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Rosie Scribble

Reflecting on Africa

It seems at age since I spent a week in Cameroon with the 060 Pampers and UNICEF team. Eight months  on, I am reflecting on the trip and wondering what, if anything, has changed since then.

And life has changed.

I now have my health, which was questionable at times before the trip. Things changed substantially for me when I talked to a doctor in a nutrition clinic about children suffering from malnutrition. I came home, sorted out my own at-times-restricted diet and I haven’t looked back since.

The newfound appreciation of the material wealth we have in the developed world has also remained with me. We buy a lot less these days and we get outdoors a lot more.

I do think of the women I met; I doubt little has changed for them or their families. I hope the success of the campaign to eliminate tetanus made a small difference to the lives of those with so many additional issues to face.

My posts about the trip were read by 250 people each day, which wasn’t a great deal. I had hoped the message would reach further but I hope in some small way it did get through. The posts continue to be found here thanks to Google searches and hit upon a few times a week, which I’m pleased about.

I have remained, since returning from the trip, very keen to raise awareness about the lives of those in developing countries; although the realisation has hit home that one person operating in relative isolation can do very little.

Nevertheless, with communications from UNICEF I have attempted to raise awareness about the situation in Libya and in Haiti one year on. Beyond that I do feel helpless to do anything but I will continue to do the small bit I can. Maybe I’ll work in the charity sector one day. Who knows?

The most significant change is the realisation that we have so many opportunities in the UK and so many more choices in life than the women I met. Not everyone does, but I do and I want to make the most of that.

Nothing has landed on my plate since the press trip but I have made the decision to relocate the two of us next year and take on a job where I’m not working in isolation from home day in day out. I’ll also be following a few dreams and ambitions and that won’t happen unless I take action.

It will be the start of a new chapter. Already I am excited but nothing will be happening immediately so I need to wait.

All this self-reflection has come about as a result of viewing Comic Relief’s recent coverage of families in Africa and Lenny Henry’s particularly moving experience meeting children living in the slums of Nairobi, and also because Photobox gave me £40 credit to buy one of their canvas prints.

It seems a little self-indulgent in the grand scheme of things but the credit was put into my account, so I used it to order this:

Photobox canvas print
I’m thrilled with the print, although my photography skills don’t really do it justice. It is exactly what I needed as a tangible reminder of the trip. I found Photobox’s service very easy to use, the quality of the print is excellent and it was delivered promptly. I’d certainly use the service again.

And it has arrived at exactly the right time for me. It’s been easy to think that life is whizzing by and I’m not really part of it. I needed a kick-start, a reminder to keep going and seize every opportunity. So I will. Starting today and continuing tomorrow, and every single day after that.

5 comments… add one
  • WEll done you [- and yes, even one person can make a big difference. Sometimes on my trips with UNICEF I would come back and feel disconnected to the life around me – and I liked that. I loiked that the wealth adn opulence jarred me. But it wasn’t long before it all felt comfortable again. And every so often we need to be jolted again, feel the jarr that our lives are so comfortable – and safe – compared to those of others. so well done, and keep it up.

  • Oh Rosie this is such a wonderful post. You are truly an inspirational lady and good for you for working through to those resolutions. Lovely canvas print – you should be very proud of it x

  • I travelled to Kenya, Joburg, and Zimbabwe 15 years ago and it changed my life in dozens of different ways.
    Seeing the incredible poverty brought home just how privileged and lucky I was. Now, whenever I feel a bit dissatisfied with life, I remember back to the slums of Soweto, and how thrilled the children when we handed out simple ball point pens, and it quickly makes me pull my head in, and stop feeling sorry for myself.
    To this day it galls me to see water wasted – when my partner walks off and leaves the tap running, or there’s a broken Council water pipe – because I clearly remember bathing in just a few inches of water, and then saving every precious drop, so my cousin could jump in after me.
    It also made me determined to make the most of all the advantages in my life, and not take a moment of it for granted.
    It truly was a life-changing trip – just like yours – and I feel very grateful to have had that experience. x

  • Buying less and getting out more sounds like a fantastic step forward. So glad your health is much better too. Every tiny step we take to help those less fortunate is worthwhile.
    Good luck with your new plans for the future.
    Mich x

  • scribblingmum

    I read of your travels when you were away, and found it so inspiring. I think having lived abroad in a fairly privileged situation at a young age has undoubtably shaped my way of living; knowing that I’m very lucky and making the most of ‘things’. It’s a good lesson to learn at a young age.
    Happy to hear that your health is remaining …. healthy 🙂

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