Yes, we flossed on site! Everything is thinking… ‘what is going on?!’ 🤣
The top left tree is known as the Sausage Tree! The top right was a little snake we found in the streets of Sengerema. The bottom two images were taken on our way to the worksite.
This little girl was so enthralled with Patrick’s head 💆♂️🤣
They thought I was taking a photo! 📸🤣
You can see why the Serengeti is also referred to as the Endless Plains…