Monthly Archives: July 2017


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What would you like to be when you grow up? Do you remember the question?  All the answers we gave as children always saw us thinking of ourselves as successful high-flying achievers. One of the things no one imagined was the possibility of things playing out differently. Unfortunately, even with perfect planning, the uncertainty of ill-health sometimes rears its ugly head striking us or sometimes our loved ones down. In some families, the ill-health of a loved one does not come without demands. These demands are mostly down to the constraints imposed on the family’s financial, emotional and even mental abilities. Coping despite these new stresses can be almost impossible. Sometimes the illness of the child means that the current home may become unsuitable. It is very heartbreaking for a family home to be assessed as unsuitable for the child . It can leave the family members especially the main carer feeling helpless and inadequate in this regard. Some parents can be left feeling like they have failed in their duty of providing a safe place for their child to live in. Some have gone on to have a resentment towards the Health Care Professionals (HCPs) who make this assessment. These feelings are quite common but it’s important not to see these HCPs as enemies but as people who have stepped in to support the family. Many families find in the course of caring for their loved one that their current living arrangements may need to change. Homes may need to be redesigned to accommodate equipment like wheelchairs as the mobility needs of the sick child deteriorates. Some families may need more space to accommodate specialist equipment in addition to existing ones in the home. Endless reasons abound why formerly comfortable and cosy living arrangements may become inadequate. Moving house can sometimes be the inevitable option for a family. It is a difficult decision to take and carry out. Housing can be a very personal and emotional subject for most families. A house over time becomes a home, a haven and safe place where most family memories are created. The prospect is even made harder for a family with a sick child to contemplate. For this category of families, moving house not only entails the actual house “move” but also means that the services that support the family may have to “move” as well. The structures that have become part and parcel of the family’s coping mechanism may have to change. When there is severe illness in the home, support although readily available may be inaccessible to the family for reasons such as lack of information, time or a simple dis-interest. Over time as the family becomes even more pressured, they begin to become more aware of support structures and gradually access them. Accessing support requires time, patience and adjustment. It is hard to accept the interference of other parties in the home however well intended. Once accepted, families begin to adapt to their new routine and fit in this support into their daily routines to the point of comfort. This leads to a smooth flow of seamless support from the community to the home. When house moves occur, structures which are mainly tailored to suit the family’s peculiar needs may become altered, irreplaceable or totally lost. The prospect of this change can put a family off from taking the next step in accessing more adequate accommodation. Some families are lucky enough to find suitable housing within the same locality. For those who have to move far away, the case is totally different and adds to the already stressed family setup. Change of energy suppliers and familiar infrastructure which seem quite normal can be very disruptive to a family with a sick child. Children may need to change schools. For siblings or children in the home this can be very traumatic. The school setting is more than a place of learning to them. It is a hub of stability, a safe haven. The social ties and friendships formed impress greatly on them emotionally and psychologically affecting their overall well-being. These social ties protect their otherwise fragile and delicate emotions from the goings-on at home. Changing schools can bring even more disruptions to an already chaotic home setting. The familiar school setting can be the one “constant” amidst the dynamism that sums up their daily lives. For parents who live in the same community but have moved far from the school, the commute may be too strenuous for them to embark on with their children. Support exists within the community to help families through this adjustment process. The children and family practice, carers UK and even the social services can advise on issues relating to home-to-school transport, volunteer school-run groups. Changing the GP surgery can be another inevitable change to expect during a house move. The GP surgery is a structure that can evolves into a hub of information for the family. Many GP surgeries in addition to providing primary health care to all families act as sign posters to other services within the community that can support families with sick children. GPs kick start many support and diagnostic processes by making simple referrals which help families access further help. Moving houses may mean changing surgeries. It is normal to feel lost at the prospect of changing GPs. However it is worth noting that since 2015, all GP practices in England have been free to register patients outside their catchment area. Although this is totally at their discretion. it can be worth discussing your family situation with the surgery if you feel your child or loved one may not cope with the change. Things are easier when discussed with the right people. The cost of moving home may be of concern to the family. There is support out there to help families through this process. This can be provided by the social workers and/or community paediatric teams. In some cases where a bigger home is required to accommodate the needs of […]

Hospital life : when your home becomes unsuitable 2


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Hi guys! Thank you so much for staying hooked to our website. It’s always lovely to know you guys are with us every step of the way. So I have been asking myself this question a lot lately. Career change…. to be or not to be? I honestly do not know what the answer to that question is but I am hoping to find out somehow….and fast! As some of you may not know (especially those new to this website) Karl and I are…or rather were full time carers to our son Otito until his demise early this year. The whole idea of setting up this website last year was (in addition to many reasons) to create an outlet for us to express the different emotions we were going through while we were resident with him in the hospital. It turned out to be a whole year long! A year ago what began as a very roller coaster ride led us to finding ways to cope. Our son was hospitalised and there was no hope of a discharge date in sight. With each passing day, he grew more and more fragile. However, we kept our spirits up by spending lots of quality time together as a family amidst our chaotic lives. The journey although tough and almost impossible at times failed to kill us but it sure did make us stronger. Well, sadly he died…. but such is life…. Tell me about bitter pills. This one was huge and we had to swallow it with every strength we could muster. Till date, the effects of that huge pill of life we swallowed with the passing of our son has left us scarred. With each passing day, the scars are becoming more bearable. It is now taking its place amongst many other  scars of life that we bear. Like every warrior, we are proud that we are overcomes by God’s grace. One thing that was apparent when it happened was that we still had to find a way to pull ourselves up and carry on. If not for any reason, for the sake of our son – Mark. Our hero. He had been through the last year living the hospital life with us and although we sadly had the worst outcome since the financial crisis, we still had to find a way to bail ourselves out of the emotional dip we were collectively experiencing as a family. I remember how the grass looked a duller shade of green. The roses were ugly and the skies seemed too grey to look at through the tears we shed. Thankfully having our boy Mark, gave us every reason to move on. Moving on was a bit difficult to do. At every emotional corner it felt like the ground was being pulled from beneath us. We knew not to dwell on those feelings but to confront each day as it came. We had good days, bad days and everything in between. One more thing that felt very strange to adapt to was working…. I wished a lot that I had the luxury of a holiday….a year long vacation to take our minds off things. Some time to grieve and even heal for that matter. Sadly, our lottery tickets were yet to yield the kind of fruit that would have guaranteed such a break. We had to soldier-on on that front as well. One thing I knew for sure was that having been through the last 4 years with a sick child, I was changed forever. I acquired a different view of life while walking that road. One I like to think of as a privileged view. I am sure that it was the type of view the elders boasted about. The one that gave them the advantage of seeing beyond what the youthful eyes could not even behold while standing on a mountain. It was a view that only came through experience. What does not kill you not only makes you stronger but also wiser, I say…hear hear! Now my dear friends… here I am! I have no idea what this big future holds for us. Hopefully some nicer more positive things to pull us out of the feelings we have experienced in the last few months. I have absolutely no idea what to do next (career-wise ) All I know right now is that whatever I choose to do from now on with the rest of my days must be something that makes a real difference. It has to make a difference in the life of others. It has to be more than just earning a wage. Anyone can do that. What we gave our boy was care, love and affection irrespective of his challenges. It elongated his time on earth. He thrived not only on our love but also on the excellent care he received from lots of medical and non-medical people. Trust me, the list of people to thank for their input in Otito’s life is endless. Sitting here today, one thing that consoles me is the level of connection we have been able to achieve with loads of people especially within the last year. It was all thanks to that little man. The people who come frequently to mind are his nurses. I will never forget the way they loved and cared for him both in our local hospital and at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) London. They were like his mums and dads on the ward. They just understood my boy and even though he was hard to please. They knew all his special needs, specifications, demands and still loved and looked after him just as he was. It was actually a fantastic relationship to witness…filled with true love… never wanting him to change who he was but forever helping him to make the best out of the life that he had. They say “you only live once” he sure had a hell of a ride with every member of his team!  My boy did not come into my […]

Career Change? To be or not to be?



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Relationships Relationships! A lot has been said about how to keep your relationship flourishing, thriving and growing. There are tons of books about this. I find many to be very true with tips and tricks to revamp even some of the most written off relationships. However, I cannot help feeling that they are not in touch with my reality. You see, there are relationships like mine that start to feel cursed because of an un-foreseen external factor- having a sick child. At the early stage of a relationship, that lovey-dovey-you-can-do-no-wrong phase no one sees it coming. Two people come together, feel strongly enough about each other and then commit to share themselves entirely with each other. That decision forms the basis for what later becomes a magnetic union… a fusion… where children are supposed to spice things up! Well, not for everyone sadly. How about when having a child feels like the worst decision ever. A completely wrong move for you and for your partner. How can your relationship still go on to stand the test of time despite all the new challenges you both become beset with  and I forgot to add for no fault of yours…? Let’s insert a disclaimer here for the purpose of clarity. When I refer to relationships throughout this our heart to heart, I do not in any way imply that the two people must be married (although my religious beliefs may scream). I refer to relationships in both the rigid and loose sense of the word. Let’s just agree to see the relationships I am referring to as the coming together of two like minds hopefully for the long haul. Right? Good, now lets kindly jump right in! So how can your relationship thrive despite the challenges you face as a carer? How can you both still look at each other and still feel lovey-dovey?  Here are some ideas that I have found useful: Expressing yourself – This is a key ingredient that can keep your relationship  thriving. By expressing yourself in your relationship, you  overcome the trap of bottling things up. When a barrier exists between you and your partner, you will be unable to constantly share your problems with each other. The reason it is important to be able to rub you minds together as often as possible is that, ultimately, no one else can understand the gravity of your circumstance more than your partner. Take time to listen to each other. Within your relationship is an interesting symbiosis that holds strengths within it. Sometimes one person is strong for the other. But like a race, you ultimately keep passing this baton of strength to each other. Let pride have no place between you both or else the flow of strength will be limited. If one person is constantly strong and never allows the other to help them when they are weak then the pressure starts to  build up. For the stronger, the inability to keep expressing themselves  hinders self-release. It ultimately leads to frustration, lashing out and undue pressure. Similarly when the other person keeps leaning on the stronger one without getting a grip especially when it matters, they become weakened by the situation thereby losing the ability to be strong. By supporting your partner, even when you cannot feel it, you assume the strength that they lose when they are weak. You each then by that act allow each other to be toughened and strengthened by the situation and challenges you face. It is okay to cry. I cry, it is a nice release if used appropriately. However, like all in life, it requires moderation as crying constantly may trigger self-pity and at times build up stress. Sharing the pain – The challenge of having an ill child is easiest when shared. No member of your partnership must assume monopoly of the child. Mums tend to be guilty of this. They feel that they are the ones best suited to care for the sick child. This may hold true initially especially when the illness is short-term. For example the odd flu or immunisation temperature, the periodic flu and so on. However, when the illness is long-term both of you need to consider a readjustment. Sometimes illnesses stay longer than we think and if they are lifelong, then like with everything else you have to adapt the new routines to suit the family needs.  For starters, the child belongs to you both. It does not matter if both of you are biological parents or not. What matters is that you have both agreed to share responsibility. Let this  responsibility not be shared by mere lip service. Put it into action. Allow your other half to care for the child. If they cannot, help them to learn kindly. If you are learning, be willing to learn. Remember that a problem shared is halved. It is also good for the child to feel the attention from both parents. In addition, especially for parents with other kids, this swapping becomes very useful for the other kid(s). Remember like we said earlier, if you take on too much then the pressure builds up. How can your partner appreciate the challenges you face caring for the child if you do the caring all by yourself. It will be easier for them to appreciate your efforts by experiencing them firsthand.  If your partner is not helping out, encourage them to see that it is actually the responsibility of each parent in the relationship. Create time for each other – This is a very crucial factor. In fact it should be key. In the first place, you are both the bedrocks… the founders of your family. To ignore each other will be as good as switching off the oxygen in the relationship. You both matter. The parental challenges imposed on the relationship due to illness can put a strain on the romance once shared by you both. It is important to put the needs of the children first but do not forget […]

Hospital Life- Relationships


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I saw something of my attention today. It was called the 6 C’s of nursing. I was very curious as I saw it conspicuously posted on the noticeboard in the hospital. 6C’s? I thought. A further look reviewed the wheel where each of the C’s were outlined. They were, care, compassion, communication, competence, courage and commitment. It makes sense that these C’s appeared to be the main things nursing was supposed to deliver. I furrowed my brows as I walked away giving each item further thought. I immediately embarked on an unintentional mental assessment of the standard of nursing that I had been exposed to since my son was born. As a team, hospitals dwindle around the standards they are able to deliver from time to time. For example on the weekends hospitals become like ghost zones lacking staff and standards. Facilities are not as looked after as they are during the week. Medical staff are not enough during the weekends. You rather find that weekends are covered by a few familiar staff, predominantly “locums” and  “bank staff”. To me these are mainly roving staff who otherwise have no way of appreciating the delicateness of some patients. Many have no way of knowing the promptness individually required to care appropriately for each patient. In this case not because they lack the skill or competence to do so, but because they have no prior knowledge of the patient as a result of their roving nature. The essential knowledge that familiar staff possess about the delicate patients is taken for granted by the recruiters of these roving staff. It should a prerequisite for caring for people with life-threatening diseases. Notwithstanding, we would never survive without the input of these roving “bank staff and locums” because they not only make up for the ever dwindling workforce on the weekends but stand in when staff go on holiday. Support from the weekday staff may help bridge this knowledge gap if their presence on the weekends can become more proportionate. With that said, sadly even the familiar weekday staff fall short of these 6C standards. Unfortunately not all familiar staff meet these standard 6C’s. The nurses to me should be an embodiment of the 6C’s of true nursing. Here is my layman understanding of what the 6C’s on that wheel should mean. Hopefully I will not be far from the truth but somehow pondering their deeper meanings may help put my thoughts in perspective about the state of nursing in general. Caring for the patients means that nurses should be interested in their patients. This will help them to know and care for them adequately. This level of care proposed by the existence of the 6C’s helps nurses bond with their patients enabling them tailor the care to suit each patient. Compassion to me is another essential ingredient of nursing. A heartless person without any human feeling or sympathy has no business nursing people back to health. Communication as a requirement is quite straightforward. Nurses must be able to understand or find ways to understand the needs of the patients. They in turn must be able to explain clearly their plans to their patients or the carers. Communication also entails understanding clear plans handed down by doctors and carrying them out carefully and accordingly. Nursing will certainly be brought to a halt if this element is missing. Competence is a prerequisite of nursing. A nurse cannot be a nurse until proper schooling and acquisition of the skills required for nursing has taken place. Personally, nursing as an institution has this responsibility to the public. They ensure that the nurses in hospitals are competent before permitting them to practice. I have noticed that further training of students are carried out through hospital placements. When new nurses are licensed, they still undergo further training on the job and are initially paired up with more experienced colleagues before getting signed off for things like medicine administration, cannula handling, using of equipment and so on. This ensures that competence is not only acquired but supported. Courage is another essential element. Nurses have to undergo many scenarios on a daily basis. Some are easier than others. From wound dressings, to highly pressured resuscitation scenarios. Nurses confront humans in their most vulnerable forms for example accident victims, mental health and even death. To expect a nurse to be courageous is an understatement. Courage is the element I think that gives nurses the strength to confront the various challenges that the nursing role throws at them on a daily basis. Commitment was the last element of nursing on that poster. It means that the staff who call themselves nurses must be willing to uphold all their standards of nursing every single time both in and out of the hospital. For example you expect a nurse to be a nurse at all times. You expect that they will show care, compassion, communication competence and courage whether they are in the hospital, on the street or train. There will be committed to saving human lives and fostering public health everywhere possible. As such, nursing is an extremely demanding job both physically and psychologically. However, as with every job done daily, over time, many nurses master these skills until they become second nature. Having been through many scenarios of care delivery, I find some nurses become either “more nursey” or “totally un-nursey”. I appreciate that these are not really words but I am sure you get the point. In my personal experience, some nurses take ownership of the job. The skills and experience acquired over time make them not only excellent nurses but transform them into extremely humane individuals. For these category of nurses, when you’re in their care you can feel at home. They become the embodiment of the 6C’s of nursing. On the flip-side, the other group of nurses allow their experience of nursing turn them into ogres without any human feelings. They become like ice, disregarding every single element of their 6C’s of […]

Hospital life : The 6C’s of nursing



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  Caring for a loved one can be a fulfilling experience. The prospect of being the one that another individual looks up to for partial or total support can be rewarding. However after a while the novelty wears off. Suddenly the harsh reality about the unending nature of the now burdening role hits you. It is made worse especially when the loved one shows no signs of improvement. It can be an endless pull on an individual. The sad part is that carers can hardly confront these burdensome feelings without an equal weight of guilt. Pangs of guilt weigh them down each time they confronts their feelings of internal frustration. “Why should I feel this way?”, they think. “I must be a selfish person after all I am not the one who is poorly”. At other times another line of thought springs up; “I really have no right to feel this way because I am not the one who is sick”. Most times these feelings keep cropping up in their consciousness leaving them emotionally exhausted. It can feel like being carers means that their needs cease to matter. As though the needs of carers should take a nose dive in terms of relevance. I have been privileged to meet many carers who have expressed these same feelings at different times. In my experience, I have come to appreciate that although these feelings are common they are the least expressed. Carers are each alienated in their individual worlds and the mix of individual experiences as a result of this role, helps them find ways to suppress these feelings. On a short-term basis, it may be easy to bury those feelings somewhere within the carer until the need for providing care for the loved one seizes. This works only in instances where the loved ones get better and everyone lives happily ever after. Some of us are living our new lives as carers and each time we stay hopeful about having such outcomes, a new symptom resurfaces. We are then snapped back to the reality of the long-term nature of our roles in the lives of our loved ones. Sincerely, on the outside, and honestly most days, we do not complain. We carry on happily. Our abnormal lives become normal for us. In our respective homes we raised the bar for “normal”by the number of activities we become able to juggle more easily. Some of us complete record-breaking number of tasks daily. This in itself can produces a sense of fulfilment. On darker days, we remember ourselves. We are jolted back to the reality of the implication of the sacrifices we have had to make in order to be there for our loved ones. I call those dark days because for me, on those days all I can think of are the things I have missed out on in my life by being here for my son. The things I wish I could do, the things that continue to elude me. On those days I feel overwhelmed by the fact that I cannot get back out there to do something for me. I feel so aware that my dreams are not just impossible but also not feasible. At times meeting an old friend can remind us of things we used to do. Such meetings make us unconsciously compare the success and progress of friends and family with all our inabilities. This thought process tends to produce sadness… Somewhat of a sinking feeling. A yearning for a life we cannot have for as long as we remain carers for our children or loved ones. It’s important to pull ourselves out of these lines of thought. We can learn to focus on why our current roles as parents carers are also fulfilling. For starters, who else will care better for your loved one? Isn’t it a privilege that you are available to do so? You could have been unable to for many reasons and still felt unhappy. What if you became unwell, will you not expect another loved one to care for you? There’s no use beating yourself up about being the one stuck with caring for your loved one when you can enjoy your ability to be there for them. You can use the opportunity to show that you care and to pour out your love into them. It is helpful to think about the bigger picture of your role as a parent carer. It’s all about finding that point where your needs and that of your loved one are adequately met. Your needs matter too and must never be overlooked. You will find a way to meet your needs while accommodating the needs of your child or loved one who depends totally on you. One of the reasons I find that parents carers feel very frustrated in their new role is because they miss their old lives. They miss being able to do things in the ways they were used to for the became parents carers. Suddenly their lives are not theirs any more. They live for their children and lose themselves in doing so. They lose control of their time, associations and social networks, hobbies and activities that or add to the substance of their lives. All those things give a carers life more purpose. It makes them feel like they make a difference every day. Being able to control when and how these activities take place give the person a sense of control and a feeling of responsibility. Some of these activities pay the bills, provide resources for acquiring things or adding to the substance of that person’s life. In reality these activities give substance to one’s life not because of the activities themselves but because of what we are able to achieve as a result of performing them. Your job for example can give you a sense of purpose, make you feel responsible, help you feel in control of your life only because you let it. It’s all down to […]

Hospital Life: When caring for your loved one feels a bit too much


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During my recent visit to the hospital school at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), the Special Education Needs (SEN) arm of the hospital asked for my feedback on the service. You see, my son Otito was admitted there for one year before he passed away. It was a service that made an absolute difference to him. He loved school and was very fond of all his teachers. They were absolutely brilliant. Looking back, I can only be grateful for their input because they not only gave him the best time in  what became the final days of his life, but also they provided us as a family with lasting memories which we will treasure forever. They asked me to highlight areas where they did badly but sincerely, I could not find any. All I found as I took the trip down memory lane were areas that could be improved on. Many of the you here have sick children or know people who do. Some of your children use GOSH London and other hospitals. I thought that it would be a lovely idea to share the feedback here to help give everyone an idea of what to expect from a hospital school SEN service. Another objective of this article, in addition to leaving this feedback, is to also add to the visibility that you will hear me propose at the end of this article. I hope you all find it useful and also gain confidence in using this service in whichever hospital your child is admitted especially if they have Special Education Needs (SEN). So let us start with the good bits…What worked? Child-led interaction: The GOSH SEN school program was centred around my son Otito. I thought that the fact that he was allowed to dictate the pace and direction that the activities took made him feel in control. This method respected and acknowledged not only his needs as a child but gave him dignity. It saw him as a human being and not just as a statistic that needed to be ticked off the box. The result was a boost in his confidence because he felt more able to flourish in his own peculiar way without being pushed beyond his abilities.  Do I think this child-led style of interacting with him worked? Yes! and here’s why It increased his confidence: Otito was given choices of activities to choose from each time. By selecting an activity he felt in control of the space and made him feel like he took part in deciding what he wanted. The child led approach helped the teachers decide the pace and speed that the session should go by not being pushy and overbearing in delivering the session. It helped the teachers stay in control of the plan and intended outcome for the session.This in my opinion, increased his confidence and modelled good behaviour to him. It helped him build trust: It helped him build trust for his teachers. Children like Otito with special educational needs- SEN are accustomed to being interrupted for interventions as a result of their complex health needs. This means that they become very protective of their own space. The child-led style of interaction helped reassure him that his opinions were acknowledged during the learning sessions. This helped Otito build trust towards the teachers that allowed him to learn. For a child like Otito whose complex health needs challenged everyone including the teachers, it was a relief for him to be able to take sessions slowly on gloomy days and enjoy more fast-paced sessions on perkier days. I remember times when Otito became unwell during sessions and how the teachers tactfully ended the session. For Otito his response was usually a mixture of dismay and relief. It made learning fun: The child-led teaching helped my boy look forward to teaching sessions. The fact that he was kept at the heart of the flow of the lesson meant that the whole experience became less of an ordeal for him. The child led interaction helped the teachers become more sensitive and empathetic towards Otito’s needs. As a result, they were more able to identify cues and behaviours that signified engagement, distraction or disengagement during the sessions. The teachers were very innovative in their expressiveness and choice of activities meaning that sessions were absolutely fun for him. This helped the teachers form a bond with Otito. This  further improved the teaching and learning experience for both teacher and student. Tailored teaching: It was very encouraging to see that at GOSH the teaching plans were tailored to suit the specific needs of the child. How? Initial sessions were used to assess the peculiar needs of my child before determining the particular equipment or tools to suit him specifically. This assessment also acknowledged feedback from us as Otito’s main carers about his particular likes or dislikes. There was a lot of observation of my child during individual play to help the teachers familiarise themselves with him, It helped the teachers make sense of what would or wouldn’t work with him. This method of teaching struck a chord with me as I felt that Otito was respected and dignified throughout the process. It allowed his perculiarities to be taking into consideration during the process of planning, preparing and executing teaching sessions. In his case, the teachers were able to determine what worked for him (for example music toys, light up toys, cause and effect toys and sensory toys) and what did not work (for example messy play and water play). Engagement: By mirroring Otito’s preferences with their choice of tools for teaching him, they were able to tailor the teaching sessions to suit him every time. Engaging him in this way not only kept him interested for longer, but gave the teachers the chance to keep steering him towards more complicated outcomes. It gave him the chance to excel at tasks we believed were impossible. For example by using light up toys, giggly balls, cause and effect toys and sensory toys […]

Did the Hospital school make a difference to Otito at GOSH London?



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Hmmm. We are having a history lesson this morning. I liked to think that I was showing my 6year old how tomatoes are sold in my motherland Nigeria (he loves hearing about Naija) when I set up this tomato stall this morning in the living room. It got us all buzzing and talking about home- our history heritage and culture of the Nigerian people (sounds like the title of my GST 101 course in Abraka Thumbs up to all the Delsuites in the house🙋‍♂️) In reality, this was for my own benefit. I bought these tomatoes in the local market “£1 a bowl”. However, for some reason, all I could think of was “abule” in Ajao estate (holla to all my estate gees🙋‍♂️) and Mile 12- the Tomato depot I used to accompany my mummy to. Good old days. As a child, I nursed many ambitions at different times. One of them was to be a tomato seller. I remember how I was always left amazed by the tomato picking, packing and shading skills some of the sellers had. Woman: buy tomarr-to buy timati Mummy: Elo ni tomato Woman: Eleyi 10naira meta 25naira Mummy: (pointing at the bigger ones and adding another pile) ati eleyi nko? Woman: hmmm, emi o ta! Meta meta 30 naira Mummy : jaale nko ( I loved the sound of that word jaale although funny enough in abraka (urhobo) we said blo👊 at this point) Woman: (nodding and looking distracted). Shey ofe ra ata rodo ? Mummy : yes (can’t remember how it sounded in Yoruba) The woman would at this point give my mum a good price. Then little me would stand waiting for this was the time when the best bit would start. The bit that made me scream to “follow”mummy to market. …. It was 1.The-nylon-bringing-out-moment followed by 2.The-packing-the-tomato-with-lightening-speed-moment then, 3.The-tying-the-bag-moment and finally 4.The-putting-it-in-my-mummy’s-bagco-super-sack-moment. As mum made to leave to find where to grind the pepper, I would linger on dreamily as I watched the woman bring out a basin of Tomatoes and start arranging new ones on the dark table in a similar way to the one I did in my picture below ready for sale. Mummy would then shout my name. Lauretta !!! (Because mummy never succumbed to calling me Laura😀) come let’s go you silly girl! Then I would be beside her wondering how the women did it? I loved it and I really wanted to sell tomatoes one day too. These women and men who sell in our markets in Nigeria are not celebrated enough. They work so hard in the scorching heat to help provide this valuable service. No matter how rich or poor we are, without them we we would not eat. Someone has to do the job and please don’t laugh too much at having this ambition. I just wish for a world where they and many others like them who sell staple foods around Nigeria especially would be looked after better. Some of my friends have done this job to survive in the past. I celebrate you. You share a piece of this history lesson that I provided to my boy today. You also have done what I never managed to achieve. Cheers to all the hardworking people out there 🍷 I forgot to say sorry to all the Yoruba people whose language I may have murdered up there….Ekepele Miss Shokunle…..in Lagbaja’s voice😀 Thank you for reading.

A history lesson for my son : Remembering the Tomato sellers


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It’s a privilege to experience “misfortune”…especially as much misfortune as I have managed so far. But defining misfortune can be quite relative. What I consider it to be may not be the same for the next person and vice versa. What misfortune can bring with it is a new lens from which to view life. A lens that can easily be misplaced or sometimes lost if the only focus is the misfortunes. That lens is empowering. As a result of that misfortune, you become able to relate in a powerful way to occurrences that you would otherwise ignore, overlook or even underestimate. Acquiring this lens helps many people feel more compassionate and sensitive to the struggles of people in the most touching ways. People struggle and are seldom able to express the extent of their pain to others. It can be empowering to keep it all in have your “business” close to your chest but as the challenges pile up, they can leave you feeling overwhelmed. Challenges can also be alienating because suddenly you realise that you are only alone in the depth of knowledge and experiences you deal with daily. It’s hard to connect with others unless they can “get” what you mean when you “say” or “feel” the way you do. Don’t feel so alone because if you start to look through the empowering lens of your misfortune you will navigate through your struggles more easily. Through the lens of your pain: You see people for who they really are You suddenly filter the noise that otherwise surrounds most of us. You realise that it’s not really selfish to look out for yourself. You see that while many may like you to believe it’s selfish to look out for yourself, it is their first response to you when you need them the most. It’s not all bad though …. The lens of misfortunes helps you see the friends you otherwise overlook. The best of them are not as flashy as the clanging cymbals because they too bear or have borne a pain like you do and can relate easily with you. Turn those lemons that life gives you into healthy juices that will nourish your life by doing the best you can with the challenges you are faced with. It may be nearing the end for you but at the end always comes the start of a new chapter.  Thank you for reading Thank you for reading. You may also like to read other articles like this. They can be found here. Photo Credit: Selfie

The lens of misfortune- A blessing in disguise