Sunday, 30 September 2012

And now, the end is here...

So, it's officially (the end of) my last day in the Dominican Republic. Whaaaaat? Where did the time go?

I have loved this marvelous, crazy adventure, I really have. I've met some amazing people, and I've seen so much; some of it beautiful, some of it heartbreaking. It's been hard at times. Being 5000 miles away from everyone you know and love can sometimes really suck... but Pauline, and the Project Isobel team, have been amazing throughout at helping me to feel at home and making this experience memorable.

I'm pretty sure I've caught the travel bug. I want to see more of this insane planet.

I'll never forget this time, and I know that it's changed me. Not in a personality-transplant sense, I mean, I'm still me. 

I'm still prone to long bouts of sarcasm in the face of stupidity, and as likely to go off into my own world inside my head as ever. I will still geek out at really random stuff, and I'm pretty likely to paint my nails according to the season, or themed to the last film I loved. There's no doubt that I'll still get lost in books (and films, and TV series) and I'll probably still get scared going into new situations, and be quiet until I feel comfortable.

I still love my God.
I'm still figuring out this life business.
I will still drink too much tea.

I'll be my parent's daughter, and my brother's sister. I'll still be Lauren.

But hopefully this adventure has gifted me with a little more maturity, has taught me to be a bit more courageous in unfamiliar situations.

I'm sure I'll be more independent when I get home, and I know that my perspective on the world has changed -- simply due to the exposure I've had to the way that people in poverty have to live their lives.
It would be nice to think I'll be a bit wiser, and not as naive.

I know that my heart's been opened up to other people more, that I can acknowledge and understand that being 'soft' doesn't make you weak. I have more empathy for people in need.

I'll be starting the next part of my life with a fresh appreciation for exactly how privileged I am, and I can only pray that I'll remain as grateful for everything I have in the future as I am now.

Because seriously, being welcomed into somebody's home, when they have so little but still call themselves blessed -- it's truly humbling. I am so thankful to God for everything that He's given me, and that He's kept me safe, and kept listening, the whole time I've been here.

And I wish I could show you all, for you to experience it too, but I can't, so I'll just tell you and hope you'll listen. And I hope that there'll always be someone there to remind me too.

Instead, I'll insert some pretty pictures of this beautiful island to break up all of the words. I know you guys like that.

There you have 'em.

I know now, even if I'm a little hazy on the details still, that I want to go on and continue making some small difference.

That I want my part in life to be an active role in improving our world; I want to go to University, and gain the knowledge and skills I need to be useful, to have the necessary qualifications to make an impact, to be a voice for those that aren't in a position to speak up for themselves.

I don't quite know the how yet, but I do know the why. And I have a feeling that might be more important.

I'll probably go on for a while to everyone I come across about my time here, and if you happen to be one of those people, and I start to rant -- Well, I apologise in advance. I have a feeling that I'll have to learn how to hold my tongue a little too, not to be too harsh on people that whine about problems that seem petty.

But honestly, if I hear someone complain that their life is unfair because they don't have the latest phone or something, I won't feel any guilt at all in telling them to shut up. And possibly whacking them (gently) across the back of the head. Not. Even. Scared.


So, yeah.

On to the next adventure!
Thank you for coming along with me on it all. I hope you've enjoyed my largely random and rarely coherent ramblings, and that they might have even made you stop and think for a minute or two.

Or, you know, maybe you wanted to share some of the love and donate to
Go for it.

Friday, 14 September 2012

In which I empty a little bit of my brain onto a webpage.

If you are reading this, it means I actually decided to go ahead and publish this, and hold my breath for the reaction.


Social Justice. Equality for all yo'. Not exactly a new concept is it?
28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Galatians 3:28
It's definitely not new, it's biblical.  But it's something that the world, as a whole is failing at. And when I say failing, I mean, failing. 

As a Brit, by default, I'm in the top 5% of the worlds wealthiest people. The Dominican Republic is officially a 'middle income' country. But there are thousands of children (and adults)  that don't have access to any sort of quality medical care, and the free public hospitals are overflowing, resulting in a lack of proper treatment for those that get in. To be honest, they don't really have access to much of anything. I wouldn't call a tin shack a home.

Haiti, the Dominican's next door neighbour, is far worse off. And there are hundreds of other countries where people's living conditions are even worse.

And it sucks.

It's totally unfair. Horrible. Makes me want to scream and rage and shake my fists.

But that wouldn't help anyone.

And even if I spent my entire life campaigning, and fundraising, and I don't know... digging flipping latrines; It won't change the world. I'm not naive.

It would be incredibly easy to wave it all off sometimes. To say 'I give up, there's nothing I can do about it.'

But then, that would be going against every single one of my core beliefs. I might not change the whole world, but I think it would be a pretty good thing to at least try. Because I could alter someone's world. I could make a difference.

And I wouldn't be on my own. I couldn't do it at all on my own.

 I need God. I'm lucky that I have God.

And I'm not going to deny that over these last few months I haven't had some angry conversations with the man Himself, where I've whined at him like a petulant child. 'It's not fair! Why are there so many people like this? Why do some get help and others don't? What's the point? Why, why, why?'

And do you know, the only answer I've got back is; 'What are you going to do about it?'

That one stopped me in my tracks.

Because really, at the end of the day, it's the Human condition that's the issue here. Nation against Nation, man against man (and I mean that in the gender-encompassing sense of the word, I'm not being sexist here). People are constantly trying to one-up each other, to get ahead, to get better. And you can bet that they don't care who they have to step over to achieve it. Which then, in the long term, translates into countries unable to support themselves, lands full of starving people, and shored up with debts that they'll never feasibly repay.

It's an issue. And in unrelated news, I'll soon be going up for the understatement of the year award.

I'm not entirely sure where this post is going right now. It's currently a long winded ramble. It will probably remain a long winded ramble, even after I've edited it all. I apologise (Sort of. But not really.)

I could quote a load of largely unrelated stuff at you all that I've found out over the years, through spending far too much time reading newspapers and following links on the internet until I end up lost on Google Scholar. But I don't think that's entirely necessary, and it's a blog post you want to read, not a dissertation -- and me pretending to know anything about anything is just silly. And would probably be embarrassing too.

Anyway, I'm just writing down what I think, and trying to be honest about it.

Poverty sucks.

I remember the 'Make Poverty History' campaign, and going down to London to watch the concert in Hyde Park. It was 2005, so I would have been eleven. I was young enough to think that it would work.

It didn't quite work out. But it did make a difference. And I think, realistically, that's all we can hope for.

To make a difference.

To let this generation of people; the most privileged lot of all our predecessors, stop and look around ourselves once in a while. To realise that we actually hold the power within ourselves to change someone's life. It's simultaneously so little and so much to ask of somebody. But we can do it. You can do it. I can do it.

And if you don't think you can, ask God. He's always willing to lend a hand.

Just think about it. That's all I can reasonably ask.

So, that's me done.

And as ever, I send my love and prayers your way, whoever you happen to be, if you've managed to make it to the end of this post. Remember to check out Project Isobel , and I'll update you all soon on how the fundraiser goes. And keep in touch! Feedback (even negative stuff, I can take it) is equivalent to an internet hug.  Which is always good.



Thursday, 6 September 2012

Santiago and Swimming

So, I thought I'd update you all on the highlights of what I've been up to this past week or so. (I think it's a week anyway, these things blur in my mind so easily)

Anywho, Thursday the 30th we took a trip to Santiago, a fairly big city about an hour and a half away through the mountains.

The mountains are gorgeous, and covered in a whole load of lush greenery, but mountain roads are scary.

In a lot of places the road had been washed/broken away through various tropical storms and hurricanes over the years, and they're often steep, and close to the edge. (especially on the way back through - passenger side was to the edge, and on occasion I'd look over, and say hello to my imminent death. Which, as it turns out, wasn't so imminent as I'm still sitting here writing this.)

Throughout these mountain roads are small communities; tin and concrete houses painted with bright colours, a tiny colmado supplying the people that live there, and usually something interesting to spot like, say, a pigs head hung out to dry.

Which reminds me, (Although I'm not entirely sure how my thought process works. Irrelevant.) Black coffee with cinnamon and sugar from a roadside cafe? (and in general) Amazing.

So, after a long drive we arrived in Santiago, and went shopping for dormitory storage, and general supplies for the Project. It was nice to see another side to the D.R. And obviously I forgot my camera. But picture a crazy, chaotic city and you're halfway there.

The next few days passed quickly, looking after Ranciel, assembling the dormitory storage -- a more stressful experience than anything ever needs to be. Easy assembly is a big fat lie -- doing my thing around the project and trying not to kill off all the plants in the vegetable garden. You know, the usual.

Oh, and attempting to write a personal statement now that I've got my A-Level results. This actually largely consisted of me writing ridiculous stuff on a bullet pointed list, and altering song lyrics as I worked.

(One of my favourites had to be 'I am chosen, I am free, I'm gon'get me a good degree...' and of course 'Hey, I just met you, this is crazy, but here's my key skills, let me in maybe?' and there are so many more from where that came from it's actually a little pathetic. But hey, I had fun. Don't judge.)

Moving on.

On Sunday we all took a trip to the river to do some swimming, which was loads of fun, and another new experience to add to my list of new experiences. The water was beautiful, and I was only slightly put off by all of the potential nasties that could be in the water, and the tadpoles on the rocks. We had to wade downstream a little to get to a quiet bathing spot, and I brought my feet into new worlds of pain walking across the river bed.

This was the busy bit of the river, where we parked up. And the only picture I took, because water and cameras  don't mix. 
Yup. Above is my lone photograph before I buried the camera in the bowels of the car, and we took off downstream to find a nice quiet spot. So, yeah, we all had a great time. Pauline, Wellington, Sandi, Gabrielle (our neighbour), Ranciel and I...

Rani had so much fun. He absolutely adores the water, and it was great to see him attempt to doggy paddle.


I think that's about it for now. I can't think of anything else that dazzles me for being of particular interest for you all, unless you want to hear about the accounts this afternoon.


I'll tell you about lunch today instead; Stewed beef and carrots, rice, avocado and cabbage salad with a fresh coconut to drink from. Very Dominican.

Also, there's a fundraiser on the 16th at the project, in case any of you are reading from the D.R, so come along to that!

And I officially turn another year older on the 10th. I think I'm getting wrinkles. I already nap like an old lady.

Right. Thassit. Hope you all enjoyed the update - please keep Project Isobel in your prayers, and maybe even me as a footnote or something.


Saturday, 25 August 2012

Rani: An Update

So, Rani is doing really well everyone.

He's got some serious style too.

His appetite seems to be increasing by the day, and he downs his vitamins and anti-parasitic medicines like a champ.

He's learnt the actions for all of the English nursery rhymes I can dredge up from my memory, and babbles away endlessly - His language skills are very behind for a three year old, but he seems to be picking up new words every day, which is brilliant. He says hiya and bye-bye to everyone he meets now.

He's being lavished in attention, and absolutely loving it.

When he's being naughty and he knows it, he'll turn around and blow you a kiss and give you an adoring smile. It doesn't work (-most of the time, but sometimes you can't help but laugh)

He's smack bang in the middle of toilet training, and I can safely say that I've never had to clean up more of that delightful stuff ever in my life.

Someone has recently donated a bike, which he absolutely adores, even if he can't quite reach the pedals.

He also took quite an interest in the wax crayons and felt tip pens, and expressed this by drawing all over the walls and floor. (They are now on an out of reach shelf, and used only under careful supervision)

I'm learning an awful lot about cleaning up various substances at the minute.

I think his favourite place is the shower, because he doesn't stop grinning and laughing when he's in there. It's just catching him fast enough once he's out of there to put some clothes on him, otherwise there's a slippery naked baby dancing around the dorm .

But he's been here for nearly two weeks, and the progress he's made has been absolutely astounding.

And it breaks my heart to know that he's eventually going to have to go home.

Back to an overcrowded shack.

Back to poor nutrition and not enough food to go around.

Back to a mother whose time is stretched so thinly between 9 children and a job in the evening that she can't pay him the attention he needs.

Back to poor medical care.

Back to no running water, no real sanitation, a rudimentary at best education.

Back to no chances.

I don't want to insult his family in anyway, because I know for a fact that Rani is loved at home, and his parents do the very best that they can for him and his siblings with what little they have.

They did not ask to be living the way they do. They tried their best.

And they did not intend to have as many children as they do.

Contraception did not work; probably a combination of substandard supplies, and a lack of education on its proper use.

And the sterilisation that Rani's mother had failed, resulting in Rani and his older sister.

So it's not through lack of trying, please, please know that.

I really want to emphasise that his mother loves him, and wants what's best for him, as anyone who loves a child can empathise with.

His mother loves him, and she'd love for him to stay here and be raised under the loving care of the project.

To be afforded the care and attention he needs, to be raised in a supportive and educational environment where all of his requirements are met.

To wear clothes that fit him, and to be given shoes as he grows.

To never go hungry.

To be surrounded by gardens and play equipment, to learn about animals and their care. To have a chance at a real education.

To be given a better future.

Project Isobel would be willing to provide this, to be Rani's guardians until he can make his own way in life, and supporting him, and other boys like him (because his is sadly not a unique situation here), through that too.

He just needs sponsorship.

Regular investors in the life of a little boy, expanding his world and altering his future. Breaking the cycle of poverty. Changing his life.

Could you make that difference?

If you think you could help visit Project Isobel, and add your support.

Happy Rani and I.
 Also, I am not that pale.

Please remember to keep the Project, and Ranciel,  in your prayers, and stay in touch! I love to hear from you all, whether in the comments or via email, and it's great to hear what you think.

And don't be afraid to get in contact with the project, just visit the website and start talking!

Love always,



Tuesday, 14 August 2012

In which we go out to deliver school supplies, and come home with a toddler.

So, yesterday we went out to deliver some of the 20 packages of school supplies for children that we have to two of the families that the project is connected with.

The first stop went smoothly, after we'd bolted in from the (torrential, always torrential) rain. The two boys were excited by all of their new school stuff, and started testing out out right away. We got hugs, and kisses, and they proudly showed off their last report cards.

Their favourite things were the felt tips.

We stayed and chatted for a while, then moved on to the next, much larger, and even poorer family, which is where we met Ranciel.

Well, I met Ranciel, Pauline re-visited him and his family.

And this is him;

He's so flippin' cute.

He is three years old. And currently attempting to eat the keyboard.

He's had a testicular hernia for two of those three years of his life, and desperately needs an operation to have it fixed.

The operation is free, but Ranciel was turned away as he is too severely undernourished for the operation to be safe for him to undergo.

Which is where we step in.

Ranciel will be under our care for one month, where he'll receive vitamin and anti-parasitic treatments, and nourishing meals. He'll be lavished in attention and exposed to toys, games, and wildlife that he'\d never get to experience at home.

This is Ranciel's home:

It has two rooms, gaps in the outer walls, no running water and no real toilet.

He shares it with his Mother, occasionally his Father, and 5 of his 7 older siblings.

Trust me, it's grim.

I'm not really a weepy person, but I had to hide my tears when we walked into that shack.

We only went to deliver school supplies to his older siblings, and came home with Ranciel. He's an absolutely gorgeous little boy, affectionate, smiley and inquisitive. He absolutely loves to be cuddled, he finds showering a hilarious experience and he's fascinated by the animals.

He's a bit wobbly on his feet, and he struggles with his co-ordination a little. On one hand he never developed a little finger- we think due to poor nutrition in the womb and lack of proper pre-natal care- and on the other he has a little finger, but it doesn't have a tip, and it doesn't bend.

He's been here for a night already, and this morning we took him to get some shoes, underwear and clothes, because all he had when we arrived was a couple of dungarees, jeans that are a few sizes too big, and three t-shirts, no pants, no shoes, no toys.

That's it.

That's all his Mum had to send him with, packing up his belongings and thanking us, and God, the entire time. It was clear that she loves all of her children, but she simply does not have the means to support them. I was told that a lot of the time, the children are all crying with hunger, and she just doesn't have anything to give to them.

Heartbreaking isn't it?

Could you help the Project support Ranciel for a month? If so, visit Project Isobel to donate towards his care and make a world of difference in this little boy's life.


Love and Prayers,


Monday, 6 August 2012

This post starts with an Abba quote. You've been warned.

You know the Abba song? The one that goes;
‘Money Money Money, must be funny, in the rich mans world’

(And if that song is now playing on a loop in your head, well, I apologise. Or not - depends upon how much you like Abba)

Anyway, I can sincerely assure you that if it’s funny in a rich mans world, then the air distorts and the humour vanishes from the room in a poor man’s.

Look. I know money is tight everywhere. Before I came here I’d spent eighty percent of my time inside my car thinking about how much the time inside my car was costing me.

But, hey, I have a car. First world problems written all over that one.  

This has a point, I promise. I'm getting to it right now.


Project Isobel is currently operating as a drop in centre for local youth and children.

To give you an idea about what some of this involves:

The opportunity to play games, work with the animals, go on the computer, watch TV, play basketball,  and get fed a balanced meal.

It costs around 2 pounds per person to do so, accounting for the cost of food, gas, electricity and petrol to provide all of the stuff, as well as delivering clothing, school supplies and food packages as part of the Project's outreach.

You may have been observant enough to notice all of those teeny, tiny hidden costs that mount up to something monstrous when you’re not being careful (and when you are).
So, say 10 kids, at 2 pounds per day… multiply x by the square root of y and take a sharp right at the cosine of pi and you get to somewhere in the region of twenty pounds. Just to supply a meal.

That was not real maths. But the answer is correct.

A day.

And then, without the great food fund (which I named myself, by the way) there are the running costs of the project itself.

I mentioned gas and electricity didn’t I? What about running water? And maybe maintenance of furniture and walls and cars that have a nasty knack of breaking down at the most inopportune moments and costing a whole lot of money.

What about when one of the animals falls sick?

To put it bluntly, at the moment, there’s a whole lot of money coming out of this charity, and an awful lot less going in.

Project Isobel has a website here. And if I handily set that link for you all to go straight through to the support page, it is purely to economise your time efficiently.

But please, feel free to stay a while there and explore the project from the comfort of your screen. 
And maybe, just maybe, if you look at your costs and shave something like an overpriced coffee off your list of daily necessities for just one day a week, you could possibly spare a few pounds to give over at the Project Isobel Paypal. (click the yellow donate button on the site)

Or possibly, quite possibly, you figure you wouldn’t even notice it much if you set up a standing order and twenty pounds of yours flew off to do some good before you even registered it was in your account.

And feasibly, entirely feasibly, you might want to use one of the email addresses provided on the site (or maybe email, tweet at, comment on, or direct a smoke signal towards me) and ask how you can get involved, and make a difference in the lives of street kids and abused animals.

Here I would like to take a moment to provide a few hints, tips and ideas. And yeah, I'm using a bullet pointed list. It's aesthetically pleasing.

  • Get in touch.
I know I just wrote about it, but it needs emphasising. Even if it's just to send a word of encouragement about the Project's work. Some of the time (all of the time) that's priceless.
Also, getting in touch enables what the Project needs, and what you can offer it, to be personally matched. Kind of like internet dating, but with less creeps.

  • Share it
Maybe you are just a really excellent networker, and have a bazillion and eight Facebook friends. Sharing links and the like for the project helps to raise awareness - and raising awareness raises the charity's profile, which may lead to raising the charity's donations, which definitely leads to raising the impact that the Project can make on the lives of the children.

I think I've got about 8 different ways to share at the bottom of this post, and along the sidebar too. There's the recommend to StumbleUpon badge, which will connect totally random people to this blog (speaking of which, I have a Russian following, which is amazing)

And then there's the +1 button, which recommends this site on Google, or the share on Facebook option, or the 'email this' (it looks like an envelope) or the 'tweet this', or 'blog it'... you get the picture. 

  • Dig deep
I know for many of you reading this it's a struggle to afford yourself, let alone support a charity.
But please, please, consider it.

Consider how much you can justifiably spare.

A one off donation of a fiver? Brilliant.

A pledge of ten pounds a month for a year? Wonderful.

Whatever it is, to shamelessly lift a catchphrase from a well known Supermarket chain, every little helps. It really does. It eases the immense financial pressure on the Project just a little, and helps it to continue doing it's amazing work, one day at a time.

And that's you, that's your money, your generosity, making a difference in somebodys life.

I think it's pretty amazing that we have that chance, that we can do that for a child.

Don't you?

  • Do Something
Everyone can do something. Maybe you're feeling inspired and want to do something creative, flog it, and donate the profits. Into graphics? Design a T-Shirt or a Hoodie or something, and sell it to everyone you come across that needs clothing. I'll be first in line.

Or maybe you're a party lover, or a foodie. Perhaps you could organise a dinner/tea party and charge for entry, and, er, donate the profits.

You might have a blog or a Tumblr of your own. Why not try linking to it, and helping to increase the site's traffic?

Prayer support is always vital. I, and the Project, serve the Creator of the Universe, and I fully believe that prayer changes things. It brings about breakthroughs, and the Project needs a breakthrough. And it's free.

I know that I have a highly talented and dazzlingly beautiful readership of this thing, with an astounding pool of varied talents and skills that are just waiting to be utilised and honed, brimming full of more ideas than I could ever come up with.

Give it a go.

 I'll update again soon with what I've been up to, but for now I think this is enough. If this post has made even one of you consider any of the options handily listed above, then I will be so thankful. Honestly, whatever you do really will change things over here.

Thanks for sticking with it.

All my love, and a whole load of God's blessings being sent your way.


Monday, 30 July 2012

Bunting, and other assorted events.

You may have guessed from the post title that this one's a little bit about bunting.

More to the point, about a craft/activity afternoon I led with a group of local children where we all made bunting.

And paper moustaches on sticks, but that comes later.

As does the bunting I'm afraid. For now I'll have to leave you hanging like the paper flags on the wall. (Geddit? No? Okay.)

I'll attempt to stop writing like such a twerp now, and move on to something more serious and hopefully semi-coherent.

But before any of that, a picture of the Project's ducklings to put you all in a pleasant frame of mind:


My time so far in the Dominican Republic (a whole month already) has already taught me a lot.

Not so much about 'me' - although that one is being muddled through too, and a key lesson there is about the use of the pronoun;

*deep breath*

It shouldn't be about 'me' at all - society's built on the mindset of 'me' and 'what can I get?' and 'what's in it for me?' or 'why should I?' and in my humble, sorely uneducated and unauthoritative opinion that's where a lot of the worlds problems lie... we're all too bothered about ourselves and what we can gain, often at the expense of others.

And if we maybe started looking outwards even just a little bit more, and treating others in the way that we think we deserve, then perhaps there wouldn't be such a great imbalance between the rich and the poor, the child that gets an education and the child that has to beg on the street, the woman that fears the birth of a child could kill her and the woman in the private suite complete with jacuzzi bath and classical music.

But, don't take my word for it obviously. Take God's.
They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.
1 Timothy 18-19 (ESV)
Now, I know that many of you will be reading this and will have inwardly cringed at the mention of God, and the whole quoting-the-bible-at-you deal. But honestly, cross my heart and hope to die, stick a needle in my eye (please don't) a relationship with God; a free forever, open, unlimited data streaming, and no loss of signal contact ever, contract with Him?

Best. Thing. Ever.

It doesn't matter who you are or what you've done up until this point in your life. In fact, that's what has shaped you and made you, and God loves every ugly, shameful, keep it in the dark and don't feed it after midnight part of you... but if you open up to Him and let Him do his thing in your life, you get a new start and a chance to be the person you've always dreamed of, with a whole heavenly support team behind you all the way, screaming and yelling and fist pumping for you to keep going, cheering every time you do something different, a little bit less about you and more about others, and fully prepared to give you a spiritual hug and a whispered 'we'll do it better next time, together' when you don't quite reach the mark.

Because the Three-In-One-in-You is infinitely better than having to go it alone.

And the Three-In-One-in-Me, I can assure you, is exponentially better than me, myself and I.

I'll stop writing in never ending run-on sentences and confusing combinations now, and get back on topic.

And for a second, I'd appreciate it if you removed your view from whatever screen you're reading from, and took a look around you.


Does your view look anything like this?

Now, it's not a great picture, but it's enough to get an idea. Corrugated iron sheets,  wooden boards and breeze blocks cobbled together to resemble a house. This isn't a rare thing over here. Last week, we went to visit a woman named Yolanda, who had just given birth to her second son, Justin. We went to donate some clothes for her older son, and some that she could sell on (she sells second hand clothes to make a living), and to check on how she's doing after giving birth again.

Her Caesarean isn't healing properly, and she's at risk of a serious infection if it carries on as it is. They think the six week old baby has some kind of parasite in his digestive system.

There's no such thing as the NHS here. Good healthcare is expensive, and the public hospitals are often rudimentary at best. Yolanda and her two children live in a 2 Bedroom wooden shack which she shares with her Mother. They still cook over an open fire in a tin bucket inside, and live in an overcrowded area which is currently doubling as an insecure building site.

And yet Yolanda is bubbly, and generous, and so grateful for what she has got. Her two sons are absolutely beautiful, she was kind, hospitable and so happy to see us.

I don't know about you, but it made me think.

Yolanda with Gabriel, and me, hogging the baby.
 Yolanda and her family aren't a rare case. There are situations like this on practically every corner, and there are children here that aren't lucky enough to have a parent who can care for them at all.

The Project has the facility to take these kids in, and give them a loving, safe, supportive home, but it doesn't have the regular sponsorship to take them in on a permanent basis. And that's just... naff.

So anyway, that's just an example of how this experience is opening my eyes, and showing how much exactly I have to appreciate, and teaching me how much I have to give.

Relying on the premise that there are still people reading the post at this point, I'll move on to the aforemtioned bunting extravagansa now.

I am an ardent advocate of bunting and it's ability to make things look pretty - as well as being easy to make- so naturally I decided that it was the best activity to do with children who have never really had the chance to mess around with arts and crafts... it's just not something that's on the agenda here.

However, and luckily (?) for all involved, making stuff is always pretty high on my list of things to-do, especially things to-do with kids when there's too much garden for them to dissappear into during hide and seek.

When the kids were first introduced to the glue, paper, sequins, foam bits and pens, they were a little wary. They started slow, and hesitantly; dutifully applying bits to the triangles of paper when suggested. Then the dam broke, especially for this little boy, whose name I cannot attempt to spell correctly, but is pronounced 'yor-yo'

Well, I could attempt to spell it correctly, but it would probably be wrong. Anyway, once he got started he was a bunting making machine. And the others all followed suit too.

And now, to ease the pain on your eyes from all the words, I give you pictures:

And contrary to the expression on the little girls faces, they were having a great time. They just didn't appreciate my sneakiness with the camera.

So, by the end of the day all of the kids had made their own lengths of truly impressive bunting, and had managed to knot themselves in it before being untangled and walked home.

The highlight of my day was watching them run up to their parents and show them what they'd made. It was pure brilliance.

Oh, and of course the paper moustaches. The fact that they all went home holding them to their noses was hilarious.

I'd just like to take this time to say it was windy and I had PVA Glue in my hair.
Also, in honour of the moustaches, Huzzah.

If you've got to this point, thanks for sticking with it. And for that, I leave you with lots of love.

God Bless x