Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Farewell Dinner Fit For a Queen!

Last night Chris and I were invited to dinner at my friend’s Kat’s house. I thought it was just going to be the 3 of us for an casual evening of hanging out, as Kat and I normally do. When I arrived I was greeting by the fabulous Dani Brow n and her husband Dave (don’t worry Dave you’re fabulous too) and then our other fab friends Lisa and Clint joined us moments later - well Clint was late but it was good to have them there to complete us. It was an evening filled with DELICIOUS food, fun stories LOTS and LOTS of laughing and some amazing toasts! Even Chris’ great “Come Back” toast meant a lot :)

It made me realize how fortunate I really am and I can't wait to have another dinner so that I can tell them all about the real adventures in Africa as opposed to Clint and Dani's predictions (though hilarious.)

I just want to remind everyone, that I will only be gone for 2 months, and though it may sound like a long time it will fly by and I'll be home before you know it. Hopefully with an amazing tan!

So with a week left before my departure, I say thank you to everyone who has been so supportive of this journey, it's been a long one. I know there will be parts that are tough but it will be an experience like nothing else. One of my favorite quotes by Ghandi is "You must be the change you wish to see in the world" that pretty much says it all!

Friday, June 17, 2011


Two weeks from today I will be on a plane on my way to Africa!!! I can’t believe it’s almost here, it seemed so far away. I am very excited but I am also very nervous. There is still lots to do - like get things ready for life while I am away (apparently credit cards, car and school loan companies don’t care that you’re away volunteering, they still want their money….the nerve!) I also have to purchase a few things before I go, like LOTS of over the counter meds and toiletries. There are no Wal-marts in Africa L so I have to be prepared! I also have to get my malaria meds in the mail – they have been shipped, now they just have to arrive, thanks express scripts for taking your sweet time with this. (insert sarcasm here.)

The good thing is I am not stressed about being able to get everything done I know it will happen and the major stuff is taken care of: flights, passport, visas, vaccinations, payment to organization, you know the important stuff.

I just need to get there and get situated, meet my host family see the town where I will be living and then I am sure I will be fine. It’s a lot of unknowns that make me nervous, but it’s the same feeling you get when moving to a new place or starting a new job so I will be fine, I tend to adjust well. I’m excited to learn about a new culture and meet lots of new people.

The other thing I have to do is upload my old ipod nano (I hope it still works.) Any song suggestions for the 11 hour plane ride? Also, any good books you might suggest…I will have LOTS of time so send ideas my way!

Till next time….. Kwaheri (goodbye in Swahili)

Monday, June 13, 2011

An Introduction

For those of you who know me well, you probably didn't even bat an eye when I said that I was going to spend the summer in Africa volunteering. For everyone else here's a little background on my volunteer craze and need to do this....

After college I joined AmeriCorps *NCCC which many call the domestic Peace Corps. I traveled throughout the US (mostly on the west coast) working with a great team of people (YEA!! G-2) helping not-for-profits, schools and government agencies on short term projects. This was an amazing experience and not only did I learn many valuable skills (like living in a 2 bedroom apt with 10 people) but I was also able to make a difference. As AmeriCorps wrapped up and I was forced into the adult world I started researching volunteering abroad, however I had no money and was offered a job so that dream went to the back burner.

Currently, I am the Director for the RPM Youth Group, an amazing community youth group where high school students come together at meetings to talk about life issues, have fun, and focus on community service. We volunteer locally at places like Interfaith Homeless Shelter, Habitat for Humanity, Regional Food Bank, Salvation Army etc. We also take a weeklong mission trip during the school spring break to volunteer, mostly doing home repair. This is one of my favorite times of the year. It's incredibly inspiring and I wish I could do it all year long!

Between my time in AmeriCorps and my time with the youth group, I have decided that I am determined to follow my dream and volunteer abroad. With the support of my husband, mother, friends and my extended church family (all 3 churches ) I have been able to live out this dream without all of you I don’t know if I could actually do this on my own. – THANK YOU!!!

So where am I going and what will I be doing you ask?

On July 1st I will start my African Adventure and fly to Ghana to volunteer with the organization Students Travel and Exposure to South Africa. The organization started 15 years ago in South Africa and has since expanded to 17 different countries helping many NGOs, schools, hospitals and communities through capacity building, development, empowerment and of course volunteerism.

I will spend a month in Denu, Ghana, a rural village on the coast, and close to the border of Togo (pause while you look at google maps.) While there, I will be helping with the planning and construction of an orphanage. Once completed this orphanage will provide a home and education to orphans, street kids, and children with disabilities. Free education will be provided for the children in the community and its surrounding villages. Eventually, there will be a library and recreational and youth training centers as well as programs to serve abused women and create jobs for unemployed people in the community.

Upon completion of my service in Ghana, I will then fly to Arusha, Tanzania and spend two weeks, teaching English and math and spending time with the children at the orphanage. There is no doubt in my mind that though I will be teaching those children, I will gain far more, from them than I could ever give.

In both locations, I will stay with host families and be immersed in the local cultures.

Once finished with my volunteer work my BFF, Nikki will join me and we will set off on safari and travel around Tanzania for 11 days (I don’t know if Africa is ready for that!) I will return to the US on August 25th.

Many of you have ask me what about Chris….Yes, he knows I am going, No, he will not be joining me, this is my deal (as he puts it) and he use to joke that I would one day leave him for the Peace Corps so I guess being away for only 2 months isn’t so bad! However, dinners, casseroles and babysitting might be needed (I kid, I kid….well… kind of.)

So there you have it folks-- the intro of what, why and when -the details…. I have been told that I will have access to the Internet while in both locations however it will be a dial up connection at an Internet cafĂ©. My hope is to blog about once a week so that you can see how and what I am doing. I hope you enjoy reading about my adventures - talk to you soon!