Due to unforeseeable circumstances we are yet to announce our winner. We will be announcing in October, so if you’ve entered good luck and you should hear something once we do announce a winner. Once again thank you to those who entered and raise valuable funds for Umoja Orphanage Kenya.
Here’s another writing quote to keep you motivated to write in the meanwhile:
by Guest Blogger – Lauren Dionysius
Things I have learned:
- jamming people into the back of a ute is an acceptable means of transportation
- the average cactus makes for a perfectly functional clothesline
- red dirt turns to red mud in the rain
- car maintenance is overrated: 8 breakdowns in 3 days between 4 Land Cruisers is a lot, even for Africa!
- urgency does not exist: no-one is in a hurry and nothing happens quickly
- and the quicker you can adjust to (and accept!) the previous point, the easier life will be!
- don’t be fooled: ‘pap’, ‘maizemeal’ and ‘sadsa’ are all the same stuff, but different countries use different names. And while it might look like chocolate pudding, it will never, EVER taste like it, regardless of how much sugar you add!
- the ticks in Africa enjoy the taste of humans and the resulting ‘tick bite fever’ is cruel, especially in the remote African bush
- every tree in Africa has a thorn of some description
- electricity is overrated, however hot showers are NOT!
- do not visit the Tanzanian coast during Ramadan – food is scarce!
- 25 children died unnecessarily in Malawi because the hospital ran out of anti-malarial and they weren’t restocked for a month
- bean stew actually looks and tastes worse than it sounds
- the ‘toilets’ in this part of the world are on a whole new level of stink! You are better off learning to squat in the bush – just look out for thorns &, um, local kids!
- when the entire mobile and internet networks are down, Africa just keeps on going. What would Australia do?
- ‘nibblies’ in Kenya are called ‘bitings’
- sleeping out under a starry Namibian sky is a magical experience
- 1000s of seals in the one place = one giant stink (though still smells better than a Tanzanian toilet!)
- the city of Cape Town is just as beautiful the third time round as the first
- seatbelts are optional in Africa
- dust gets everywhere into EVERYTHING
- don’t underestimate the off-road capabilities of the humble mini-van – those things can go up, over and through things at speed, if given the chance!
- it is possible to survive without phone reception for two weeks. I am living proof.
- a sossusvlei is a lake in the desert between sand dunes
- a deadvlei is a dried up sossusvlei
- don’t eat tuna at the beach – you will attract lots of seagulls
- it is possible to survive (many days even!) without the internet
- I am not cut out to be a makoro poler (those little dug out canoe things in Botswana)
- Namibia is the most stunning country in Africa, that I have been to so far
- every place in Namibia starts with an ‘O’ or an ‘S’ which is very confusing!
- trekking through wild Ugandan jungle in search of gorillas is no easy feat
- there’s very little in Africa that cannot be fixed with a screwdriver and duct tape.
Why not enter today and see where it takes you?
Lauren Dionysius is a 30-something Registered Nurse chasing bigger dreams. She’s passionate about writing, bikram yoga and wholefood nutrition and is in the process of combining these into her dream career. She lives in Bundaberg, Queensland but travels regularly overseas seeking new life experiences, from volunteering in Africa, or a writing retreat in Italy, to yoga in Bali, and studying nutritional healing in the USA. She thrives on growth and deepening her awareness of world we live in. She is a writer, an editor & a hungry soul searcher.
Lauren is also the winner of last year’s Umoja Writing Competition. She said, “My love for writing started as a ten year old with a bizarre, if not somewhat obsessive, collection of pens, rubber erasers and pretty paper. Even at school, I was fascinated by how words looked on paper and enjoyed the task of giving meaning to their order. Later, my nursing studies morphed my creative writing into dull academia, and, as a perpetual uni student who loved to write, I continued on to study a variety of topics including research, photography, clinical nursing, counseling, and most recently, international health. But it wasn’t until I enrolled in a travel writing course that I realised that I didn’t want to write about someone else’s topics anymore, I wanted to write about what was in my heart…
“In 2011, I took a “career break” from nursing to volunteer in Africa doing wildlife conservation and research projects. It was here that my love for travel was united with my creative spark to write my feelings into words and experiences into stories. I recounted my adventures in a blog to share with friends and family back home. I wrote about how Africa changed my view of the world and nudged me to re-evaluate what was important in my life. I soon realised that my life in Australia was inside-out and upside-down. By quitting my day job and leaving that stressful, money-driven life behind, I was free to embrace the vulnerability and uncertainty that is synonymous with Africa. It was the bravest, scariest decision I’ve ever made, but I learned so many life lessons along the way. I learned that living a rich life had little to do with money. Richness came through connections with myself and other people in the form of friendships, relationships, kinships and hardships. I realised that no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t “buy myself happy”. Perhaps most importantly though, Africa taught me to be grateful, not guilty, for the opportunities, safety and freedom that was my privileged life back in Australia, one that I’d long taken for granted.
“Since returning from Africa I have kept these lessons close and have worked to apply them to my life here in Australia. I have returned to nursing, but in a position with healthy hours and less money (to match the effort required!), while still continuing to travel overseas. I am surrounded by friends and family and finally understand what having a ‘work-life balance’ really means.”
She draw inspiration from other writers and a wide variety of genres. She gets her “chic lit fix” from Sophie Kinsella and reads Jodi Picoult to absorb life-inspiring messages. Dean Koontz keeps her awake at night jumping at every noise she hears, but his use of language is alluring. She also loves Brene Brown and Eckhart Tolle who allow her to look beyond the words into mind and soul in order to create different words and new stories”.
We thank Lauren for contributing to Umoja Writing Competition blog and wish her the best in her endevours in writing and life. She will be contributing further as a guest blogger so look out for her new posts. She’ll be firstly writing about ‘why we write’ and then giving us an experienced insight into volunteering overseas. We look forward to her next posts.