Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Do you shop?

There are some pretty exciting things happening in life right now... despite TOO many things happening in life, I know that everything is just rolling along at a decent pace, that this feeling of having too much stuff to do will not last forever, and that right now it is essential.  It is just CRAZY how different everything feels from being in Malawi.

but, one of the things about being in Malawi, is being able to be involved in amazing causes.  This past weekend, I met with a few people about WHEAMS, and the process of making WHEAMS a canadian charitable organization.  Also about what our roles are probably going to be, in taking up this initiative.  folks, you may be taking to a co-chair of WHEAMS in Canada.  woooooOOOOOoooooo!  So, one of the things that will consistently be on my mind, is how can I help to raise money for the fantastic work that is being done? And, this is one thing that can happen.

do you shop?  for food, for groceries, for gifts, for clothes, for accessories, for music, for underwear, for toiletries?  My guess is yes.  so, why don't you shop, while giving to a good cause?!?!  If you would love to do that, get the information by just scrolling down!
Buy Budget Cards, Shop with Budget Cards! 
Contribute to Development in Malawi!

Every year it becomes harder for groups like ours to raise money for our important goals.  Finding an easy and effective way to fundraise is often the difference between success and failure.  That is why we have chosen FundScript and we are inviting you to help. 

Fundsrip is an online fundraising program that asks you to pay for your everyday purchases with gift (or budget) cards brought through the FundScrip website;  a percentage of the cards that you purchase is then donated to our group.

This means that just by paying for your groceries, gas, and other household items with budget cards, you can easily help generate much needed funds to help WHEAMS projects in Malawi.
  • it doesn't cost you anything extra
  • you don't have to change what you shop or what you buy
  • your every day purchases add up to make a difference very quickly!
How does it work?  All the information that you need can be found by clicking on these words.
To start supporting our group, and register as a member (to make regular orders), please click on these words!    The invitation code for our group is 52WBGN

Thank You for taking the time to read this message!  We really appreciate your help (and if you might re-blog, re-tweet, or share the message on facebook/google plus) in helping us raise funds for what we believe is a sustainable and important project!

Please feel free to email me at, or the other co-chair of WHEAMS Canada, Liz Johnstone at, if you want to learn more about why we are raising money for WHEAMS through St. Stephens Anglican Church, or have any questions about FundScrip.

Warm Regards,
Liz Johnstone and Amelia Payne

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


I have been back in Montreal since Friday the 6th.   And, in many ways, it actually feels really good to be back.  Which, I know, might be shocking to you!  the first few days didn't feel good... I missed the boy I like love, it is fricken cold here, conversations that i was having were somewhat frustrating, and I was just wanting to be half way around the world again.  but, things have been going on an upward swing, which is a relief.

In the past couple days, I have had great conversations that have just hit the spot.  You know those conversations... the ones that allow you to reflect on the past, and get prepared for the future.

I am sub-letting a room for 4 months, with two beautiful girls, L and R.  And, to tell you the truth, it is a big risk (for both them and me) to sub-lease to someone they have never met... no matter how much you exchange via email and "social media" you truely cannot know someone until you meet them face to face.  The other night, R and I sat for 4 hours talking about life, and relationship, and moving forward, and past experiences, and common things that we relate on.  To me what was the most wonderful about this conversation was not only did I get to know my new roommate more, and share about myself, but also, it reminded me about how grateful I am for the relationships that I have had, and do have in my life.
it reminded me that the people I have met in the past can play a part in my life today, but the people that are here now are SO PERFECT for me... the person i have in my life right now is so perfect for me.  and it is so good to know that, and to feel that.  it really gives me the warm fuzzies, and butterflies in my stomach to think about how much i love that person.

Last night, I got to go out with the girls from the global health stream...  The 5 of us have been "abroad" (Thailand, Tanzania, Montreal, Rapid Lake, and Malawi) for last semester.  ANd, we have each had such unique experiences.  and, as we sat last night talking over mussels and wine, it just struck me about what an amazing opportunity we were given.  It hit me, how there is rarely the chance that you are going to have a conversation about having lunch with people who use the sex trade, or about public health campaigns on male circumcision, or about corruption and black market trade occurring on a day-to-day basis, or about common goals and desires that people in the world have, or about the horrendous living situations that many Canadian Aboriginal populations live in... those conversations just don't happen on a day-to-day basis here in Canada.

what a moment to sigh out.  what a moment to be so grateful for what I have experienced, and been given.  What a moment to be thankful about the moments that other people have experienced.  it is just so refreshing to talk

So, with an attempt to not go on forever, I want to say 3 things that I am anticipating for the future, and 3 things that thankful from that have happened in the past.

5 thankful things for the future:
1)  This boy.  and the delight of knowing that we will be witnesses to each other's lives. and how we are going to live and work in vancouver, and build a life together, and the possibilites that all of that means.  calling someone and someplace, home.
2)  Big goals for Triathlon for the next 1.5 years.  Goals that include NOLA 70.3 in April.  And desires to quality for Vegas.  And do the big dance at Ironman Canada in August 2013.

3)  Dedicating time and effort and vision to Warm Heart Missions, a grassroot Malawian educational and medical non-profit organization that I just LOVE.  

5 things thankful from the past:
1)  Despite it being one of the hardest hikes I have done in a really long time... Hiking from the Mushroom Farm, close to Livingstonia, up across the Nyika Plateau to Chelinda Camp, and a wild truck ride down to Rumphi.  And getting my feet the dirtiest I have ever had them.  

2) Past relationships with guys that (in the good and bad) I have learnt from, grown from, and moved forward from.  

3) Rowing in west virginia, and the lessons I learnt for life and for sport.  THe friendships I build with women that I love to this day, and the delight of being paid to do a sport that I love.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Some lessons learnt in Malawi

Lessons learnt
1)    Lack of human resources plays a major role in care provision
a.     RNs are stretched between care and administration roles
b.     Students are not adequately supervised
c.     Care is brief, with basic skills sometimes being missed (i.e. vital signs), or others done without thinking about why (i.e. medications)
d.     Nurses are being called back after long locums, and this results in lack of skills
2)    Role of a nurse
a.     Possibly still viewed as a “physicians assistant?”
b.     Advanced clinical nurses are rare, and severely needed.
c.     Quality interdisciplinary dialogue is lacking.
d.     Spiritual care is culturally appropriate, and given more readily.
3)    Death is dealt with differently than in Western cultures/hospitals
a.     Nurses may not want to be associate with it, and this may cause withdrawal of care (both technical and emotional) when death is near
b.     Due to limited resources, interventions are specifically determined by prognosis of the pt.
c.     Different coping methods for families (more wailing and crying, often will not be together initially)
d.     Improved communication between departments may reduce deaths
4)    Limited human resources
a.     Essential need to ensure what you have is working, and readily available.
b.     Be creative!

1)    Don’t expect that your project will happen quickly.
2)    Communicate frequently, early, and clearly (often brief, in emails).  Also communicate if things change, to everyone involved
3)    Ethics:
a.     What we may view as Major changes/recommendations are viewed as minor;  virtually everyone will get major feed back.  Be prepared for it, and submit ASAP to COMREC.

b.    Use the human resources who are familiar with the process; take time to sit down, discuss, ask questions, and go over the proposal.
4)    Research your interests.  It makes it more manageable and exciting.
5)    Work will progress from feeling like nothing is happening, to everything happening at once. 
6)    The more specific the document, the better.   Language use is slightly different between Malawi and Canada.

1)    Malawians are a (in general) reserved culture, as compared to other African nations that I have gone to.  Despite being outgoing and exceptionally friendly, they are also quite introverted.
2)    Being more specific in communication, the better.  Don’t ask “when,” because they probably won’t know (or will give you a “soon.”).  Ask “will this happen in 15 minutes, 1 hour, or 3 days?”
3)    Email contact is fine.  Keep it brief, and specific. Phone is better.  Make sure you greet the person, before going into a request.   Personal contact is best. Don’t worry about just going and knocking on a door, even with no meeting… it’s not considered rude;  however, do be prepared for people not to be there when you expect them to be there, or, expect that they may tell you to come back at a later time, if not convenient.  Do ask if it is a convenient time.
4)    In general, the water is fine to drink from the tap.  Do take a prophylaxis for parasites (praziquantil) if you have swam in the lake, before you go home.  Buy it in Malawi for very cheap.
5)    Meet as many Malawians from different scenarios as possible.  Be willing to explore, and have conversations with strangers.  Normally, there is no risk.  Sometimes, you will meet people who you are uncomfortable with, but, let down your cultural safe-guard.
6)    Ex-pats are an interesting community~ some are super great quality, and worth being involved with.  Others are quite exclusive and “cliquey.” But, ex-pats play a large part in overseas cultures… they will teach you interesting lessons, and allow you to have quality inner dialogue.
7)    Speak slowly, and clearly.  Take time to listen.  Take time to joke.  Take time to share your own culture, and your own photos from home.  Talk about your family.  Relax.  Remember that stressing doesn’t solve much in Malawi. 
8)    The more involved in different activities that you are, the better your time will be.  It is the days that you do nothing, where you start feeling lonely, sad, and downcast.  Even if it just means getting out on those days to go buy fruit~  it will make you feel better, and will probably give you something to talk about when you get home.
9)    Remember to keep your eyes open.  Every day, there will be something that makes you laugh, or something that you can reflect upon, or something that becomes “normal” even though you would never see it in Canada.
10) The landscape of Malawi is more than worth exploring.  Get out.  Do not stay in the cities.  Get into the country side, and prepare to have your mind blown by the beauty.
11) It’s ok to spend “a little money” on things which are enjoyable.  Just remember that your life should change when you are abroad, and that the luxuries that you have at home, should not be the luxuries that you have abroad, when the people around you have very little.
12) It’s ok not to give money to everyone who asks.  Figure out what you want to support, and stick to that.  Be firm when saying no.  But, do try to work with someone to find alternatives.  Teach life skills (i.e. business plans, or money management) instead.  Hire people to do little tasks for you (like washing your laundry, or guiding you on a hike).

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Happy New Year!

HURRAH!  IT IS 2012!

I celebrated the new year by taking a ferry on New Year's eve, from Victoria to Vancouver (i know, amazing, right?  but... it was only 5% full, which is shocking...).  I have been in Van-city since then, and will be returning to montreal on Friday.  

Coming back to canada has been better than I thought it would go.  Only about 2 break-down-and-cry moments.  I think, that the reason why it has been easier than planned is that I have been able to spend time with my beloved, and also his family~  his parents live part time in Laos, which makes talking about international-work & living & differences in cultural aspects very easy.  nice to transition with. 

also, it has been filled with fun things.  Like going to the Kinsol Trestle.   and going on my first bike ride since august 20th (um... can we say sore butt and legs and back and hands?).  and drinking good coffee and wine and ciders, and eating good food.  watching movies (um, hello watching the complete LOTR extended version trilogy). So.... NO complaining.  and... boy, does it feel good to be in vancouver.  to reconnect with my friends, to know that it is not going to be ridiculously cold, go to my home church, be familiar with what to do and where to go.  sigh.  i do love this city.  and, I am glad to call it my canadian home. 

I am filled with HUGE anticipation for the new year.  Things that I know it will include:

  1. graduation from my M.Sc (A) in Nursing.
  2. Moving back to Vancouver permanently
  3. A wedding
  4. A honeymoon
  5. Finding a nursing job
And, even with those things happening, I hope there will be one or two more things that might happen:
  1. qualification for 70.3 worlds, and movement towards 5hrs for the 1/2 iron distance
  2. moving into a house/condo/basement suite ;) that can be called "ours" and home.
  3. loss of 15 lbs (to help with goal #1)
  4. helping in the steps towards the establishment of being a "official Canadian not-for-profit" for Warm Heart Missions, in Malawi. 

and for now...  I think that is pretty good.  I can't wait for this year.  life is rolling along, and it is rolling along very quickly!