Overdue Update

A slightly overdue update; thanks to a really generous donation from the Canterbury Rotary Club’s Millennium Scholarship Fund I have reached my ICS fundraising target! In the last few weeks I have also started all my vaccinations (my poor arms… they’re all bruised and feeling a little like pin cushions now) and later on today I am making my way to Wellingborough – don’t worry, I had to Google it too…. – for my pre-placement training weekend. I will finally get to meet the people I will be travelling to Sierra Leone with alongside volunteers going to Senegal!

Honestly, I’m a little nervous. Travelling on my own to somewhere I have never been; meeting loads of new people in such a short space of time. It’s going to be a little hard for me but I’m sure it will  be worth it from what I’ve heard from other volunteers. I’ll let you know how it all went when I get back!

In other news, I am now fully into my exams. This afternoon I reach my half way point which is both a relief and a scare. So far I would say they have been going okay, I just hope that I’ve put enough work in across the year and intensely over the last few weeks to get the grades that I want. I’ll just cross my fingers and pray for the best; it normally works okay.

Aside from the big stresses, life is still very busy! It’s awards season around the university and one of my societies has been nominated for loads of things! Our president and fundraising officer are off to Nottingham today for a national award ceremony that we were nominated for; on Wednesday is the Kent Union awards where we’ve been nominated for another 3 awards and the university RAG awards are coming up too – again we’ve been nominated! Obviously I am very proud of all the work that we have put in as a committee this year to run the society, fundraisers and projects but it is just so busy!!

Then to top it off I’ve got people with birthday bashes going on, the Dicken’s festival is coming up and the university concert band have our summer concert soon too… If I make it to the end of term I’ll certainly deserve the few days break before jetting off to do (hopefully) amazing work in Sierra Leone. I think I’ll just stick to surviving each day as it comes….

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Below the Line

In a few weeks’ time, I am putting myself through a personal week of Hell in aid of my fundraising for ICS and Y Care International. I’ve been thinking about it recently and I have decided to really go for it (as if I wasn’t already by giving up the things I love most). Instead of giving up my control over food, I am instead going to keep control but limit myself to the £5 challenge. What this means is that for 5 days during my week I will be living on just £5 – which is below the poverty line.

In Sierra Leone, estimates vary since data is hard to come by but between 50 and 80% of people are living in extreme poverty. Here in the UK, as many as 1 in 5 people could also be living on less than £1 a day. Globally, 1.4 billion people are estimated to be living in poverty. In 2017, this just sounds totally wrong.

I can’t imagine what it is like living on such a knife edge; I’ve always been lucky. My parents were able to feed us, clothe us and take us on exciting holidays and trips around the world. At university on my own, I am lucky enough to have a large student loan/grant and a bursary which allow me to be totally independent and in control of my finances. That stability makes it nearly impossible for me to imagine the hardships that other people around the world have to endure.

That is partially why I want to do this £5 challenge. I want to experience the struggle, but that in itself feels selfish. My £5 is paying only for my food. I don’t have to worry about the rent, or the bills or any of the other additional things that people truly below the poverty line have to find money to afford. My challenge will be no comparison, but I don’t think that is the point. What I am trying to do, along with so many other people, is just raise awareness.

Y Care International works with young people in poverty, helping them to work their way out of these conditions. Young people get a lot of schtick in the press but we are the future and we do have the power to change our lives and the lives of those around us in our communities and across the world. I despair at the state of the world quite a lot, but I am truly optimistic that things can and will change for the better.

I hope that by giving up the luxuries that I see as my necessities, things that I struggle to live without in my privileged life, you might just donate to my fundraising and help to make a difference to the lives of so many others. When there are somehow managing to live on a pound a day, the few pounds that you could donate will make a huge difference to the projects being funded by the ICS partners.

I will be posting daily updates during my challenge so you can read all about it. Thank you. Please donate whatever you can on my fundraising page: www.justgiving.com/nicola-sadler2

A Few Of My Favourite Things…

Firstly, I want to say a big thank you to all my friends and family that donated to my raffle. It raised over £100 which is a huge chunk of my ICS target! There is no rest for the wicked though as I am already planning my next event and it is the kind of thing that everyone likes: watching someone else in misery. You sadists. 

There are a few things I rely on to get me through my days. Without them, I would undoubtedly go insane. So what things make my life easier?

  • Music: I listen to music every day. I like to have it in the background when I’m studying or procrastinating. I listen to it in the morning to kick start my day and then in the evenings to relax after a long day. I rarely go out without my iPod and I don’t think I can actually remember a day in recent years where I’ve not either had my iPod, iTunes or YouTube going at some point.
  • TV and Films: If I’m not listening to music, I probably have the tv on. It’s the same thing, I like background noise and it keeps me calm. I watch my shows pretty obsessively (some more than others) and go to the cinema pretty much every week. 
  • Chocolate: I’m sure you can identify. When you’ve had a bad days all you want is something chocolatey to make it better. My flat mate gave up all chocolate and sweets and pudding for lent this year (it’s been hard on her, especially when she made me a chocolate cake for my birthday and couldn’t have any herself) so I’ve seen how hard going without can be.
  • Food: More generally, knowing what I am going to eat every day is calming to me. I set my weeks out in weekly menus, know exactly what I’m having, when I need to cook it… it’s all a part of my timetable and I find the stability relaxing. 

You can probably guess where this is going. In aid of ICS and Y Care International, I am going to put myself through a personal week of hell where I give up all of these things. The exact week hasn’t been decided but it will probably be the 7-14 May. No music, no tv, no chocolate. Obviously I am not giving up food but my flat mate is going to take over cooking dinner for a week so I have no say in my meals, when we eat or what we have. 

My prediction is that the first day will be okay. I’ll be motivated and good to do it for a great cause. By day two or three, that enthusiasm will have undoubtedly failed. By day four or five, I’ll be so on edge that no one will want to be within a ten mile radius of me for fear that I’ll break. Then when the week is over, I’ll either be dead or victorious and will celebrate with a walk to the cinema, plugged into my iPod, eating chocolate fingers and going home to a meal of my choice. We’ll just have to wait and see but don’t worry; I’ll be documenting it all so you can watch my descent into madness. 

The hope is that you lovely people will see me suffering and donate to my fundraising to make my pain worthwhile. If you don’t, at least I can say I survived a (horrible) week without my favourite things. 

Fundraising Chronicles Vol I

Fundraising is a scary word. At least I think it is, especially when you have such a large target looming over you. I realised yesterday evening that – somewhat scarily – I have spent at least part of every hour of every day for the past few weeks thinking about it.  I mean, that’s great that I’m taking it so seriously but it is starting to mess with my head a little!

As part of ICS, I have to reach a target of £800 to prove that I am dedicated to the project. Along the way, the challenge of raising that much money helps me to learn more about myself, where my skills lie and where they clearly don’t and also spread the word of what is a truly great programme.

At the moment, I am running a raffle. Getting prizes for it was surprisingly easy. People have been so generous and have donated some great prizes after just a short email or message. It really is great. I’ve had people donate alcohol, food vouchers, cinema tickets, paintball vouchers, entrance into clubs… The list is actually pretty long! I’m just trying to get tickets sold at the moment which does mean shamelessly self promo-ing.

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That is probably what I am finding the hardest. Approaching people and asking for donations to the raffle itself was easy. Actually approaching my friends and acquaintances is surprisingly harder. You may have gathered that I am not the most social person and going out of my way to ask for something really is out of my comfort zone. After all, though, that is the whole point of doing this.

What else… You may remember the pictures of us painting bags? We are over half way done now and have a huge range of designs! We’ve done free hand painting, stencils, potato printing… Literally everything. We’ve also managed to make quite a good mess whilst doing it, so nothing new there (at least on my part!). Here are just a few of my favourites so far:

Basically, its busy around here even though term is coming to a close. I’ve still got assessments due but I am counting down the days until we break up because it means I am almost going on holiday! Over Easter I will be relaxing in Marrakesh, trying not to burn and not thinking about anything. No exams. No fundraising. No stress. Then I can come back and dive straight back into everything.  Good luck me!

Anyway, if you want to follow my ICS journey, donate or buy one of my bags, check out my pages.

http://www.facebook.com/NicolaSadlerICS

http://www.justgiving.com/nicola-sadler2

Busy Times Ahead!

It has been a busy week to say the least! I have sent countless emails and messages out to companies asking for donations for my upcoming raffle – people have been overwhelmingly generous in the name of such a great cause. I have been painting my canvas bags which will soon go up for sale to raise funds for ICS and Y Care International. I’ve had labs, assignments, my exam timetable was released, the university concert band had our concert and… do you know, I can’t even remember any more. It has been a long – and yet undeniably quick – week.

I’ve been lucky enough to have the support of my housemates when it has come to painting my canvas bags. You can see some of them modelling our designs in the photo below (not enough hands, so feet were required!). You can also see the mess that I have left, far worse than usual, but I’m sure I’ll eventually get around to tidying up.

In addition to all the actually relatively productive things I have been doing, I’ve also become slightly obsessed with Pretty Little Liars. I should probably have waited until the end of term to start watching it because it is addictive… Netflix is a terrible/wonderful thing.

Really not a lot else to say, I don’t think!  If you haven’t already, please like and share my pages – I’d really appreciate it!

https://www.facebook.com/NicolaSadlerICS

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/nicola-sadler2

Start of a Fantastic new Journey

I know it is late but it’s just such exciting news that I couldn’t wait to let people know. I have been accepted onto the International Citizenship Service programme and have been partnered with Y-Care International.Days of obsessively checking my emails can finally come to an end!

What is ICS? For those of you who don’t know, ICS works with communities that specifically request their help and aims to inspire young people in and out of the UK to become active citizens. I will be volunteering overseas in West Africa over the summer on this amazing programme and I am so excited!

The first part of my challenge is to raise £800 which goes towards the work of Y-Care International and their ICS partners. The money goes towards the overall costs of ICS and ensures that they can continue to send youth volunteers to the developing world. It all makes a real difference in these disadvantaged countries.The programme itself is 90% funded by the Department for International Development (a UK government deparment) and the other 10% is raised by volunteers like me to ensure that it can run in the future. Amazingly, £8million has been raised by ICS volunteers which is insane!

So what will I be doing to fundraise? Among other things, I plan to make some (hopefully) gorgeous canvas bags to sell for funds and do a sponsored week without music (which will undoubtedly lead to a very angsty Nicola – more than normal!) Music is a huge part of my life and I think that, as silly as it may sound, giving up my iPod, record player, radio and youtube for a week will almost certainly kill me. Anyone that knows me will certainly vouch for how hard that will be for me but really you should be feeling sorry for the people that are going to have to be around me that week. Other than that, we will see what happens!

Honestly, anything you can donate will make a huge difference to the lives of people living in the disadvantaged countries that ICS works with. If you want to donate to my page you can find it here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/nicola-sadler2

I will be sharing my journey on this blog so please stay tuned for (many) updates and any support you can give will be so greatly received. Good night!

Umm… March?!

So it occurred to me the other day that I kind of forgot to put up the recipe of the month for February. What can I say, it’s been busy around here! I promise that by next week I will have the recipe written up, you’ll just have to wait a little longer!

This last week has been a really busy one! On Tuesday I went into London for my ICS-Y Care International assessment day. I’ll tell you what; I check my emails pretty obsessively anyway but the last few days have been madness. I keep refreshing every time I look at my phone (we’re talking multiple times an hour!) and I think as with so many matters the wait to hear something back is the worse part of anything!

On Thursday, I took part in a 12 hour read-a-thon in aid of Give A Book for World Book Day. I dressed up as supervillain Poison Ivy (the looks I got when I got on the bus were amazing!) and stood around reading Richelle Mead’s Frostbite for hours. I think I was reading out loud for about 7 hours in total (and proudly managed to get all the way through the book – hence why I look so tired by the end!). We had readings by our university Hogwarts and Poetry societies too, which meant we got to have a little break to eat dinner! It was a great day and there was so much support for everyone that took part. It is amazing to see sometimes that people you don’t know get behind you on a cause. We don’t know how much we raised in total yet, but we are estimating between £400-£500! Such a worthwhile day!

Those were understandably the highlights of my week. What else is there to say? Not all that much! My menu this week has been pretty simple:

  • Sunday: Stir Fry
  • Sunday: Lentil, sweet potato, carrot dahl/tagine thing
  • Monday: Bulgogi style pork
  • Tuesday: (microwave) Curry and rice (I am so ashamed to have succumbed to the minute and half microwave dinner but it had been a long day….)
  • Wednesday: Sausages, roast potatoes, veg, yorkshire pudding
  • Thursday: Pulled pork and burger with curly fries and coleslaw (it was yummy!!)
  • Friday:Kung Pao Chicken