Wow 2014 has been one of the biggest years of my life! Sadly, I haven’t shared as much here as I would have liked.
My New Years Resolution for 2015! To blog more regularly! Share less, but more often! Little updates to keep you all in the loop as there are certainly plenty of Adventures of The Traveller Em to add!
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 17,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.
I love this new promotion for BITE BACK as part of Black Dog Institute’s program for youth in 2015. Young people have the chance to make a plan for ways to challenge themselves in 2015 and even win prizes. Here are the details!
Share your big plans to get the most out of 2015. Some massive prize packs are on offer!
There’s always room for more of the good stuff and it’s great to launch into the new year on a positive note. So for this competition, BITE BACK wants to hear about the positive things you’re doing to take life to the next level.
To sweeten the deal they’ve got 5 prize packs to give away for the most captivating entries including Fuji instant cameras, zombie speakers, an ice cream maker, desktop mini pool table, and heaps more.
Loving this idea of taking positive steps with mental health. Setting plans and making goals are important for a bright future!
In 2015, Emma Lovell will take on the Trek to Happiness in Bhutan with Black Dog Institute. Emma is aiming to raise $3500 for this wonderful organisation. Each year, Black Dog Institute aims to advance the understanding, diagnosis and management of depression and Bipolar Disorder and improve the lives of those affected by these mood disorders. Please help Emma in this cause by donating through the online fundraising page: http://bhutantrektohappiness.gofundraise.com.au/page/LovellyEmma
We are blessed here in Australia to live the majority of our time in such peace and calm. The incidents in Martin Place, Sydney on Monday 15 December 2014 only amplify this sentiment. Hostages were taken in what is called the “Sydney Siege” as the whole city, country and parts of the World went into overdrive over the rare occurrence of a possible terrorist attack in Sydney.
It’s awful. It’s horrible. It’s scary. And for other people, in other parts of the world, violence is just daily activity.
I recently visited Uganda with World Vision Australia on the #WVAbloggers tour to learn about their projects. Before you go, you are given copious amounts of reading materials on the country you will be visiting. Culture, health warnings, safety, history and so much more. The safety and health warnings were of course something to note, especially with Africa currently facing ebola and fears of it spreading to other parts of the continent and the World. But for me it was the history that stood out the most. The war torn, dictator led and home based violence that this country has endured was astounding. Most of us cannot even begin to imagine what it is like to live through such a thing. For some people, even as I write this, it’s just another day.
I loved seeing the shirts above worn by community members. ACT NOW: Stop gender based violence. Speaking out against such things and standing together as a community has made huge changes.
We first saw these shirts when we met these beautiful smiling women. They have come from broken homes where they possibly experienced family violence from their parents, or marital violence from their spouse. The majority of them had not been able to finish school due to lack of money, leaving a broken home or marriage or falling pregnant with a child.
Here I am pictured talking to a beautiful smiling girl. She was laughing and embarrassed and shy to speak to me. It was a little hard to communicate but I wanted to ask her how being there had changed her life. This was a vocational training skills program. Here she would learn to sew, knit and tailor with the possibility to work in someone else’s sewing business or even start her own. From a disadvantaged background to an opportunity to have financial freedom, that’s something to smile about.
This photo is hard for me to see. I struggled when speaking to this woman in green. She was nursing a baby, less than one month old. She was in her late teens and she just did not want to be there. I couldn’t work out if she was shy and not wanting to engage me or if she was genuinely unhappy. I tried to ask her about her time here and if it was difficult with the baby. One of the other girls seemed to point out that there wasn’t really a marital structure around her and that the baby was perhaps from an unfortunate circumstance. I can’t even imagine what this poor girl is going through. I left her alone but I walked away with a sad and heavy heart.
Ultimately, meeting these women was inspiring and enlightening. They are determined to gain skills, continue their education and make a future for themselves. With the support of World Vision Australia and local community groups. No-one should have to live in fear or be stopped from doing something through fear of violence or terror.
Again, my sincerest regards go out to those in the hostage scene in Sydney and their families. What a horrible ordeal to endure. My heart at the same time goes out to women who are perhaps at this moment living in a home where they endure domestic violence on a daily basis. To all those in war-torn countries with battles raging at this very moment, my heart goes out to your soldiers and innocent people caught in the crossfire. To those who have fled from their homes in search of safety, I think of you today.
Meeting the people of Uganda was by far the best part of our #WVAbloggers tour in Uganda in November. I was flown over to visit the projects in Uganda that World Vision Australia is working on there.
It was a pleasure to travel to Uganda with three amazing women. Three World Vision staff and the awesome blogger, Eden Riley. Lou Acheson, who was the wonderful woman we communicated with when organising trip and a social media whizz at World Vision. Lou has provided me with these amazing images of the moments we had there meeting the people. Because it’s the people that are most important, it’s the people we are there to help, and it’s the people who have the stories.
The cry of “WELLCOME” whenever we arrived somewhere brought joy to our hearts. Well -come is how it’s pronounced in Uganda. You are WELL-come. You really sincerely felt that. Everyone wants to shake your hand, tell you their story or even way hello if they’re a little further away. It’s strange going into a community on the other side of the world, you are an outsider and you are well aware of it. But in Uganda, this is not a problem, they genuinely and sincerely mean it and want to show you what impact World Vision has had for them.
From Vocational training skills workshops of sewing classes, to hairdressing salons run by students of the skills workshops. Walking between projects and children on the street wanted to say hello. I loved sitting with these people and being able to just chat and learn about their way of life.
On my final day of visits, we were with a sub county group. The local project manager introduced us as visitors from Australia. He quickly corrected himself and said “They are actually no longer visitors. In Uganda, if someone stays for more than one day, they are no longer a visitor. They are home.” My eyes filled with tears at this lovely welcome once again in Uganda and made me terribly sad that my visit was so short.
The stories, the smiles and the hope that I saw in these communities will stay with me for a long long time. Here are just a few photos that stood out from Lou Acheson’s snaps.
As a guest writer for Social Biz Magazine, I’ve been able to explore some of the ways in which we can use social media. At the moment, I’m really into Social Media for social good. Here is an excerpt from that article:
“I vowed to raise a minimum of $4000 for World Vision Australia and to take on the mighty climb to Everest Base Camp in March 2015. Call me cocky, but I wasn’t really phased by the task (of fundraising that is; the trek is another matter altogether!). This is because I believe in the power of social media and how we can use the medium for good. So I set about raising said $4000 solely using social media and guess what… it worked!”
Excited to go to this event. The Afterlife has always fascinated and frightened me. I’m not sure what I believe or what I know but I know I want to learn more.
Death is one of life’s greatest mysteries. Do we really die and simply no longer exist, or does our soul continue on a journey after we draw our last breath? The big question is what do the experts say?
The inaugural Australian Afterlife Explorers Conference will be held at the Parramatta RSL in Sydney’s West from January 24-26 in 2015. It offers a fascinating line-up of experts, researchers and authors.
The Australian Afterlife Explorers Conference has built the bridge between science and spirituality. Conference goers will get the chance to harness the latest in-depth knowledge and evidence.
Some of Australia’s most knowledgeable professionals will be presenting including Debbie Malone – spirit medium and clairvoyant, Barry Eaton, broadcaster and author, retired lawyer Victor Zammit, International President of the Michael Newton Institute, Peter Smith, and Australian academic Michele Knight.
“My expectation is that the Afterlife Explorer’s Conference will confirm, many times over, that we are spiritual beings incarnated in physical form, rather than human beings striving for some spiritual existence. ” (Mick Turner, organiser)
“With absolute certainty the evidence shows that life does go on and you will see your loved ones again.” (Victor Zammit, speaker)
“One of the most important benefits of this conference will be to help people realise that life is ongoing, only the body dies.” (Barry Eaton, speaker)
“Interdimensional Trans Communication (ITC), which is inclusive of Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP) provides empirical evidence about the multidimensional nature of consciousness, and people attending the Conference will have their minds challenged and expanded.” (Rob Smith, speaker)
Whether you’re grieving the loss of a loved one, curious about what happens when others die, or pondering your own mortality, then this conference will leave you feeling less fearful about death, inspired to live a more loving and purposeful life, and comforted by new thoughts of your loved ones in the afterlife.
The conference is expected to attract psychologists and medical practitioners, spiritual observers and members of the general public. Do we really die, or is there life after death?
It’s been now one week since I returned from Uganda and I’ve remained in a heightened state of emotion. Everything I see, everything I’ve been doing makes me reflect upon the things I saw over there with World Vision. Taking a trip like this really is life changing.
The walk to work looks different. The food I buy for lunch tastes different. The people I interact with and associate with seem different. My world view has changed, and it’s for the better!
When you visit the third world, and more to the point, the rural parts of these countries, you can see the dramatic differences in needs and wants. We in Australia live in a world of want. There are people of course who need support and who need help within Australian communities. There are always going to be different levels of society, but the majority of us at the very least have our basic needs met. The people I saw in Uganda, were often still working on the first tier of needs.
It wasn’t all despair and depravity. Quite the contrary. The biggest thing I took away from it was the hope. The encouragement that World Vision’s support gives to these communities is helping them to not only meet their basic needs, but hope for a better future. This doesn’t mean a flat screen tv on the wall or a high paying role in the city. This means children going to school, having necessary vaccinations such as polio and measles and access to clean water. It’s the opportunity to learn skills to start a business, to have financial freedom and provide for themselves and their family. What an amazing thing to give someone – hope! Sponsoring a child in Uganda with World Vision gives an entire community hope!
I have hope now. It made me look at my own life and realize how ridiculously lucky I am to have been born in Australia, to a good family with access to quality education and to have a community around me that supports me. I cry as I write this as I do feel some guilt for days where I say “Woe is me, it’s all unfair and why can’t things be easier”. I’m so blessed to have seen these communities and met these people and to know that if they can overcome lacking the basic needs for survival, I can at the very least be content in my position in the world.
I have hope for the people I met. I believe in them and know that they will work together to build a better future for their community. It takes commitment and hard work from both sides. The Ugandan people to accept the support and work with organisations such as World Vision. World Vision to fulfil their duty of care and support these communities in helping them basic needs. From my experience, they are 100% doing just that!
Perhaps we need to focus more on what is needed and not simply, what we want. Perhaps this Christmas, you can put someone else’s basic needs before that new computer, perfume or game you may want….
This is a tough list to compile. How does one summate a three day experience filled with incredible interactions to a short summary? With difficulty! But I have taken 10 of the instagram images and stories I shared at the time that really struck a chord with me and I still cannot take out of my mind! These are just snippets of our experiences and I look forward to sharing more in-depth stories about all of them.
We visited a vocational skills training centre with #WVAbloggers@worldvisionaus#Uganda initiated by AWAKE Uganda with the support of Iyolwa ADP. This girls smile says it all! Valuable skills in sewing, tailoring & knitting with which they can start their own business and make a future.
Special moment with @worldvisionaus#WVAbloggers tour #Uganda. This teacher is helping these darling schoolgirls with the tricky topic of menstruation. They are beneficiaries of the re-useable sanitary towels’ initiative. Before this program, girls in #Uganda felt shame to the point of dropping out of school over this natural occurrence in their lives as women. So amazing to see the change & hope for their future! #girlpower#empowerment#basicneeds
“We know English. We know English. We know English. We know everything”#WVAbloggers The children sang to us at a tree nursery in a project area of@worldvisionaus in #Uganda. Oh darling children, if only it were true! We don’t know everything because we know English and we still have so much to learn. Seeing your beautiful faces, understanding your needs and observing your lives here – you are teaching me! Thank you! The song continued “this is the handbag. This is the handbag. This is the handbag. We know everything.” When they got to the … A pencil and the … A pen. … The song was slightly more complex..
Learning is fun!! At a school to hear about the impact of #childsponsorship#WVAbloggers@worldvisionaus This woman spoke beautifully about how she loves working with the children and sharing news with sponsors. I thanked her on behalf of sponsors like myself, the annual reports, updates, letters and photos mean the world to us!
This is Siwana. He is 8. He was rehabilitated from #malnutrition. #WVAbloggers@worldvisionaus Look at his beautiful, healthy & smiling face. We met the family and saw how now they have good nutrition and farming practices for ongoing health for the family. This is something we think is innate, what is good for your baby and child. It’s not. Education is key!
This borehole has meant that this community in Nabukalu ADP has access to clean water. #WVAbloggers They were in a dire situation of visiting a nearby pond, filled with algae, frogs and possibly snakes. This was also shared by animals & used for washing of clothes, let alone drinking.
Reality sets in on the #WVAbloggers#Uganda tour: hundreds of children and parents waiting for immunisations & health checks at an immunisation outreach program. It’s amazing what they are doing. These families now have access to this kind of healthcare. I could no longer hold back the tears. I was happy for what I saw and proud of the parents. But to think, what did they do in the past without @worldvisionaus There is now hope. It’s a great thing. These are tears of joy, so grateful for the good people of this world and those who support#worldvision and their work.
These t-shirts were worn in the communities we visited and I really loved seeing this message over and over again. Worn proudly on the members bodies, stating clearly their proactive approach to ending abuses of children’s rights.
Got some brownie points in my travel karma bank the other day. Met a lovely young German girl on the plane on my way back from Uganda and the #WVAbloggers trip.
This young girl was 18 and first time doing a big travel by herself. So sweet and naive. She thought she could book a hostel when she arrived but it was Stereosonic in Sydney that weekend. We were chatting about why she was travelling and what she would be doing. Couldn’t believe she was taking this on all by herself.
Once we landed, I offered to use my phone to try calling some of the locations as they sometimes have availabilities that they don’t show online. After calling 5 hostels for her and trawling the internet, I invited her to stay at my house for the night. Her other option was to stay at the airport. UM, NO! That’s not happening on my watch. We arrived at midnight and I couldn’t stand the thought of her out there on her own hunting down a room or sleeping on a sterile airport floor.
We arrived by taxi to my house and the poor little thing was just so gobsmacked by the whole situation. It was her first time to this part of the world, so we even drive on the wrong side for her. She tried to pay for the taxi and I wouldn’t let her. The amount of people who have showed me kindness, love and support in my travels as a young person is impossible to put a number to. It’s my turn to give back.
Dad was amazing and set up the couch for her and welcomed her in. Both Dad and I speak a little Deutsch so we tried to make her feel comfortable with some words from home. She was very sweet and kept thanking us. We settled in for half an hour or so and then it was bed time. She couldn’t stop smiling.
In the morning, we got up early and I drove her to the city as I was heading there anyway. I found a place to drop her in the centre of the city, World Square, where she would be able to drop her bags and spend the day hunting around for places to stay. I’d also introduced her to Air B’n’B as a great way to find alternative accommodation. She again thanked me profusely. I told her this was entirely unnecessary, helping her was a blessing and I know it will put her in goos stead to have an amazing adventure!
Sending the good karma out there for all the wonderful people who have helped me in my many years of travel. It’s the traveller code. So if you see a traveller in need, remember to pay it forward!