Sunday, 4 December 2011

closing thoughts and new beginnings

This blog post has been the hardest one to write yet. How am I supposed to sum up my last three months? What words could possibly do justice to explain my feelings towards Africa and all I have seen and experienced?

It’s one of those things that you can’t quite put to words, every time I think about it I find myself in awe. I have only been away for 13 days and it already seems so surreal.
Since being in Florida I have had time to reflect on these last few months and how crazy they have been. The other day I realized that by this one decision to go on this trip my life has completely changed. Not just for a couple months, or a couple years for that matter. No, this experience has changed my whole life. This has not been just a trip for me, for me it marks the beginning. The beginning of my mission work in third world countries? Yes definitely. But its more than that…it’s the beginning of what I want my life to be devoted to. Helping people. Whether its doing the dishes, to listening to a friend, to going to Africa, every little bit helps.
I realized something while being in Florida. I realized how easy it is to get comfortable in life and how when you get in that comfort zone how it can be so hard to get out of it. deciding to go to Africa instead of University was a scary, uneasy decision. Many times I thought that my life would be so much easier if I just went to university…but one of the most important things that I have learnt is that its not about how easy you can make your life. To challenge yourself, overcome obsticales and get through hard times is what makes a person grow and become an even better person. Because I got out of my comfort zone my life has changed and I have found out what I want to do with my life.
“life is what happens when your sit there making plans.”  Even though I am only 18  I can clearly see that life goes by as fast as a shooting star blazing through the sky. Time does not wait for you to realize that you are alive and that there is so much to see and do…it continues to go by, and every second you waste not making the world a better place, or living life to the fullest is a second wasted. I feel as though sometimes people forget how beautiful life is, which in my opinion is a tragedy in itself. In Africa I met people who literally had nothing…who suffered everyday…and yet they knew what so many people don’t know. They knew that despite how ugly and harsh the world could be there was always still hope and good in this world. Their faith is worth more than anything money could buy.
 If you sit there waiting for life to start its going to slip through your hands. I may just be an idealist but I really believe that if people actually believed in themselves and saw their potential they could do great things. By “great things” I don’t necessarily mean become president or fly to the moon. I believe that every action done with love is great.
I decided to go to Africa to help people…but the reality is that there is people to help everywhere you go. It doesn’t matter where you are…where there are people there is suffering. No matter how small that suffering gives you a chance to help out, and have compassion for another human being. And if you give it a chance you might just find that by giving to others you get back as well.
By the way, I brought back 50 bags for sale to help out Tuleeni orphanage. If you are interested in buying one please let me know! Your contribution no matter how small goes a long way in Africa. Thank you!
“People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”
- mother teresa

I miss and love all my family and friends back home and I will see everyone in a month! Thanks again for everyones amazing support, I am so blessed to have such loving friends and family in my life. God bless you all!

Sunday, 20 November 2011

a perfect ending.

Right now I am in the Amsterdam airport all by myself feeling like I left a part of my heart in Africa. This last week in Africa has been more than I could ever ask for, which makes its all the more hard to leave the people, children and culture that I have fallen in love with. I have so much to tell about this week so brace yourselves!
I don’t even know where to start…maybe I will start with one of the days at my school this week. I bought them a soccer ball and they freaked out…seriously, I got a ridiculous amount of kisses. There was one day at placement that I taught them all about kindness, happiness and love. It was awesome! They got so into it..and I put the rachels challenge idea into play by getting them to make a paper link every time they did something kind for someone else…the goal is to get it around the whole classroom! They were pretty pumped about it. So when we went outside to play…and they were hitting eachother and making each other cry it was super discouraging…so that mixed with the fact that I was leaving and that I cant stand to see my kids cry I started tearing up. As soon as they saw me sad about 5 of them started crying and kept saying sorry and kissing me…then they went looking for flowers and put them on my lap…by the time they stopped I had at least 70 flowers on my lap from my kids.. which of course just made me even more emotional…how was I supposed to leave these kids?
I also went to a new orphanage this week which was unreal. It started by a man named rosman who found a little boy in the streets sick…so he took him like 7 years later he has 45 kids. Him and his wife fund the whole orphanage with the occasional small donation from a local church. The rooms are in extremely rough shape, they don’t even have enough mosquito nets, and they have to squeeze way to many kids into one room…but yet again I was dumbfounded by how happy and carefree the kids were. Not once did they ask me for money or anything…they were just content with my mere presence there. I was so touched by some of the particularly one boy..I was playing soccer with them and I fell and scrapped up my leg pretty bad since we were playing on gravel. As soon as he saw my cut he took his bandana and gently wrapped my leg with it. now I know that doesn’t sound like much but when you have hardly any possessions and clothing it is a big deal. When I tried to give it back to him at the end…he refused and said that I needed it more.
Good news! Living the little boy who had the burns is out of the hospital! I went to his house acouple times to visit him…and hes doing a lot better
The last day of my placement was particularly amazing. We took all the kids on a Safari day trip! They had never seen a giraffe, elephant, zebra..nothing. So they amount of excitement was so high! The whole day was so incredible! The first time they saw a giraffe they were screaming! And when we were leaving they waved at the animals saying “BYE GIRAFFE” it was great! They kids were so thankful and excited. After Safari was when I had to say goodbye.. it was one of the hardest things I have had to do in a long time.
The day I left I was crazy busy. I did Random acts of kindness all over the community! I bought a bunch of rice and handed it out to people and families, it was a good way to say goodbye and they were all very happy and excited.
Next I went to the orphanage that I painted at to drop my clothes off and say goodbye.. It was so sad! They made a bunch of pictures and cards for me…and sang me goodbye songs…I think I had a 3 minute long hug with all the children…as I drove away in the taxi they all stood outside waving furiously. Gotta love them.
As I was leaving a bunch of the kids from the community walked over the my house to say goodbye to me. Brenda…the little girl that’s my neighbour was crying so hard she was sobbing…she refused to let go of me..I don’t think she will ever know how much I care about her.
Ok I am running out of internet at the airport so I need to wrap this up…I will blog one last time about my trip to close everything up! Now I have to focus on getting home in one piece! A lot of plane rides are being cancelled right now due to weather conditions…so figures crossed that I am not one of them!!
to wrap this post up I will just say how sometimes i feel like my last three months have been a dream because of how amazing it has been...but thats often times if you let it or step out of your comfort zone can take your breath away and change you in ways you didn't think possible
Love you all lots!!

Monday, 14 November 2011

Movie moment

From 3 months to 5 days. I am in one of those weird situations in which I feel like I have been here for so long but at the same time I have no idea where my three months in Africa went. Sometimes it all still feels like a dream. So much has happened it feels like it just couldn't have been real. From getting sick, to all those breathtaking moments that I thought only happened in movies..every part of this trip has been so crazy, awesome and mind blowing.

Yesterday I had one of those moments that just make you stop and think about how amazing life can be at times. I went to the orphanage I am doing the bag project at and The kids brought be me to this huge community party. The music was loud enough to hear from 3 blocks away...everyone was dancing and having a good time. There were people this party was huge! The locals taught me different dances...and I taught them salsa! So random. They brought me inside and gave me a drink and talked to me...It was awesome. And the whole reason for this was because in Tanzania it is tradition that when a loved one dies the first death anniversary you have a huge party! and let me tell you...this party was huge! ...They wanted to celebrate his life...and that, that is how the culture here is. So positive, so layed back, so strong.

I have been super busy trying to get everything done before I go…so I actually need to end this blog here. I know so short…sorry.

I will end off on a cute note…the kids at the orphanage I painted wanted me to have a sleepover with them! “Monica, sleep here??” I honestly don’t know what I am going to do when I have to leave them.

Monday, 7 November 2011

12 days and counting

So I finally finished the orphanage!! What a good feeling. 2 months later and I am finally finished, I was starting to think that I wouldn’t finish in time because I leave in 12 days…insane, it feels like I should have another 2 months left…I guess time fly’s when you are doing what you love to do.

Living the boy in the hospital has been doing so much better. He is in a lot less pain and we were able to get him pain medication and special cream that has been helping! It’s so cute, every time I go visit him his face lights up and he gets so excited! I visit him almost every day and I still cannot get over how overwhelmingly sad and poor that hospital is. There is a little baby boy named Richard who was badly burnt on his face and back so we bought him some cream to help with the pain…we checked on him today and his mother told us that he is doing much better and that the cream has been helping a lot. The thing that really broke my heart was this little 9 year old girl fell into the fire and got 3rd degree burns all over her body…my 2 friends who is a nurse and a doctor helped clean her wounds and redo her dressings..and they told me how she was on no serious pain medication and she felt every bit of pain. They had to clean her burns with normal soap because the mom had no money to pay for the kind that was needed and how in North America someone would be put in an induced coma because it is too painful to handle. But somehow through all her pain she managed to say thank you over and over again to my friends for helping her…through her pain and torture she managed to be grateful and smile.

Quick story about class today. So today in class we had an “all about me” lesson. I got them to draw pictures of them and their family, their favorite animal, things they are good at, things they love…and one of the little boys drew under the things they love section me. “Teacher, look…its you!”  I just about died it was so cute.

So the other day I went to a juvenile detention center to volunteer…which was a very interesting experience. They boys were actually so nice and well behaved and almost seemed like I wasn’t in juvi at all. We watched movies, and helped out with their chores and hung out for a while. They have to make their own food…and the government often times forgets to fund them on food…so sometimes they skip meals or don’t get enough but once again I was blown away by these peoples generosity. A boy spoon fed me rice which was their lunch and wouldn’t let us say no to the food. Honestly though hearing these boys stories was really hard. A lot of them were in there for really unfair reasons like running away from school, talking back to an aunt, or even homosexual actions. One of the boys was framed by an uncle and was able to leave but his mom told to warden she did not want him to come home and to let him stay in there.

Ok last thing…I went to church on Sunday and it was a crazy loud music, crazy dancing, passionate preaching, service. Legit, its exactly how you see it in the movies. And I saw some possessed people, or at least that’s what it looked like. They were flailing around and going crazy! One of them was tied up…really wasn’t to sure what to think of it.

Ok, that’s all for now is absolutely crazy that I am coming home so soon! Its going to go by so fast!

Love you all!


Wednesday, 2 November 2011

If you can't feed one thousand people just feed one.

It is extremely hard for me to believe that I  have almost been in Tanzania for 2 and a half months. After all that I have seen and done you would think that things wouldn't have gone by so fast...but sadly it almost feels like I got to Tanzania just yesterday...and now I am leaving in a 3 weeks time. As things slowly start to come to a close..I can already feel the sadness of leaving Africa, but I have decided to just end off on the most positive note I am now busy at work with everything I have started..praying that I get everything done.

The past couple of days have been really hard. On Monday The little boy who had the really had burns got surgery. Now let me try and enlighten you all about how seriously awful the health care is here. Firstly He was scheduled to have his surgery last Thursday but when we took him to the hospital the doctor told us to come back on Sunday...(this was after waiting 6 hours) So we bring him back on Sunday and after waiting almost 7 hours he finally gets admitted into the ward. Now this ward to put it lightly smells like death and pee..its hallways are lined with cots that have people who are so sick they are slowly dying...seriously, the amount of helplessness i felt in that moment crippled me. Poor Living (the boy) might have to stay in that awful place for over a month. I visited him yesterday and he was in so much pain..he is the toughest kid in my class...and as much as he tried to hide it...i saw countless silent tears welling up in his eyes and rolling down his cheek. He attempted a smile and greeting through his pain when I got there but I could tell instantly that he was suffering. My class made a bunch of get well soon cards for him which he really loved...and we brought him a bunch of books and other things...but to see him suffer like that broke something inside of me..We tried to talk to the nurse about getting proper pain medication and she refused...even though he wasn't getting what he needed in the least bit...even when we offered money she refused. Today I am going to visit him again...we are bringing him food, pain medication, and other things to try and help him, Hopefully he is doing better than yesterday..please keep him in your prayers! To lighten the mood...something that really touched me was that before his surgery I gave him a rosary and when i came to visit him all he had one was the rosary.

Ok...I need a story to lighten the mood. Here is something really cool. So A little boy at my placement had no shoes and was trying to walk home...but the ground was so he was crying as he tried to walk home..So i picked him up and carried him all the way home (which is really out of the was from my I got alittle lost) ...So I got to meet his whole family which was cool...but then this little girl named Recho wanted me to walk her I walked her all the way home...and got to meet most of her family! She has 7 siblings! ...Now this family is extremely poor that Recho is unable to pay the school fees to come to school. But without even hesitating Rechos father gave me a soda and crackers..So small to some people...but to a lot of the people in Africa its a big deal...They sat me down and even though we didn't speak the same language I felt a connection between they are able to love someone that was a complete stranger blows my mind. They invited me back on Friday so I will be able to spend more time with the family!

The bag project is taking off...the girls are so excited about it...and I am too! I have seen some of the bags that they have completely made by hand and they look great!

The last couple of weeks I have been really overwhelmed with all the suffering that is going on around me...I am finding it really hard not to let it affect my day to day activities...whats even harder was accepting that I cannot help everyone...but I am learning the hard way that its not about how much you do but how you do it. Maybe i cannot change the world...but at least i can try and change someones world.

Ok thats all the time I have left...I will try and blog again soon to keep you updated on Living

Stay classy~

Monica !

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Well that was unexpected!

So the last few days have been really interesting. This week at placement has been really neat...I have been teaching them all about holidays and traditions that I do back at home. Today I taught them about Christmas and we did a gift exchange. I wrapped up the smallest presents...little candies, small bars of soap, tooth brushes...and they were literally so excited. The kids who got the soap looked as though they were on top of the world. It made me think back to all my christmas' and how much i had received and how I never had a look like that on my face. Its amazing what a 15 cent bar of soap can do for someone.
Also I was asking what they did for Christmas and they got so excited to tell me that sometimes they get new clothes and have special food..and how amazing they thought it all Christmas is coming up I am going to try and keep the lesson my kids showed me in mind. 

Walking home from placement today was interesting...mostly because i got peed on. Yes...a little girl peed on me. I pick her up and walked her all the way home and when i put her down i found this massive wet pee stain on my shirt. The little girl just giggled guiltily and ran away...Gotta love her.

Yesterday on the other hand was a much better walk home...I walk this little boy named Living home almost every day...he is the one with the really bad burns on his legs...I took him to the hospital 2 days ago to meet the doctor because he is finally getting surgery...thank God. Hes going on Sunday to get it done so I will be going with him. keep him in your prayers! Wow...I am getting super side tracked...back to the walk home. So anyways, we are walking home...and his parents passed by in a taxi ...and he started getting really excited. I had no idea why though and i couldn't just ask him because of the language barrier. so we get to the house..and usually his parents or siblings will come outside and say hi and talk to me...but today noone did...and living ran inside with hugging me it was all really odd, and just as i was walking away...his father comes out and asks me to come in the i walk in..and the first thing i see is a little new born baby girl and Livings mothers arms. Turns out she was pregnant and I didn't even know. I was the first one outside of the family to see there little new born baby...and apparently in this culture it is a very big deal who sees the baby first. I felt so honored...I took a bunch of pictures of the family and I am making them a baby book for the little girl..whos name is Janet! It was unreal!!

Also...I got sick again today...which is super annoying ....but I am already feeling better so hopefully I won't be going to Nairobi again :P

Ok I gotta go make a pinata now!

Miss Y'all!


Thursday, 20 October 2011

The Lion King!

Have you ever experienced something that is so beautiful that it literally takes your breath away? That basically sums up my safari. The beauty of the animals and landscapes of the different parks blows my mind…so many times I found myself in awe of how beautiful life is. It’s crazy that something that beautiful exists in the world. Way to go God, you’ve got mad skills!
We saw everything there is to see. Elephants, giraffes, lions, monkeys, antelopes, baboons, pumbas, snakes, zebras, buffalos, flamingos, hippos and tons of other beautiful creatures.  I can’t wait to put my pictures on facebook so people can get an idea of what I saw. The landscape was absolutely beautiful…I felt like I was living in the Lion King movie…speaking about lions. The craziest thing happened…A lion came right up to our car…so close that my guide told me to roll up the window…I could almost pet her…and she went out our car to get some shade and took a little nap. This was after we saw the lion feasting on some sort of animal carcass. We saw lions mating, monkeys, mating, baboons mating…lots and lots of mating. We saw a giraffe outside of the National park just chilling by a tree…and I got pretty darn close to was so awesome..if I had enough room in my suitcase it would have become my new pet.
Our first night we camped out right in a national park…and I am not kidding when I say we literally heard lions roar from our tent. Not to mention elephants and giraffes hanging out extremely close to us. Imagine waking up walking outside and seeing a was like a dream.
Oh and I went on a camel ride, no big deal or anything..but seriously, it was awesome.
The safari reminded me once again how truly amazing life is…and how it’s so easy to forget the beauty and focus and the hard and painful parts of life.
In other news…I went to the hospital yesterday…no it wasn’t for me. I am fine! It was for one of the little boys in my class who has been sick with severe bone tuberculosis since birth…he also has the really bad fungal infection on his head that looks really painful and bothersome…it broke my heart to see him suffer, and on top of all this his father left him and his mom because he was tired of the boy being sick…so now they are left with no money because the mom doesn’t work because she needs to take care of her son. I visited their house the other day and it was so tiny and primitive…she showed me over 70 empty bottles of medicine that the boy has taken…and she was saying that nothing has worked…he gets over 20 shots a week…20! I got stuck like 13 times when I was sick and I hated life..this boy gets 20 and is still so laid back and happy. Sorry for the sad rant…but I think there is a lesson to learn about this little boy. Although he has suffered all his life…he still is one of the most smiley kids in my polite, so well mannered…it goes to show you that the suffering in life can be don’t have to fall into a dark hole..and let your suffering be an excuse for bad actions, you can sometimes conquer it, learn from it, and be a better person once your through it.
Being back at my placement has been amazing, I am teaching my kids about the 5 senses this week, and next week I am teaching them all about different holidays and traditions! I am so excited for that. I’m going to be teaching them about Christmas traditions, easter, birthdays, Halloween and new years! Should be fun!
Update on the Orphanage. We have finished painting 3 rooms and the bathroom area! Now we are working on the 4th and the big safari themed mural in the big room..Its looking pretty awesome!
Ok I have a long day ahead of me so I gotta go! Missing everyone back home, I Hope everything is going great!