Mask-up, Make-up

 
I started writing this after the first week of travelling. It’s just a rant about makeup and beauty standards and stuff. Enjoy xx
 
‘I have always worn a lot of make up, even when I don't leave the house, or just pop to the shops. I don't really have a lot of confidence in my natural complexion and never have done. But I thought to myself that travelling the world on my own, out of the everyday experiences and people would be the perfect time to go barefaced and see if I could handle it and see if it would help my skin at all.
 
The first week I was with my project group in Thailand. I only brought foundation and mascara out of all my thousands of makeup products. I still wore it though. I didn't and still don't really have the confidence not to wear it. I suppose I wanted to make a good first impression, I don't really know why, because there was no one there that I wanted to impress. After the first few days though I did stop. No one else there was wearing make up and they still seemed to be getting on fine…
 
So since then I haven't worn any, not at all, even when I was going to new towns and meeting new people. And I haven't been treated any differently. I thought that my difference in complexion would make a difference to how people treated me. But can you blame me? We are brought up in a world where we are taught how important first impressions and appearances are. Is it really that surprising that I feel I would be judged for revealing my natural complexion which I feel is so much worse to look at than the skin that the world sees when I cover up every day. I feel that people will judge me, think worse of me, if I have a bad complexion. Also I feel that the longer that that person has known me with the full face of make up, how badly will they judge me if they see my ‘true skin’.
I know this all sounds dramatic and making me sound like my complexion is absolutely horrendous but its how I have been made to think. And is it really surprising as I’m currently sitting in this airport looking at the rolling adverts promising perfect skin, beauty and acceptance and sexual desirability if you buy x y and z.
 
I would like to get to a place in my life where I feel like I could feel confident to go out without all my make up, where I feel like I would not be judged for not having perfect skin, but I'm not there yet, maybe one day but we'll see.’
 
Soo back from travelling…and back to wearing a full face of make-up. It was weird. I feel like I’m taking better care of my skin now and wanting to use more natural products on my skin and stuff. Just to clarify, my skin isn’t like something out of a horror film, like I said it’s just how I’d been made to think it was and get upset thinking about it. I just felt like I needed to get off my chest how unfair I think it is that our society makes us feel this way and is so hypocritical that it promotes ‘naturalness’ but the standard of ‘natural beauty’ is literally unattainable if you’re not going to wear makeup. Like, wtf. So after many ramblings, just do whatever makes you happy and fuck what everyone else says and thinks. If you’re happy with no makeup, don’t feel like others will judge you for not wearing it. If you’re not happy without make up, then wear it, no biggie.
 

World Literacy Foundation – tackling illiteracy in Uganda

Right now, in this day and age:
20 million classrooms lack basic educational resources.
In Africa, 11 million children leave school without completing basic primary education.
In 2010, 61 million primary school age children were not enrolled.
59 million children cannot read, write, or do basic maths.
1.2 billion children have little or no access to basic learning resources, electricity or internet.
1 out of 5 people in the world cannot read or write.

This post is going to be slightly different to usual. Today I’m going to shamelessly talk about this charity I work for that is battling all of those statistics that I just listed; the World Literacy Foundation.

This year 100% of the money raised for them will go to the Sun Book Tablet project currently running in Northern Uganda where there is the highest poverty and illiteracy rate in the country. The Sun Book tablet is an innovative, low-cost, solar powered, tablet with pre-loaded educational content. It contains hundreds of books, learning applications, lessons plans, student assessments and many other interactive tools. Powered with solar chargers and pre-loaded with educational content, the Sun Book tablet has been designed and tailored to meet the needs of classrooms in “off the grid” settings that lack electricity and the Internet. The Sun Book tablet aims to provide the most enriching and empowering learning experiences to children in off the grid environments. Greater access to quality education provided by the Sun Book tablet provides beneficiaries with an opportunity to acquire the literacy and numeracy skills needed to succeed in school, enhance social inclusion, secure employment and ultimately bring themselves, family, community and country out of poverty.

Apart from the obvious benefits of curing illiteracy, there are many others. For example it will be able to promote gender equality, improve health, increase employment, reduce poverty and create a whole new future for these children.

Gender Equality
It is undeniable that education helps to tackle the issue of gender discrimination, and it promotes changing attitudes in young children and lead to equal opportunities and benefits for both men and women. Literacy practices enhance gender equality and empower both men and women to empower one another.

Improved Health
Literacy significantly enhances a person’s ability to understand, apply and access health-related information. In impoverished communities, mortality rates for young children under five-years-old are considerably lower when literacy rates are prevalent. Literacy leads to an increased awareness of disease and a stronger initiative to seek quality healthcare for their family and community.

Employment Opportunities
Literacy significantly correlates with employment, and as reading and writing are vital skills in the search for meaningful employment, it is a necessary that we continue to promote the importance of education around the world. Literate individuals are able to access to a wider range of career choices, and are more likely to champion for equal pay and fair work rights for themselves and their family.

Reduced Poverty
Literacy allows children, communities and countries to lift themselves out of poverty. Those who live with high literacy skills are likely to have access to employment and break the intergenerational cycle of poverty. When children feel empowered through literacy, they will empower the wider community and bring around real change in the world.

A Whole New Future
Through literacy, a child can create a new future. They are able to fulfil their potential and achieve their biggest dreams. When a child is empowered through literacy, they enrich the lives of their family, community and nation.

As I have explored in previous posts, I have a great passion for literature and think that it’s a huge injustice that there are those who cannot read and therefore miss out of all the benefits of literature. This is me trying to tell you about the gravity of the problem and to a lesser extent letting you know that you can help my donating to my crowdfunding page here.

https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com:443/world-literacy-foundation?utm_id=63

(In the interest of copyright a lot of this information has been given to me by the WLF charity itself and I’m just sharing with you what they’ve shared with me.)

Travelling alone, what people don’t tell you. 

Travelling alone according to every millennial article you will read will, is supposed to be the most amazing, perfect and life changing experience of your life. Whenever I asked people what it was like to travel alone, they never hinted that there was any down side.The truth is, it is amazing, it is life changing but it is far from perfect.When travelling alone, I was confronted with something that I’ve never had to face before and that was being alone. Like really being alone and isolated. Before I went away, when I was at uni, if I came home to an empty house where all my housemates were out, I’d get really down and lonely, even if it was for just a few hours. And if you’re like me and get lonely like that, odds on you’ll find this whole new level of loneliness really hard. Some people are ok with that but personally I’ve never been very good at spending lots of time by myself.

People would ask me if I ever got lonely when travelling and the truth is of course I did. Especially when there was a night or so when there was a few nights and I ended up being in a room on my own for various reasons. You don’t have your friends, family and support network right beside you like you normally do. You have your phone sure but with time difference and stuff that’s not always gonna work out well.

A lot of the time I felt like I didn’t have a ‘safe place’ to run to when it all got a bit much and have no shoulder to cry on. But as a friend told me, you have to make ‘yourself’ your own safe place. Easier said than done, especially when you’re in a scary place but true all the same. It took a while but I think I did it. You have to be ok with being on your own and be less dependent on the company of others. And you have to be able to be friends with yourself and be able to enjoy your own company.

One of the biggest things I was faced with was making all the decisions. More importantly, if something went wrong, it was all on me. I would have to find a solution and fix it. It was scary but you know, it forced me to grow up and take responsibility.

I made to be ok with actually spending time by myself, it was really hard at first but it got easier. When I wrote the first draft of this, I was chilling in a restaurant, eating, drinking and writing this by myself, which I know a lot of people do but I’ve never been very comfortable with it, and I was totally fine, I didn’t mind it at all.

If given the choice I would always choose to spend a night with friends than alone and I think I will always be that way. However I think the crucial element here is that there will be some times that you will be alone.You won’t always be fortunate to spend all your free time with loved ones, you will spend some days alone.

I know I’m making travelling alone sound less than appealing but it really wasn’t. Travelling alone forced you to make lots of friends which I wouldn’t have done so eagerly otherwise and made a lot of closer friendships. I learned a lot about myself and gained a lot of independence. But I’m not gonna ramble on about all the benefits of it because you can find them everywhere. It was amazing, it really was, I’m just trying to tell you what everyone else seems to be avoiding.

‘So brown and so happy’ – my grans description of me travelling, May 2017

So after 3 countries, 13 flights, 19 airports, god knows how many beds/places I’ve fallen asleep, countless memories and laughter and just a few tears my travelling time came to an end. Today marks one month since my return to England and this post seems to be coming late but it took a lot of time everything sink in. This post is going to be relatively short but I just want to put an appreciation post out there about my experiences.

I know how ridiculously lucky I am. I know that I have had a once in a life time unbelievable experience. My heart is so full and I am so grateful for everything that I have done. I don’t want anyone to think for a second that I have taken all of this for granted. The experiences I’ve had have been absolutely incredible. They have changed my perspective on things and made me look at life differently. I can honestly say that I have returned from this trip a different person. I know that a cliché thing to say but seriously, it would be weird if all these crazy experiences, travelling alone, volunteering and meeting so many different amazing people hadn’t changed me! I am the happiest I’ve ever been. I have a clearer picture of what I want and what I want to achieve but I also have learnt to enjoy everything in the moment, not always being like, oh, I can’t wait for this part of my life to start. Of course, I still look forward to stuff and get excited about the future but definitely not overlook what’s going on around me now. I used to panic about absolutely everything but now, I’m a lot calmer and I deal with problems a lot better. I also like to believe I’ve become more compassionate and more understanding towards others and empathise with their problems more. But also I have learnt that it is ok to be selfish sometimes and to take time to look after myself, which was never really a priority for me before.

But I wouldn’t have been able to have any of these experiences or grow as a person at all if it weren’t for all of the incredible people that I met along the way. You made it what it was and, I want to thank each and every one of you. My heart is so full and I am so grateful. From my volunteering buddies who I got extremely close to even after a few days, I will never forget, to the guys I met in hostels all over Australia, to people I met on tours, trips, even the people who helped me when I was lost and didn’t even know their names. Thank you to all of you. There is so much love in this world and travellers share the most of it. Everyone wants to help each other, even though everyone’s in the same boat of poor-ness and worry. You guys are some of the best people I have ever met and the people who have the most love in their hearts. I love you all.

From Broome to Darwin, exploring the Northern Territory 

Picking up where I left off last week, and carrying on my Australian adventure; when my time in Perth was over I headed to Broome, which honestly, was great but so tiny. I only spent two nights there and that was enough. I did go to the world oldest open air cinema, something that I’d always wanted to do which was great. The building was still all original and it had the original style deckchairs and I watched ‘Beauty and the Beast’ under the stars. The town was cute, there and some shops and a few small independent art galleries in which the artists were still doing their work. I love exploring new artists and supporting them. And I saw the most incredible sunset. I was to see many sunsets and sunrises in my time travelling but honestly, this one was by far the best. The sky was perfectly clear and there were about five or six colours streaked across it, and then came my absolute favourite time of night, when you can still see part of the sunset on the horizon but the sky has also started to blacken and the stars have begun to come out. Honestly, beautiful. The friends I made there were the best. Took me under their wing the first hour I got there and essentially looked after me haha. Took me round places with them in their van, we had BBQs. Watched sunsets, had drinks and made friends for life. It was fantastic.After that I went to Darwin. Well, that was crazy. I of course, checked into the main party hostel and was so happy I did. Within 2 hours of landing, I was drunk of my ass with a group of crazy girls I’ve never met before and had the time of my life. They were mad and I had so much fun, spent a lot of money and got wasted. But the guys I met did this every night, and a lot of them were on working holiday visas. To me it looked like a working holiday visa was working shit jobs, for shit money, to spend it all on alcohol, to be hungover in bed that day, to go to back to work, to do it all again. I asked some of them how long they’d been in Australia and some answered about six months. I said, oh how much travelling have you done? They would reply none because they haven’t got any money, even though they work everyday. It all went on alcohol. $9 a shot. It made me see that I would probably never do a working holiday but I would just go back to do a tourist visa like I did before. I’m sure there are loads that love it and that a working holiday visa is something that would be perfect for them but just not for me. It seemed like it was not all the Australian traveller dream is cracked up to be!

Anyway, I had a great time in Darwin, there’s quite a bit to do! I went to the Litchfield National Park which was incredible, I love getting into nature and exploring new places so this was definitely one of my favourite things to do! I swam in waterfalls and explored new nature, I loved it. I went on a jumping crocodile tour and they leaped out of the water and wiggled like a salmon to get the meat which was awesome. I also swam with a crocodile which was absolutely terrifying but ya know, when in Rome! That was actually my attitude to pretty much everything that I saw the opportunity to do. If I was ever on the fence about doing something, I was like, when am I going to be here again and have this opportunity. Made me do things I’m not sure I’d have done otherwise!

Bit of a short one but next time will be the beginning of my East Coast adventure when my bestie came out to join me so watch this space!

 

 

More adventures, this time in Perth

So, I’ve been back from travelling for just over 2 weeks now, (crazy I know) and I thought it was high time that I did a blog post considering I’ve been highly neglecting it all throughout Australia…Firstly, I want to say how amazing this time has been, but you will know that if you have spoken to me at all or seen any of my many many many many many many Instagram/Facebook posts (sorry for the spam…). The first thing that people always ask me is; what was the best thing you did? I say it’s impossible to answer because basically everything I did was incredible. There was no, one thing that stood out from all the rest.

However, if we’re considering which cultural experience was best, obviously the culture difference between home and Australia was marginal compared to the difference between here and India and Thailand (but I’ve already covered my experiences there in previous posts). So culturally, it was those countries that were the better experience, however, I didn’t go to Australia for the culture, I went for the weather, the nature, the sights and the fun! But actually, every culture is at least a little bit different. The history obviously and the history of the aboriginals was super interesting and just even the ways that people from the UK and people from Australia behaved, although still both Western behaviour was sometimes quite different. One thing I did notice was that people were so much friendlier, everywhere, the bus drivers were helpful, the shop assistants and bar keeps served you with a smile; it was like they were actually happy to work! It was so refreshing and I absolutely loved it. I’m putting it down to the vitamin D from all the sun that they get but that’s just a theory! And also everyone in Australia seemed perfectly ok with using very strong language to talk to their mates… calling each other c*nts and such like… and they shorten everything. Literally everything that’s more than one syllable; it’s really quite amusing.

Anyway, I was lucky enough to explore lots of Australia. First I spent 3 weeks in Perth and the surrounding areas, staying with my godparents and them being my personal tour guides, which I am extremely grateful for! I was looked after in a sense which was very much welcomed after being essentially completely on my own in India and Thailand. It was great spending time with that part of my family that I hadn’t seen in about ten years. It was just like a little slice of home and after the hustle and bustle and stress and everything from India especially it was so nice to relax a bit. It was like a big sigh of relief when I stepped off the plane and didn’t feel on edge that I was going to be stared at for my clothing choices, speaking of which I had to make a quick trip to target to buy some more clothes because I only had one pair of shorts!

I had so many different and wonderful experiences when I was in Perth. As soon as my godfather collected me from the airport he took me to see some wild kangaroos which I got waaay too overexcited about! After that there was wineries and wine tasting, there were chocolate factories, there was camping, there were zoos, aquariums, lots of amazing food and drinks, there was sun, there was sunburn, there was beaches there was snorkelling, which by the way, is my new favourite thing I absolutely love it. I just kept thinking how lucky my godparents were that they were able to go to the beach whenever they wanted and do fun stuff there and water sports and diving etc. When we have a sunny day our options are pub or a walk… When I’d visited my first Australian beach, we had a shark warning and someone pulled a snake out of a rock, first and only wild snake that I was to see in Australia actually, all within the space of five minutes and it did kinda freak me out I must admit! I went swimming with dolphins too which had been on my bucket list since I was about ten! It was so incredible and when you put your head under the water you could hear them speaking to each other and the different noises they were making and I got so excited I accidentally inhaled a load of seawater into my snorkel…

I (obviously) think Perth is a lovely place but somewhere that you want to live and spend time properly, not to backpack. I still had an incredible time but I think that was because I had my godparents showing me round and they had a car so they could take me to places that were a little bit further out. I still felt at this point that I hadn’t done proper ‘backpacking’ yet which was why I was sooo super excited for the next part of my adventure which would be hostels and no hand holding! I’m going to leave you with this for now before I bore you all to death but my next post will be up shortly about the next part of my time in Aus! Until then, adventurers!

Better late than never – the effect of India

Well I suppose this post comes better late than never! I left India just over two weeks ago and once again I had an incredible experience.  

My experience this time was similar to Thailand but not the same, similar in the craziness! The whole world of India seemed mad, the driving, the hustle and bustle, the shops, the streets, the animals on the streets, the noise! It was all so disorientating. But I suppose that’s one the parts of the culture, you’re just thrown into this world of chaos and everyone around you thinks it’s normal haha. 

The traffic and roads alone were absolutely mental, the driver of the taxi I got from the airport was laughing his head off as I was holding on for dear life in his car. The Tuk tuk rides were quite terrifying until you’d gotten used to them as well. No belts, no road safety it seemed, the drivers getting so close to people and cars I feared for everyone’s safety, at some points holding on for dear life! And then there’s the drivers themselves. Most of them were ok but especially if you were on your own, they took you to shops and tried to make you go inside which I hated an refused to do. Turns out it’s a government scheme thing and they get stamped every time they get someone to go into these shops and it means they can get money from the government from what I could gather. When I actually spoke to my driver about it properly it seemed they knew how annoying it was for people and they didn’t like doing it but they kind of have to. In the end, he took me to 2 shops and gave me a free ride. I get why they do it but it’s so goddamn annoying. 

Also, bit of advice: agree a price for your destination before leaving or they’ll get there and try and charge you a lot more.

Another thing that I found mad was how cheap everything was! I exchanged what was left of my Thai money when I got to the airport and they laughed at me coz the amount I got in rupees was so little, even though it was over 1,000! When shopping for stuff everything was mad cheap as well, I’m talking like 10p for a big bottle of water! If I went for a nice meal, plus drinks and sides, it would only cost the equivalent of a fiver but even that was expensive!  

The shops themselves were cute, ‘authentic’ you could say with lots of unique trinkets and handmade crafts and stuff which are my absolute favourite type of shop and I spent farrrrr too much money. Although a major drawback of a lot of these shops and walking found the town in general, you were followed around and pretty much harassed. However much I enjoyed my time in India, I’d had enough by the time I’d left. I’d spent so long on edge all the time, I wanted to feel comfortable leaving the hotel or walking round by myself again.  

I never really felt relaxed, you had to be on your guard all the time for people always wanted to talk to you, get you into their shop, sell you things, when all you wanted to do was be alone. It didn’t help that everyone had been warning me how much of a target and be and to be really careful and it didn’t help that I got stares everywhere I went. As well as this we were told not to talk to guys too much, even if they were just trying to give you directions or something as they might mistake polite conversation for something else so it was hard to even have a civil convo with someone. You just know how different the attitudes towards women are etc and you don’t know what their intentions are. I’m not trying to put off anyone who wants to go, I’m really not but be prepared, if you do go you’ll get a lot of attention. I would’ve enjoyed it a lot more if I could have relaxed even walking down the street
.

Two of biggest biggest cultural influences I saw where the art and the Ayurvedic medicine. While I was there the Cochin Biennale was running and it was incredible. It was a huge art expedition that ran over the whole city featuring artists from all over the world with pieces from all mediums that really stretched what art was. It was great and it really made you think about what the piece was saying and controversial pieces made you question convention, as I suppose art is supposed to do. Check out my instagram page for pictures of my favourite pieces. https://www.instagram.com/brybabes1/?hl=en brybabes 1 Instagram 

As for Ayurveda medicine, I found it so interesting. The core belief of Ayurveda is that health and wellness depend on a delicate balance between the mind, body, and spirit. They use natural products in their treatments as it is believed that nature provides the all the remedies that we need and using these natural things on your body is better than manufactured chemicals and also is much better for the environment. It was just a really interesting window to explore and has made me begin to use all natural cosmetic and face care products and so far it’s going really well. 

Now onto the actual volunteering part. I volunteered with the same company that I did with in Thailand (GVI). The work that I had to do this time was a lot harder and a lot more rewarding. The main project I was on was teaching young underprivileged children English (as best I could!) It was a super emotional roller coaster of a time, I was crying pretty much every day. These kids who have so little, are so eager to learn and and embrace life, compared to some of the kids that we have at home who care so little about their education and don’t realise how much they have. You can literally see the difference that you’re making on the faces of these children, made me sooooo emotional.

It wasn’t just the school, we also helped at a homeless residence where most of the people who were brought there were either physically or mentally disabled. The joy we saw on their faces when we came was unforgettable. One week we got the music going and the microphone working and we had a loud disco and they were all singing and dancing and it was amazing. It made me think why couldn’t we have something like this at home, something this good. 

We also helped out at the girls orphanage once a week, helping with homework and playing games and all they wanted was love. That’s literally all they wanted and it was heartbreaking. We were told not to get too close, not to hug them and hold their hands because if they get attached to you and you leave then that’s gonna hurt them. 

This place really made me want to make as much of a big difference in this world that I can. This organisation and experience shows how much of a difference we can make if we all join together. Because of everyone who volunteered, we have helped and made the lives better for an entire community. It wasn’t just the projects that I was working on either, there were other projects in progress as well, like construction which, at the time I was there, was helping building a toilet block for one of the schools, a facility they did not have before the volunteers got there. And the health project which worked with a special school, as they call it, a school especially for those who are mentally or physically disabled. There was also the women’s empowerment project which was incredible and I was lucky enough to briefly park take in the rally on International women’s day. This project is so important to these women. They are not treated the same in the U.K., a lot of them don’t know their rights, they need help, and they are getting it. 

Lastly and maybe most importantly, I need to mention the people that I’ve met. I’ll never forget you guys, you made the experience what it was. I’m so lucky and so glad to have met you all, you are all such amazing people who’ve done such incredible things and I love you all for that. And now I have a reason to visit a lot of you abroad 😉 

This place and these people has made me want to do a lot more, anything I can in fact to help people, it’s so unbelievably important.  

Next it’ll be about my Aussie adventures, until then, peace out xx