Wordless Wednesday: Volunteering in Kenya

Six years ago, I went to Kenya for a one year stint as a VSO Volunteer.
It changed my perspectives completely.

Farmers meeting in Lukore.

Now I am back in my country, the Philippines, and I am still working in the development field. My experiences in Kenya have made me a better development worker and prompted me to work even harder for the advancement of the farmers, with particular interest with women.

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Monday Mellow Yellows: Rising sun

I’m not a morning person but there are times when I am required to get up very early and report to work. These are times when we have some visitors to take to our project areas so we needed to be there ahead of them to make sure that every thing needed for their visit is in place.  Some weeks ago, we had another group of visitors and so …

One of the best things about going to work ahead of everybody is I get the opportunity to see the sun rise from the east, as you can see in the picture. Not many people these days get this chance to witness the beautiful sunrise.

One of the perks of going to work verrrrry early!
One of the perks of going to work verrrrry early!

I don’t know but I feel so lucky watching the sun rise from behind the mountains. Lucky to be alive, to see another brand new day. That’s just me, being in awe of God’s creation and His magnificence… on my way to work and enjoying the view unfolding before me.

How about you? How do you feel when watching a sunrise, or a sunset?

Monday Mellow Yellows

Monday Mellow Yellows 060: Yellow Mama Bunny

I guess I’m a tad too late for the Easter greetings, lol.

mama bunny
I found this photo in one of albums. I looked goofy, didn’t I? This was taken when we (my younger sister and I) took family members to the zoo on their first visit to Pampanga. My mother, niece, my son and their nanny loved the place! We all took turns having our photo taken with this yellow bunny.

My husband and son flew to Roxas City this morning and I miss them already. My husband is resuming his job as a government worker. My son will be enrolled in a new school while I stay in Pampanga and wait till the baby comes before I head home as well. My mother and father is coming over next month to be with me. Which is really great coz I’m in dire need of companion, other than my sister. After I give birth, all three of us are going back to Roxas. So for me, it will be another chapter as MamaGirl, with baby number two in tow 🙂

Monday Mellow Yellows

Feels great to be home

Touch down, Roxas City!!

Wooot! I’m in my hometown since Wednesday. This is the seafood capital of the Philippines and I am alreading having a binge of fresh seafoods that I long have missed while we are in Angeles City. Of course, I also missed my parents and my payag (nipa hut) in Ivisan! My parents are getting older (and crankier, hahaha) everytime I see them but I love them both nonetheless. The little boy also missed his Grandpa and Grandma and his younger cousins, Beebop and Chappy. They have been playing non-stop but the girls noted the little boy speaks funny and demanded they speak in Hiligaynon (our dialect) instead, rather than Tagalog (the dialect he now learned to speak while in Angeles City). Oh how funny these cousins are!

We flew via Cebu Pacific’s discounted fares, that’s me, my husband, and our little boy. Thanks to my Ate (elder sister) who booked the ticket for us using my younger sistah’s credit card, lol. That’s how I call outsourcing. Imagine, we saved more than P5K (about $150) because of the really HUUUGE combined discount from the three round-trip tickets.

Anyhoo, I can only write a short post today as we are busy in the preparations for the coming wedding of my younger brother. The ceremony will take place this coming Monday (Dec 17). Thankfully we already had our dresses done so it’s less task in the list. I’ll be busy running around errands for the bro.

Also, one more thing. I heard about the Fairy Hobmother visiting blogs these days. When I read about it at my friend’s blog I could not believe it. A Fairy Hobmother spreading good intentions all over the world? Too good to be true, right? But, really, the Fairy Hobmother is for real. I know because he already visited a friend and my sister.  I’ll have to go and visit my sister’s blog and see how I can get the Fairy Hobmother to visit me, too.

 And lastly, I have some good news but it is too soon to tell, I think. I’ll wait a few more weeks to see how it goes and then I’ll announce it! hahaha. This is all for now, ta-ta!

Mellow Yellow Monday 026: Women at the market

Just a random scene at a market in rural Kenya. On weekends, oftentimes I went to the market just so I could soak in Kenyan culture. Although this market is small and not like any other markets in the western world, I love going to this kind of market. So many things going on at a given time – so many colors, sounds, and oh, the smell!

These yellow plastic buckets are used for carrying water and other stuff.

While I was there, I was trying so hard to speak the Kishwahili language. Although not fluent enough, I practiced by talking to the women in the community where I was working. Oh what fun. Imagine if I had mastered the language – not only it would have been very helpful to my work but I would probably bonded more with the locals.

Mellow Yellow Monday 025: Sunrise in Kenya

I’m reminiscing my time as a VSO volunteer in Kenya with this picture. I was browsing through my digital files and got hold of this picture… it’s a picture of the first sunrise I witnessed in Kenya…

Glorious sunrise on Kenyan soil.

Looking at this picture, I can still remember the anxiety, anticipation as well as the excitement. New environment. New culture. New faces. New everything!

Hello guys and gals!

The holidays are just around the corner so… Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to us all! I can’t believe it is now a year since I came back from my volunteer stint with VSO Jitolee in Kenya. One year has passed and, my, how life has changed. I remember the excitement and great anticipation I had last year counting the days that I would finally be back to my land of birth and be with my son, husband, and family once again. I got teary-eyed every time I heard my co-volunteers in Mombasa mentioned “Christmas”, “family”, and “celebration”. I don’t know with others but in my family, Christmas means family members coming home for one big celebration and reunion. This year though is different. We won’t make it to our family Christmas because of work.

Anyways, one of my cousins came home for the holidays. He is based in the US as a nurse, a head nurse in one of the units in the hospital where he works. His is one success story. Small-town boy, finished his nursing course, worked in our city before getting an opportunity to go the US to work. He started at the very bottom of the ladder, studied (again) hard and worked his way up.  He told us that even doctors who aspire to have a higher-position are taking a medical management course to help them achieve it. Another family friend, who is in the UK at the moment, even went an extra mile and took a consultant interview course to ensure she was fully-equipped with tools and skills needed to clinch a position she was aiming for. And it worked because, the last time I heard, she was promoted. Also I noticed that more and more medical professionals are considering the medical teaching course. They might be doctors who don’t exactly practice their profession full-time and spend half of their time educating other doctors. Instead of doing the surgery, for example, they are teaching other doctors how to teach.  That’s the teach the teacher course. In NGO words, that’s a trainer’s training course.

Back to my cousin… I envy my cousin because he is really doing good in his profession. He has a nice house, drives his own car, and probably sooner or later, he’ll be a green-card holder. Will it be not too late for me to enter the medical and medical care profession? Had I excelled in the sciences and we had the financial resources, I would have probably considered this. Having said that, I’m happy with my work. Development work is very challenging but it has its own rewards.  It took me to least developed countries and contributed to helping people help themselves 🙂 Excuse the digression. I think I’m just getting the holiday blues.

Wii are busy…

… playing Wii games.
Yeheyyy, we now have Wii at home!

My younger sister won it from a raffle draw at her office – how lucky she is, isn’t she? Along with the console are two game CDs, guitar hero (with a guitar set) and WiiSports. I remembered my older sister, who bought hers last year, bragging about how much she lost weight by playing Wii tennis and cycling. I could not believe it for how can someone actually lose so much weight just by playing video games? Is she pulling my leg, or what?

Well – after playing a few rounds of WiiSports for two weeks now, I know it is possible (after sweating buckets, I think I lost weight already, hahaha), just like what my older sister told me. She made a commitment to play at least 30mins a day while at the same time controlling her food portion and it actually paid off. But it took her at least 3months to see the difference in her weight and it was a slow process. A friend of hers who wanted immediate change tried some supplemental stuff at http://www.enutriments.com/ and she had good results.

As for me, I think it’s a combination of all three – exercise (playing Wii), food control, as well as supplements – that do the trick. I myself need to lose lots of weight (the pregnancy fat didn’t go away!) so I am really sold on diligently playing Wii to lose my unwanted excess pounds. And while I do the Wii and food control, the supplements will provide me the necessary energy, especially that I work on a graveyard shift – without packing on the carbs and sweets. So it is really a GO and I’m excited! You’ll know of any progress I’ll make as I’m going to share it here 🙂

I’m a survivor!

Yes, I am so.
But I am getting an addiction. Caffeine addiction.

It’s been two months since I started with my new job. I thought I was not going to last this long because I’ve never been the one to pull an all-nighter even when I was still a student. But, as time goes by, I’m surprised my body is coping well with the graveyard schedule. But I felt like a somnambulist in my early days and weeks at my new workplace, walking aimlessly never fully awake.

Coffee became my new best friend – and I’ve learned to like my coffee strong. It keeps me awake and somehow now I am addicted to it. My sister is afraid that too much caffeine will adversely affect my health. But it’s not like alcohol or drug addiction, I reason out. But still she frets; she says addiction is addiction, period. To avoid that scenario, she suggested I eat apples instead when I feel drowsy while at work. Apples have natural elements that boosts one’s energy. Plus, she says, they are more digestible and gives enough fuel my body needs to get going. Hey, wait a minute. That’s going too far, don’t you think so? I’m only experiencing coffee addiction, and not something serious. And I’m supposed to be the older one, how come my younger sister is telling me all of this? LOL.

Mellow Yellow Monday 015: Cheesy birthday cupcakes

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My birthday cupcakes – cheesy, yummy cupcakes!

my birthday cupcakes

I quietly celebrated my 3*th birthday with the family – without my husband who is in far away Roxas. But I’m not going to dwell on that as he’s going to be here with me and my son soon enough.

Thank you GOD for another year of adventures, excitement, fun, ano pa?! I hope everything will be a success and our lives will be with ‘everything’ =) Salamat sa mga friendship!

Seriously… I thank the Lord for the continued blessings He is giving me and my family. For the gift of love, happiness, hope, strength, and perseverance, and for a close-knit family that makes life beautiful, despite the circumstances… all these will keep me going and going and going… just like the energizer bunny!

Thanks to all those who remembered and greeted. Appreciated it a lot.

Daghang salamat… Madamo gid nga salamat… Maraming salamat… Asante sana..Okorn charan…THANK YOU guys…..I wish we all have the ‘beri beeri’ BEST things in life! =)

Here’s to another year of making good memories. And, oh…Happy birthday to me!

Pondering some thoughts

In other words, nag-esep-esep ang MamaGirl, hehehe.

This post is about one of those moments where I’m not wearing my mama hat but instead I’m wearing a working-mama hat. Prior to my posting in Cambodia and long before the Kenya assignment, I already finished several units (about two semester’s worth) on my masteral degree in public administration in my hometown. At that time, I was aiming for a position in one of the city government, if not provincial government positions, as I already passed the civil service exams, albeit sub-prof only.

But, as luck would have it, I didn’t finish the public administration degree as mid-way through the first semester of my second year (I think, can’t remember exactly now) I was accepted as a Volunteer Agriculturist in Cambodia in 1999. It was my first international assignment and my first international trip to a country that has just gotten itself out of the long years of civil war and genocide. Then the infrastructure was in total disarray, if not non-existent, and so my hopes of continuing my studies via Online Schools had to be set aside as  Internet was very expensive and unreliable; besides I traveled regularly to four provinces in Cambodia time was a problem too. I had to keep further studies aside to focus on my work.

So what is it I want to study again if ever I have an opportunity again? Not public administration again, I’m afraid. Since I’ve been thrust into development work I was thinking of pursuing any online degree programs in project management or any other development-related studies. This degree coupled with my already-existing development work skills would enable me to work effectively, efficiently, and with more positive results should I continue with development work.

I somehow confided this to a co-volunteer in Mombasa and she enthusiastically urged me to go ahead. Now that I have no more other commitments I feel it is time that I consider this again. But, really, it’s bad timing. I have all the time now but financially it is not possible. hehehe. If only there is a resource for people like me who’d like to study and secure a scholarship or a student aid from the government, like this one I found here:  http://studentaid2.ed.gov/gotocollege/collegefinder/advanced_find.asp, it would have been great. Is there anything like this in the Philippines? Hmmm… I need to do more research I suppose and keep all my fingers and toes crossed.

Okies, tama na ang drama a. Back to reality na, gotta hit the sack now.

Toodles, noodles!