Monthly Archives: February 2012

Checked in & ready to GO!

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SO !I am OFF!!!! Bags packed, toe nails painted, ipod charged and online check in complete!

All I have to do now is put my bag on my back and head to the train station (via Lewisham again to return a battery charger!)  The only thing I dont have is a battery charger for my camera.

It is time to launch the raffle though so I have to do that in the next 15 minutes.

I have some amazing prizes donated by some amazing people.  

  • Top prize donated by Grange Hotels is a 1 night stay + breakfast in any of their hotels.  They are a top family run chain in London with a number of them being rated 5*
  • The fab Mark Peters has donated his time and skills to cook a glorious meal for the winner at their own home. I kind of want to win this prize myself!
  • Nandos Vouchers
  • Cinema Vouchers
  • For all you rugby fans out there I have a number of prints signed by players:
  • Chris Ashton Englands Try Scoring Machine swallow dive pic signed by the man himself
  • Jason Leonard signed print
  • Gareth Chilcott drawings signed by Gareth and the artist.
  • A basket of cupcakes cooked by Sophie Child (and possibly me!)

There are a few other prints up for grabs but I am looking to auction them more than raffle as they are pretty rare (includes a World Cup Winning Cohen Family print signed by Ben and George)

I may be adding to these prizes soon but wanted to get it launched before I go.

If you want a chance of winning one of these awesome prizes simply CLICK HERE and donate anything from $10 upwards, each $10 spent will get you 1 entry to the prize draw!

For all of you who have already popped a donation in….you have already gained entry to the draw!!

Thanks to you all and I will try and keep you updated from Kenya!!!Image

19 hours to go….

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Tonight I make up for the past few weeks of laziness!   I will be writing not one but two entries today.  Miracle I know!

So I am OFFICIALLY on holiday as of 5pm this evening, I have NEVER been so excited/scared/tired all at the same time! I am pretty certain that I should be doing something other than writing this whilst watching CSI and being on hold to Kenyan Airways! Such as packing, but I think telling all of you what I am up to is more fun!

So I am all ready to go apart from the massive pile of things that I need to pack.  I have my injections, I am taking anti malaria drugs, I have contacted another volunteer who I will be staying with (she’s called Carla, is lovely and super crazy helpful), I have written list after list, sent off form after form, been in constant contact with Kelly from Travellers Worldwide and collected quite a bit of money! (on that note – raffle prizes are in hand – launched TONIGHT)

I have also been sent a little more info on the kind of thing I will actually be doing and the orphanage itself. So here goes….

The place I will be based is the Peace Village & Orphanage in Ukunda, Kenya.  It is a privately run centre so receives no government funding and is wholly funded by well-wishers.  There are around 300 (yes THREE HUNDRED that’s more than my old high school) children there aged between 3 and 16 with about 40 children per class.  Apparently the children take their own pens to class and books.  Tomorrow I am heading to the pound shop(s) in Lewisham to pick up a bunch of stationary, some balloons and some bubbles which, for anyone who has ever worked with small children will know go down a treat!!

I also found out that I will be staying in Ukunda as well, with a lovely little family consisting of Daniel, who works for Travellers, his partner who works at the hospital, his mother and other extended family members!!  So it is going to be a busy house with myself and Carla (and 2 others joining in a week)

I am getting really excited now, after finishing work today it finally hit me that I am going away.  I relaxed and actually thought about the amazing things I will get to see and do.   My amazing friend Sophie Child (who, by the way has donated a prize to the raffle) bought me the Lonely Planet guide to Kenya which has allowed me to actually take in so much more detail about everything as well as look at possible trips for the 1 full weekend I have out there! (I am 100% looking at a trip to Tsevo National Park and possibly even the elephant sanctuary)

But, for now, I have to go and tick off lists and make sure I have everything packed – right now I have an empty bag!!!

Will post again later.

Gems

Aside

Life is seriously passing me by.  I have felt like my brain would explode.  With the amount of things going on both personally and at work today was a bit of a nightmare. It is almost midnight, I have been in the office for 13 hours (out of those 13, 4 were spent hanging out with rugby players so it’s not all bad) and I have to be back in the office at 7am.

So for now I am saying goodnight with a promise of a final update (which is looking like a LONG post) tomorrow.

 

With all these delays you would think I worked for TFL!

Aside

This was going to be a full on update of what is going on in the last few days before my trip as I feel like I have not only been neglecting my friends but my blog as well.

But something has happened which means I can’t actually focus on writing so I will keep this brief.

Countdown is on – 2 full days to go.  CRB check is processing, Travel insurance is sorted (after much stressing and with thanks to the lovely Dan from @staysure), most of my clothes are bought, I have sourced a bag from a friend and the fundraising has gone really well!

And tomorrow will see the launch of the raffle, oh yea…it is FINALLY happening!!! Got an AMAZING prize today to add to the one by Mark Peters and the rugby stuff up for grabs!

So I am sorry I am not updating you properly but my mind is 100% somewhere else tonight and that does not lead to good writing!

Lots of love & thanks for your patience

Gem

“Circumstances may cause interruptions and delays”

“The better part of ones life consists of his [her] friendships”

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Image(This post has been delayed a few more days than planned.  Not out of laziness, or even unwillingness, simply by the fact that life has come and gone far too quickly over the past few weeks.  I was meant to write it on Wednesday, I actually wrote it on Saturday and now I am publishing it on Tuesday!!)

With less than a week to go I am writing this, not from the comfort of my on a break from organising my packing and finalising details.  No, I am writing this on a train, heading to do what I have been neglecting recently, spend some time with friends.  Bad timing?  Possibly, but this is one weekend that I wouldn’t miss for the world.   Yes I still have a lot to prepare and no, I don’t feel at all ready to leave, but as much as this weekend could be used to do all the last minute things that I really need to do, but I am definitely guilty of neglecting my friends recently, and although I presume you all understand the reasons, I am sorry.

It is not that I haven’t wanted to spend time with you all, I have just started to run out of time.  You may have noticed that the grand ideas of a pub quiz and cake sales seem to have vanished.  This isn’t through lack of trying, it is through lack of REAL time to plan and make it work.   Getting injections, buying travel insurance, sorting out my bank stuff, buying summer clothes in February, working 45 hours a week and trying to plan our Kids Church programme has kind of taken over my life.   I only decided I was going on this trip 4 weeks ago and although I am excited I am also a little sad that it is next week.  I almost want another 2-3 weeks to plan and prepare.  I am all about lists and planning!!  But for this weekend (well from 13:13 when my train gets in to Poole until 16:30 when I get back to Waterloo) Kenya and James are not being pushed to the back of my mind, but definitely more to the side so I can concentrate on celebrating with one of the people who fill my life with joy.

Next up – KENYA UPDATE!!!

Just another Tuesday?

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Just another Tuesday?

Today’s post was meant to be about Kenya and the stuff going on behind the scenes but, given the date and the current twist in the roller-coaster that is my life I have decided to postpone that entry until tomorrow at the earliest.

Valentine’s Day

Every year, single or attached I always have issues with Feb 14th.  I think it is a commercial holiday, designed by retailers to combat the post-Christmas/post sales dip in revenue.  When single, I bash it, loudly professing my dislike for the commercialism of it all and the thought that if you need a special day to show someone you love them then why bother with the relationship, all the while secretly hoping that when I get home from work there will be a card and/or a bunch of flowers waiting for me.
When attached, I openly begrudge paying hiked up prices just to have dinner with my boyfriend or how expensive flowers and cards are, but also know that if we didn’t do something special I would feel a little hard done by.

This year I found myself approaching Valentine’s with a weird outlook.  I didn’t quite fall in to either category, neither fully single nor fully attached and this SUCKED!!!  The guy I wanted to spend today with, or at least this evening with, is currently, for all intents and purposes M.I.A.
It turns out that James cut his trip a little short, coming home and not telling anybody.  Now, I don’t know a lot of the details and the ones I do know I am not sure I can talk about without crying my eyes out so I wont.  If I can talk about it to you I will but it is all a bit raw right now.  Let’s just say he is home but not exactly safe and sound, in short he is not currently the James I know and care for.  This makes me pretty bummed out.  I feel pretty helpless, useless and all in all unsure of everything!

He is not talking to anyone, doesn’t want his phone back and has relayed a message that I am far too good for him and he doesn’t deserve me.  (Surely that is my decision right?)  So today felt pretty weird, I can’t message him saying something like ‘Happy Valentine’s day’ because he wont get it (I have vowed, through discussions with friends that 1 email a week will be my only contact until he shows signs of wanting to talk) and I kind of felt flat all day.

That is until I got home…

My adopted big sister in London Nina is off for half term right now, she has had a very productive love filled valentines day!  I walked into the house to be met by the smell of chicken baking in the oven, the front room filled with candles and a table set for 3 – Nina, her husband John and myself, which was decorated in heart confetti.

I then walk into my room and find this:

I felt so loved and cared for I burst into tears!  Nina & John are amazing, amazing people with huge hearts.  I am so so thankful for them and for this little boost to my day! If I can’t be with James then this is definitely the next best thing, being surrounded by people who genuinely care.

So if you have found yourself today feeling a bit low, a little lost with your relationship or simply unloved, just remember, Valentine’s day is not just about boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife, it is for everyone you love and cherish.  If you haven’t done so already tell them you care., it may just be the boost they need.  And with that, I am off to draft my weekly email to tell someone just how much I care so I can send it tomorrow (Wednesday is ‘the day’)

Love and happiness to you all

Gems

Clarification

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This week I have had a bit of backlash over my trip.  So much so that I am writing this entry with tears running down my face. So I am sorry if this is poorly written.

Tonight, I have been told that what I am doing is a huge waste of money and that I obviously just want a free trip to Kenya paid for by other people.  This all came out of an innocent tweet to the guys of  the #rugbyunited community wondering if anyone could donate prizes to the raffle.

I am happy to take on board people’s opinions and yes, there are people to help closer to home and yes it is costing a reasonable amount of money to get out there.  But what is it to them how I spend my own money and if people want to donate, (a number of people do and have, for which I am very, very thankful. full on thank you post coming soon) then great!

You all know that this whole trip has come from a belief in God and a word I received back near Easter.  This isn’t a ‘oooooooooooh I fancy going to Africa, how can I get people to pay for me to go’ kind of thing.  No, this is something I have had on my heart for a while and want to do something about.  If I had no ties in the UK I would quit my job and go out there for an extended period to help as much as I can, even establish my own charity or look into ways of aiding others.  These are both things I want to do in the future and yes, this trip may indeed help that but my primary reason for going is to fulfil something God placed on my heart.

It’s strange because just this evening I was discussing with my Church the idea of being judged and persecuted for your faith.  Now, I don’t mean persecution in the ways of old where you are fed to the lions.  I mean suffering for your faith in a modern way.  Being bullied at school or work for being a Christian, not getting a job because you refuse to work Sunday’s, being left out by your friends because they are doing something you don’t agree with through faith.  During the discussion I could honestly say that I hadn’t found this so  far on my faith journey.  Today I fear that changed.  I feel like anything I say to this person is going to be shot down, I have been told that my Christian attitude is terrible and all I am doing is ‘helping my own soul’.  I have never ever been judged in the way this person judged me today.  To be told they hope I do not need the NHS any time soon is just disgusting, almost hinting at meaning the opposite of what he stated.  I haven’t publicised what has happened in my private life recently but what I will say is I have never been more thankful for the work of the NHS and other emergency services.

So, to clarify and put to rest any doubts that any of you may have… I am not going to Kenya to swan around and maybe do a day in an orphanage to make me feel better.  I am also not doing this to “cleanse my soul” so to speak or even at the detriment of a UK-based charity.  In fact, the only reason I have gone public with this whole trip isn’t to say ‘look at me look how amazing I am’  goodness knows I wouldn’t do that! (why would I need to, I am awesome enough already 😉 ) I wet public to see if I could raise some funds to help me get out there to make a difference to these kids lives.  I do it at home for Kids Church, why not for others?!  I am loving the support that I have got so far.  People are amazing.  Your kind contributions will not only be making an immediate difference to me getting there, they will also help provide much-needed equipment for the kids and care workers alike!

Donating

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hey all,

So there has been a MAJOR increase in site traffic over the last few days which is great.

General feedback seems to be ‘how do I donate?!’  Well, it is really simple…you follow the link below or under the ‘donate now’ tab on the side bar (just under my picture) and you will be taken to the indiegogo website for my project.  It looks like this:

You then click the ‘Contribute now’ button & follow the easy steps! You can pay by card (money comes to me at the end of the campaign) or by paypal (money comes to me instantly) either way you will have made a massive contribution and made my day!!  Just a point of note, all donations are in $ which is frustrating I know but I can’t do anything about it I am afraid!

Also…..I am running the raffle as discussed via twitter a few days back so everyone who donates will get tickets into that.  ‘Cost’ of ticket to be decided soon depending on the prize donations that come in.  It is looking likely that there will be a few #rugbyunited inspired items in there though as well as a home cooked meal, a basket of cupcakes/brownies & possibly even a stay in a 5* hotel!  Even if you donate now before the raffle goes ‘live’ you will still get entry!  How cool is that!?

Love to you all!

Link to IndieGoGo site – http://www.indiegogo.com/Kenyan-Care-Adventure?a=407801

Long overdue!!!

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I genuinly don’t know where to start with this post! It is beyond overdue and I have written draft after draft only to delete and start again!

I have so so so many updates for you all so this MAY be a super duper long post! SORRY!!

The major one is obviously Kenya related….I am all booked onto a flight, have paid all my money to the guys from @TravellersWW who are making it all happen and have started to have my vaccinations!!! Only 2 things left to do….get insurance and RAISE SOME MONEY!!! Oh and send off my CRB forms but that’s a whole different story!

I want to take a few seconds to thank a few amazing people who have already gone above & beyond for me!  Obviously my mummy (yes, I occasionally still call her mummy) who has purchased my flights & insurance as a 25th birthday present, My wonderful friends Sarah Stainthorpe, Emma Warnes & Leanne Iles who have already popped money into the fund.  Sophie Child who has given me idea after idea & been there to keep me going through 3 weeks of fasting! And finally, the guys on twitter who are sharing this blog – @trevorlarge (#Rugbyunited’s founder & all round good guy) @danieljlist (tech savy helper-outer) @swagsy14 (writer of a seriously heartfelt blog) and last but by no means least @chefmarkpeters who has not only spread the love but has donated an exceptional prize for the soon to come auction/raffle.  You guys are amazing and genuinely want to let you know how much your support means to me!

Ok, moving on from the words of thanks…I think I need to share with you some of the reasons that this post has been SO delayed….I meant to do this AGES ago!

Last weekend, I escaped the hustle & bustle of London Living and headed to the Surrey countryside for a church retreat.  Yes, that’s right I am a practising unashamed Christian.  In fact, not just a Christian, a kids church leader.  I am really active in my faith and fully believe in the power of God to make a difference in a situation.  (This is the bit some of you may want to skim read)  Earlier in 2011, at a church conference, I felt God put Africa as a nation into my spirit, it is somewhere I would either end up or end up having a strong connection to.  This just confirmed my own idea that I should be aiming to get involved in charity work and since then I have been applying (unsuccessfully) for events jobs in charities.  I now really feel that this trip is a God thing.  Firstly, without the movement of a ‘higher power’ I would never have the time off work to go out there. Secondly, dates etc have just fallen so perfectly and 3rd and what I feel is the most important, I have taken a HUGE faith step for this trip.  I did not have the funds in my account yesterday when I hit that pay now button!!!  Over last weekend, through some serious prayer & after a couple of very similar prophetic words, I know that God will provide! I have faith in His power and nothing can shake that.

Ok, I think we need some info on EXACTLY what I will be doing out in Kenya.  I got all the forms through from Travellers last week which has all the info on where I will be & what I will be doing which is crazy exciting!!!

I will be based in Diani as you all know, working in the Born Again Orphanage & Peace Village.  Now I have searched & searched online and come up with very little in the way of info but the support pack I have been sent offers this:

In the orphanages we work in, the children are from as young as 2 through to 18 year olds.  

The work we do in Kenya enables you to care for and teach the children. The orphanages we work with are very poor, which is why they are so grateful for help from our volunteers!
The main objective of these projects is to improve the lives of these children in any way possible.

By the sounds of things these kids just need a bit of love & someone who has time to play games etc with them as the staff are all so busy with the day to day running of the place!!  I am so excited about getting out there & being able to give something back to the world.  I am so so blessed with a roof over my head, parents & family who love me, an amazing bunch of friends and a job that pays the bills.  These kids have nothing and it is through no fault of their own.

Back to the fundraising bit

On 01/02/12 I set up an IndieGoGo page to help me raise some money.  Within 7 hours, I had raised $100, right now the total stands at $220, that is 31% of my $700 target which is crazy!!! Obviously I am not there yet but this is just proof (to me anyway) of the power of God to move in my life!!!  If any of you fancy visiting my wonderful campaign please do – http://www.indiegogo.com/Kenyan-Care-Adventure?a=407801

Pub quiz update is to come soon, I am looking at a venue this weekend and am hoping to hold it on teh week of 13th or 20th February in a central London kind of area!

I need your thoughts on the raffle/auction issue – I have one amazing prize donated by Mr Mark Peters who has offered to cook for the winner at their own home, the only thing you would have to do is supply ingredients!  If no-one wants it, I may just get him to cook for me!!! Check out his website for pics….mmmmmmmm.  I am also looking into a possible meet & greet with the quins team after a home game, I have to sweet talk someone but hoping for it to come good.  There is also the possibility of a night at a 5* hotel being donated as well.  Would you guys bid on these things or would raffle tickets be a better option?! – thoughts in the comments section!!!

Ok, that is DEFINITELY enough info for today! I have so much more to tell you all but I don’t want to bore you (and its gone 1am)

Love to you all and if you love this….share it!!!!