Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Books & Basil...

Here's an update on two of the activities I checked off this week. I suppose it depends on how much my Basil needs to grow before I can check that one off. Maybe until I eat some of it? I've gone ahead and checked it off anyway. 

14. Grow something green (and edible!) (started 30/4/17, 3 sprouts 15/5/17)

18. Read 10 books in 10 months – (12/5/17) 

It’s been fun growing Basil. It’s the first time I’ve grow an herb (besides in primary school I suppose) and I’ve enjoyed watching the sprouts come up. I plan to branch out and grow some coriander and hopefully some rocket (arugula). If only I had a big garden, as opposed to a narrow balcony! This is a step by step learning process.

I’ve also managed to read 10 books in the last 5 months. This is probably a personal record for me! It also means I can check this activity off.  The easiest read of the 10 was the Dutch book, which one could argue is more of a children’s book, but I would like to add that it’s a longer children’s book and it’s not my primary language. Land of Love and Drowning was definitely the strangest of the 10 books. This is the book I read for book club, which I attended in March, which was also on my #bucketlist The book that I found most thought provoking was Half the Sky, which talked a lot about oppression of women, trafficking, lack of education etc. This is also the book that took me the longest to read, in part because some of the stories were pretty intense and I wanted time to process what I was reading. I would highly recommend this book.  The book I found the most inspiring was Dirty Glory, which is a book about the 24-7 prayer movement. I’ve enjoyed reading and am about halfway through book #11, which is The Five Love Languages. Let’s see how many more books I can read before my birthday!

#read10books #growsomethinggreen #basil #40before40 #sandraturns40 #40isthenew30 #bucketlist 

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Sunday snaps...

Over the past year, more and more of Asia's three-wheeled tuk-tuks have made their way to Africa. A year ago I would see the occasional tuk-tuk on Fourah Bay or Kissy Roads but now they are all over Freetown They are safer than the motorcycle taxis (slower and a bit more protected) and since their introduction, accident rates have gone down in Liberia. They also provide employment for youth, which is especially good as more bans were placed on motorcycle taxis (for safety reasons). In Sierraleone they are known as kekeh - I'm looking forward to my first ride in one! #kekeh #sierraleone

Friday, May 05, 2017

Mannequin Challenge in Sierra Leone...

Screen Shot of the Mannequin Challenge video (link below)
Last year, around the same time I was creating my #40before40 list, Jayne introduced me to a video fad known as the Mannequin Challenge. I was intrigued and entertained and thought it would be a great activity to add to my list. So, #33 ended up being: Mannequin Challenge in Sierra Leone.

For those of you who don’t know what this is, it’s basically an internet trend where people remain frozen in action, yes you guessed it, like mannequins, while a moving camera films them, usually with the song “Black Beatles” playing in the background.  So, all we needed was a group of people, a venue, a camera and the song. Simple right?

As a joint activity to celebrate Jayne’s birthday and to complete #33 on my #40before40 list, we planned to create our video at Jayne’s birthday dinner at the New Brookfield Hotel. Jayne came prepared with the song, I had the camera and we had a group of people. However, none of us had done this before. What next? Thankfully, Haja was in the restaurant and had just walked up to our table to congratulate Jayne and overheard us talking about the Challenge. She told us she had done one in the past and so before we knew it, we had Haja directing the Challenge (thanks Haja!) and we all took our places in the restaurant, as customers, waitresses and bartenders and the music began to play. We froze in time while Haja did the filming to create our very own Mannequin Challenge. Some of the hotel guests and the executive director even joined in the Challenge!

Check out our video at:

We had a lot of fun and although this may not be the first Mannequin Challenge in Sierra Leone, it’s definitely the first one at the New Brookfield Hotel and the first one that I was a part of! And, this means that #33 is checked off of the list.

Thanks to the staff of NBH for helping out! 

Social media fast, Binch and Leceister Peak...

Since my last post I’ve made progress on my #40before40 list and completed the following activities:
19. Go 72 hours without social media
23. Learn to cook a Sierra Leonean dish
29. Walk up Leceister peak and have a picnic at the top 
I actually ended up doing two 100 hour social media fasts – one was planned in April and the other one happened after my iphone was stolen in a taxi almost two weeks ago! The first break was good in that it allowed me to focus more on the now and be more present, as well as spend time reading, writing etc. The second break was more frustrating, since it was unplanned and involved a theft!
Learning to cook a Sierra Leonean dish was great fun – we cooked BINCH (beans) with Edna’s help. It was a tasty dish with black eye beans, dried tenne fish, peppe (hot pepper), spring onions, maggi cubes (of course!), oil, tomato paste (also a staple item in these dishes) and onions. Up next, we will try groundnut soup. 
And finally, the walk up Leceister peak plus picnic was a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Haley, Suzanne, Anna and I walked up with our picnic and laid out our food and drinks when we got to the top. We enjoyed each others company, the view, and various treats like cinnamon rolls, girlscout cookies, homemade pickles, sandwiches, fruit, wine and coffee/tea. We had a lovely time together.
Progress is being made on the recipes and books. I’m nearly finished with my online course and have started growing Basil. Stay tuned for news on the boat adventure and the swim to the island off of Bureh! 
The adventure continues…

#40before40 #bucketlist #40isthenew30 #sandraturns40 #alwaysanadventure

Friday, April 14, 2017

100 days to go...

In 100 days it’s my birthday. And it’s not just any birthday. On 23 July, I turn 40! Yes, 40! Yikes. Thankfully they say 40 is the new 30, so I am hoping I will be alright! Anyway, since I have never been keen on birthdays, and 40 sounds particularly daunting, I decided the lead up to this birthday needed to be fun. Feeling inspired by something my friend Haley did when she turned 30, I decided to create a 40 before 40 list last September. Basically, it’s a bucket list that I need to achieve by my 40th birthday. Of course, since I only had 10 months to achieve 40 activities, I had to keep it realistic but also fun and challenging. It's not a surprise that brainstorming with close friends and family, led to a great list.

It goes without saying, that my unemployment has proven very useful in terms of getting things checked off of my 40 before 40 list. Good timing! Some of the activities I achieved so far are going to three museums in Freetown (all on the same day), seeing a sunrise on a hill top in Haiti, filming a mannequin challenge in Freetown, making curtains with lappa using the sewing machine I received from my parents, Stefan and Genae in Seattle, learning to make a Moscow Mule in Seattle, a 10 km walk with my sister in Middelburg and a sleepover with my sister and my nieces in their living room. It’s been really fun that friends and family are so keen to help me check items off of my list. I never thought everyone would be so excited about it. Stay tuned for more stories, photos and an amazing video documenting some of the achievements, but first, let me share the complete #40before40 list with you! 

1.  Visit 1 new country
2.  Drive a vehicle in Sierra Leone for the first time
3.  Wear an Africana headpiece in public (4/11/16 – Jayne’s Wedding, Kent, Sierra Leone)
4.  Visit Outamba Kilimi national park in Kamakwie, Sierra Leone (24-26/2/17)
5.  Attend a book club (21/3/17 – Sierra Leone)
6.  Visit Bumbuna Dam  (10-12/3/17)
7.  Take up blogging again (26/10/16)
8.  Swim to the island off of Bureh beach, Sierra Leone
9.  Successfully take an ETAT plus course (24-25/9/16 – Ola During Children’s Hospital)
10. Successfully complete an online course – in progress
11. Get a massage
12. Make something creative with lappa on my own (27/2/17 – Sierra Leone)
13. Run a race
14. Grow something green (and edible!)
15. Improve a foreign language (conversational) – French – in progress via Duolingo
16. Sponsor a child
17. Try 10 new cooking/baking recipes in 10 months – in progress
18. Read 10 books in 10 months – in progress
19. Go 72 hours without social media
20. Get a manicure and pedicure (1/11/16) at Nali, Freetown, Sierra Leone
21. A 30-day challenge – completing acts of kindness or gratefulness
22. Go to the National Museum, Special Court Museum, Train Museum in Sierra Leone (5/12/16)
23. Learn to cook a Sierra Leonean dish
24. Visit Bonthe island, Sierra Leone
25. Visit Haiti again but this time go see where my parents live (9-23/12/16)
26. Picnic at Baw baw (22/10/16), Mama beach (30/10/16), John Obey, Black Johnson beaches, Sierra Leone
27. Walk down Lumley beach making a fashion statement
28. Visit Bomba ice cream factory and discuss new flavours
29. Walk up Leceister peak and have a picnic at the top
30. Swing in a Color Cloud hammock in Sierra Leone (a friend’s enterprise) – hammock purchased 12/16
31. Buy a teapot for myself (5/1/17 – De Efteling, The Netherlands)
32. Attend one ‘Insanity’ exercise session or Aerobics session (25/11/16 – Sierra Leone)
33. Mannequin challenge in Sierra Leone (24/3/17 – New Brookfields Hotel, Sierra Leone)
34. Sleepover with my sister and nieces in their living room (13/1/17 – the Netherlands)
35. Write a short story or a poem
36. Watch the sunrise from a hill top (23/12/16 – Haiti)
37. Walk 10 km with my sister (13/1/17 – the Netherlands)
38. Make Cocktails (multiple times - USA, Sierra Leone)
39. Take a photography lesson
40. Go on a boat adventure along the Western Area peninsula (attempt 27/11/16)

✔ means the activity has been accomplished!!

#40before40 #bucketlist #40isthenew30 #sandraturns40 #alwaysanadventure

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

It's time to start blogging again...

It’s been 535 days since I blogged. Surprisingly the longer the gap, the harder it is to start, so I will begin by telling you about two major life events have taken place since I last wrote.

The first is the end of the Ebola outbreak, which was declared in November 2015. What a relief and great celebration that was! The Ebola outbreak greatly affected Sierra Leone – every sector and every person in the country was affected in one way or another. For me personally, as I wrote two years ago, Ebola became a part of daily life and it was a matter of persevering to the end.

“It seems as if an hour doesn't go by without Ebola being a part of it. Whether it is during a conversation, work at the hospital, a radio programme, an advertisement, a bucket of chlorinated bleach outside a restaurant, an ambulance with driver in a protective suit that drives by, the constant thought of not touching one's face, no personal contact, a billboard etc. Ebola has become entwined with daily life. Strangely though, when driving through Freetown things still feel fairly normal. It's a bizarre situation.” 

The battle was eventually won but sadly many lives were lost and we continue to remember those who succumbed to the disease as we rebuild what was destroyed and build it back better.

The second event is my resignation in June and my final day of work as Country Director for Welbodi Partnership mid-August 2016. After spending 6 years with this great organization it was time to step down from this particular role. I loved the technical/health programming/clinical improvements side of my work but felt that more and more of my time was being taken up by the operational/organizational/management aspects such as financing, human resources, procurement and line managing. It was too hard (and impossible) to do all of that well (and in reality, two different roles anyway), and so I decided that in order to continue with what I am most passionate about I would need to resign. This is one of the biggest decisions I have ever made but possibly the best. So, I am currently unemployed – which is both great and strange at the same time – and in transition mode - I just don’t know what I am transitioning into yet! Ideally, I find another job in Sierra Leone where I can use my skills to improve maternal and child health. It may or may not include some clinical work, but I would hope it would include things like quality improvement, health programming, capacity building of healthcare workers, guideline development, supporting Ministry of Health plans, etc. (i.e. a technical focus on child health as opposed to an operational/organizational focus, if that makes sense). I am waiting for the right opportunity to present itself and in the meantime I am enjoying this transition period after a pretty intense work pattern.

This is a quick catch up for now and I will be back very soon with stories, thoughts, photos and more.

~ Act Justly. Love Mercy. Walk Humbly. micah 6:8 ~