Wednesday, October 10, 2012

back to normality

Yet again time has flown by without any entries. Since June this year I spent two months researching in Zambia, learnt some of the challanges of cross-cultural communication while doing so, got attacked by a baboon,  came third in a 20km mountain bike race across the Zambian bush, spent a solid couple of weeks almost permanently attached to a computer while writing my dissertation, managed to finish my dissertation and hand it in, get a job, move (again) and start making some sort of normality (??!) of my life

So. yes. Busy! I've been so blessed in how everything has turned out. While I was writing my dissertation I was informed by a friend about a position at clatterbridge hospital where I previously worked, interviewed and got the position as an oncology dietitian (cancer) for the next 6 months. I'm even allowed to take 6 weeks off while Im away in Australia over Christmas, which was more than could have possibly asked for. I've been working now for 6 weeks I think, as I started the week after my dissertation completed and am now getting into a routine and pattern. I've even been able to ride my bike to work! Its 8.5 miles each way which doesn't realy make any sense to me i'm guessing about 13km maybe. The only reason I know in miles is because google said so! Its actually quite a nice ride, going thrgh the forest and the country roads and lanes. However, with all the dirt tracks and the torrential rain (for england!) that's been hapening last month (floods everywhere) I didn't get to ride quite as much as I would have liked to ensure I didn't arrive to work completely covered in mud!

 Anyway enough for now. I'll have to start filling in all the details of what happened in Zambia in another post. For now here are a couple of pics of my time over there :)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Well. The last month has absolutely flown by with barely a moment to spare it seems. Most of it was spent studying (or stressing) over my final exams at LSHTM, thankfully they went okay with results coming out in a few weeks. I definitely appreciated all the prayers and thouhts that went out internationally during that period.

There has been plenty of blessings and answers to prayer lately, I was able to get a grant from my uni which has covered my flight fees to and from Zambia takin awy some financial pressure. Also after my last exam I was given a call from Clatterbridge hospital and asked to work there again, so I squeezed in 4 days of work over the week before flying here to Lusaka on Friday evening. So I was provided there as well.

Before I left England I was in London during the Jubilee weekend. It was pretty manic so didn't really get involved too much in the city with it, but it was a cool atmosphere everyone all excited. We went to a bbq with some friends of ours who have moved from London and ate 'Lizzy cakes' - cupcakes decorated with british flags.

Friday evening I flew to Zambia from London. My trip down there was a bit interesting. I hadn't had time to pack so packed the morning I left (as I was in Liverpool at the time), then there were train delays and bus delays and I wondered if I would actually make it on time. Thankfully I did, got to uni and picked up the bag that I was taking for them full of lab supplies and took a taxi to the airport. I was blessed with no further problems there and was all checked in quite easily, and met Marie-Laure who is a Belgian girl studying the same degree as me. Incredibly we had managed to buy the same flights to Lusaka independently, so that was nice to travel with someone.

The flight wasn't too bad, very busy though. I can't sleep sitting up so I only had about 30 minutes sleep that night which wasn't too good - made me all dopey when I got to Lusaka. When we arrived in Lusaka it took us almost an hour to get through immigration, so we were almost the last people sorted out even though we weren't last off the plane. There was one line for 'tourists' and 4 lines for other categories, except there wasn't actually any immigration officer in the tourist line! welcome to Africa!! hehe ah well. So we picked up our bags and finally got outside to meet Mum and Dad, who I haven't seen since November.

Dad's welcome to me was 'You're so pale'. Thanks Dad! I realise what England has done to me!! It's nice and warm here in Zambia, much warmer in winter than it is in summer in England so that problem won't take long to rectify!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Did I hear that right?

Studying at one of the leading public health institutions can be an amusing experience at times. There are always topics of discussion that can be a bit odd and if taken completely out of context quite strange.

I was with a group of students sitting at a table in the common room this evening when we were approached by another girl who asked "Are you doing AIDS?". Taken out of context, slightly inappropriate. But given the situation, okay. Alot of group work happens particularly with the epidemiology students where they are all focusing on specific diseases or viruses at particular times of the year. Earlier this year there was an "outbreak" throughout the school involving approximately 200 students. That was an interesting experience, being constantly approached by other students trying to figure out what it was, where it originated from and who was "infected" or not.

Today in one of our classes which was actually on program planning, we ended up on the topic of the importance of hygiene and sanitation. In the UK, 80% of men don't BOTHER to wash their hands even though they have all the necessary resources. Over 40% of the world don't even have access to safe, private or hygienic places to go to the toilet, instead using rivers, bushes, plastic bags and the like. Poor quality water, hygiene and sanitation practices are strongly linked to poor health, mortality and even impaired nutrition.

We came across The Golden Poo Awards in our class and watched one of their previous entries. This is an initiative by PooP Creative and London Short Films Festival to raise awareness on the importance of handwashing and good hygiene in a funny, catchy or "infectious" way. I found it quite funny and thought I would share. If you feel inspired yourself to make your own film, they are currently open for the 2012 submissions which will be used to form part of Global Handwashing Day (October 15th) and World Toilet Day (November 19th).

Enjoy, and don't forget to wash your hands!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter Break

Part way through April already! The last few weeks seem to have flown by and there is now only one week left for me before I need to hit the books and get back to studying and finishing off this masters degree.

We had a three week break at uni which was much welcomed. I headed up to Liverpool and was blessed by a week of sunshine and 16-20 degree days (unheard of for England this time of year!!). Financially I have been close to struggling and was hoping to get some work during the Easter break. Luckily for me, two or three days into my first week off I got a call from one of the dietitians at Clatterbridge Hospital here in the Wirral asking if I was free for two weeks! Such a blessing really and couldn't have come at a better time.

So last week I was back at the Oncology Centre again and met Jennifer the dietitian I was filling in for last year before her permanent position commenced. She is lovely, from Scotland and as I discovered last week also a Christian. Hopefully I will be spending much more time with her in the future as well as I've really enjoyed her company at work. Its been great going back to CCO, alot of the staff remember me and its so much easier when you already know the systems as you can just crack on with what needs to be done and help the team out with their busy workloads.

The next few months coming up will be pretty busy. I've got one term left at uni covering nutrition programme planning, then final exams in the end of May. After that I'll head down to Zambia and Lusaka for my Research project which will be keeping me out of mischief until the beginning of September when the dissertation is due. Lots of writing and sitting down and being boring ahead I'm afraid! Ah well, it will be worth it at the end I am sure!!

I keep being asked what I'm going to do when I've finished the degree, where I'm going to work and all that stuff. Honestly I have no idea. I guess just see where it takes me and what comes across my path. No point stressing or worrying about the future too much. It will work out in its own time and in Gods plan.

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:4-7


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Coincidence or divine protection?

Since moving to London and riding my bike here there and everywhere, I've had a couple of situations where I've thought and wondered about whether something that has ended up delaying me or getting in my way has been a coincidence, or in actual fact a measure of protection.

About a month ago on my morning ride in, a couple of cyclists were taking up the whole road ahead on a big downhill slope about ten minutes away from uni, causing me much frustration (I don't like to go slow if I can avoid it). I managed to overtake them finally, got down the hill, rode up the other hill, and turned around the corner just in time to hear a big bang. At the junction where I would normally be waiting to cross oncoming traffic, two cars had collided. That delay which probably wasn't even 60 seconds long was just enough to protect me.

A similar thing happened to me again last night as I rode back home from uni. I had just ridden up that hill previously mentioned - a much harder task than going down it let me tell you - and as I was approaching the junction on the opposite side it was all green lights. I thought about trying to power it across and decided against it, as it would probably go orange just as I began to cross. So I stood there on the side waiting for a couple of minutes until it was green again and safe to cross. About 10 minutes later, just before approaching Arsenal stadium I arrived at another big junction to see a collision that must have occurred only minutes previously, as police arrived and the ambulance was wailing in the background when I crossed. This collision looked a bit more serious as well, with a double-decker bus and at least 2 other cars involved. Once again I was protected.

Of course it could all very well be just a case of "what if?"  I'm just happy knowing that there is a God on my side who loves me, has got my back and is protecting me even when I'm not aware.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Buildings and M&Ms

 The weather has picked up so so much lately here in England.. crazy to think that only a couple of weeks ago it was snowing, now there it has been a lovely 16 degrees probably every second or third day. So that is very nice! Even compared to last year when I returned to England, it is much much warmer. I keep hearing rumours of drought in England with the warm weather (which makes me laugh a bit).

in London on the weekend so we took full advantage of the sunny weather, got outside and did a bit of exploring around Grenwich and central London. I wanted to go and see the clock or the timeline where the Grenwich mean time thing is, but didn't really want to pay to go and see a line so we decided to skip that idea! Instead we wandered around Grenwich markets and to the Royal Navy college and checked out the beautiful old buildings there.

One of the buildings, the painted hall is absolutely amazing! The entire inside of the building is painted, floor to ceiling and the ceilings on this thing would be like I don't know, maybe 30 foot high! Apparently the man who painted it, would have been paid about 3 pounds per square metre for the ceiling and 1 pound per square metre for the walls. These days it costs about 300,000 pounds to repair the same area!!

There was a chapel there also which was extremely ornamental and beautiful to look at as well. I absolutely love old buildings.  They definitely don't make them like they used to!

During our wanderings around the city we stumbled across one of Londons 'biggest highlights' - the M&M shop...  It is absolutely manic in there. M&Ms everywhere and people running around like crazy as if they are high on the sweet smell of sugar and artificial colours that envelops you when entering the doors. An experience and something to see, and interesting but very VERY expensive. 100g of these babies will set you back over two pounds, making it more expensive than buying lollies (sweets) at the movies..

Which colour would you like to eat?

Plain or peanut?

Even though I've nearly been here for six months in London, I feel that I've barely done anything much as my uni course is pretty time-consuming. So it was nice to get out and explore a bit, see some new sights and areas. Next time I want to get to Borough Markets! :)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The power of youth

I think it is quite easy in today's society to think that we aren't that important and our individual voice doesn't matter, particularly for children and young adults. I came across a nice story recently about a little girl here in England, aged 3 1/2 who'se voice sparked a change across all of Sainsbury's in the UK.

In May 2011 she wrote a letter to Sainsbury's asking why Tiger bread is named after a Tiger when it looks much more than a giraffe and should be called Giraffe bread. Three weeks later she got a letter back from Chris King Sainsbury's Customer Manager aged 27 1/3 saying that it was a great idea. Fast forward a year and add in a bit of social pressure via a group on facebook and petitions to change tiger bread to giraffe bread and what do we have....

 For anyone who doesn't know what tiger or giraffe bread is, it is a typical white bloomer loaf where rice paste has been spread on prior to baking resulting in the splotchy effect as seen here:

Anyway, I found it cute and encouraging - that a 3 year old could spark a change.

Throughout history and the bible there are so many examples of children and young adults having a big impact on society and playing big roles. For example David was a boy when he killed Goliath in the bible, Josiah became King of Judah when he was 8 years old. Charles Haddon Spurgeon was a pastor by the time he was 16! Sixteen!! Then, not only that, but by the time he was 20, his church was also the biggest in England at that time. Vince Havner "the boy preacher" started sending sermons to the newspaper at 9, was a licensed preacher at 12 and was ordained at 15 preaching for 80 years! Billy Graham as 19 when he spoke at his first meeting about what God has done for him, and has since spoken to over 90 million people across the world.

So, nothing is impossible if you don't at least try!
Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.

1 Timothy 4:12 (New Living Translation)