Posts Tagged ‘travel’

What’s most important, on your list of important things? For me it’s family. My folks, siblings and nephew are everything to me, like nothing messes with that! Family to me is like a car service center where you go to just get refreshed. You know how you take your car to a car wash for it to be primed, cleaned, oil changed, tyres scrubbed, everything touched around till you come out all shiny and ready to take on the world? That’s what family (and friends who have become family) do!

And that’s why SungHee’s piece is so heartwarming, and babe I’m sending loads of hugs and warm thoughts to you and all your family at this time. xoxo

My name is SungHee Tark, and I am South Korean. I study Economics at Earlham College, IN, USA.

A lot has happened this year: from starting my year with my best friends in NYC to traveling in Europe and attending an eye-opening conference with a brilliant group of youths in the Netherlands. However, the very event that I learnt the most about the important thing in life was my grandpa’s funeral a week ago.

I was traveling in Europe after attending the conference in the Netherlands in the beginning of the summer. However, my travel had to stop when I got a brief text message from my dad one early morning in June.

“Your grandpa has passed away.”

There was no emotion or anything reflected in the text message. It was around 8’o clock in the morning. I jumped out of my bunk bed in a small hostel in Istanbul to grab my laptop. Then, I booked my ticket to come home in South Korea that afternoon.

It took me 10 hours on the plane and 5 hours on a bus to return home.

I saw all my family members, starting from my parents, sister, cousins, uncles, aunts and even far relatives that I haven’t seen in years all gathered in a hall at home. All of their eyes were wet, and nobody really spoke.

Although my grandpa had spent almost a year in hospital, his death still came as a surprise. Nobody was really ready for it. It came as a shock to me as well, especially because when I saw him last, he had wished me a safe journey to Europe, and I had promised him I would bring him a gift. And I had that gift with me.

I stood there, speechless. I cried helplessly for the whole day that day.

The next day, the air seemed a little different. Everyone in my family seemed to have decided to think that grandpa had gone to a better place. We started comforting each other, talking to the picture of my grandpa, wishing him a safe journey to a better place. We shared good and fun memories with grandpa and planted trees and flowers near his grave in the backyard of his old house altogether. We talked about grandpa but in a very different light. Everyone was still in shock but we focused more on comforting one another because we all knew that that’s what our grandpa would have wanted us to do.

Since then, we’ve been visiting my grandma who still lives in the old house every day, everyone very willingly.

My grandpa has been a very big man to me, always listening, and encouraging, and someone who had supported me through all my hardships and difficult times. Because he was the pillar of our family, his missing presence is being felt greatly. However, I am very grateful to have all my family members in my life. Without them, I don’t think I would be where I am right now and I wouldn’t be able to recover from the loss of our beloved grandpa.

Among all the things I hope to achieve and I am looking forward to in the second half of the year, I wish for my family to achieve what they desire in their lives, keep caring for one another and stay healthy the most.

Because I know I can overcome anything with them in my life.

Sunghee 2

My gorgeous friend SungHee!




Back to the girls and out of Nigeria, we’re off to The Netherlands and a guest post from Paulien Boone, a super amazing lady I met in May! Before I talk about her successfully coordinating 70 delegates from three continents for the Hope XXL Summit (think applications, visas, travel, etc), can I just say she has a new initiative called the Paris Declaration? Check on it!

By the way, The Hague is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve been to, and I can’t wait for the next opportunity to go back!

My name is Paulien Boone, I am Dutch and I work for a nonprofit in The Netherlands. In the first half of 2014 I learned that I have a voice.

The year 2014 started off pretty great: I won a national essay writing contest on fundraising. The essay had to be about connecting with donors, and to my great surprise I won the contest and was awarded the title of “Young Fundraising Talent 2014”. This award did not bring about a big change in my life as a fundraiser for nonprofits, but it did make me realize something else: I love to write.

Even before the start of 2014 I had already registered my own website, the Paris Declaration, which is designed to help readers get the most out of their time on earth and change the world in the process. This is something I’m really passionate about, because I believe that it is possible to have a wonderful life, apply your talents and change the world at the same time.

This belief is not something I developed overnight. It is directly linked to the experiences I’ve had so far, with (mostly young) people deciding to become changemakers. It’s amazing to see what happens when someone discovers new talents while working on something they believe in. They grow as a person and as a changemaker, and it makes a big impact on their lives and on the people around them.

Unlocking this potential is something I want to contribute to, and something I want to learn more about by writing about it and connecting with others.

One of the highlights of the year so far was a couple of days during which I got to do exactly that: connect with an international group of amazing, talented and inspiring young people. They were all participating in a conference I organized in The Hague (Chioma took part as well!). This group confirmed the famous saying to me: our similarities are far greater than our differences. It inspired me to continue building the Paris Declaration to support them and many others. It also gave me the courage to launch it and commit to writing a new article every week. The inspiration brought about by this experience is something I’m truly grateful for.

I’m super excited about the second half of the year, which will be all about supporting readers with valuable content and offering an online home to all changemakers out there. The first six months of 2014 were dedicated to starting up, and now, at halftime, I can reflect and conclude that I can’t wait to grow further. Bring on the rest of the year, I’m ready!



Thank you so much Paulien!



I’m so excited! It’s the 1st of July, and officially the start of the #31Days31Writers – mid year edition! Why am I super excited? Well, so I’ve been all over the place this past month, and by the 26th I wasn’t sure I would still be able  to pull this off. But, here we are, and I’ve got such a spread of voices from around the world I’m mega excited!

We start with my friend Yama! Yama was our designate driver the night we went from The Hague to Amsterdam to see the Red Light District; he’s a fantastic, super brilliant guy, and it’s my privilege to start the month with a voice from Afghanistan!


Hi there,

First of let me start by saying: You look absolutely stunning today!

My name is Yama Akbari. Born in Afghanistan, living in The Netherlands. Student and business owner.

What I’ve learned in the past 6 months is that life is so incredibly difficult to plan. I’m not much of a planner anyway, I usually take things as they come. But I decided that needed to change a little (a part of growing up maybe…). Didn’t really pan out the way I wanted. I planned to focus more on my studies, but ended up working way more than studying. Was really planning on staying single, instead got to know someone I really could not let go of. This made me wonder: Why do I suck so badly at planning my life? I came to the conclusion that life is pretty much ‘unplannable’ for the most part when I started thinking about ‘planning’ on a larger scale.

For example, who could ever ‘plan’ the following: a kid born in Kabul in 1990, wanting to leave for the gym on the 30th of June 2014 (should have been studying for his exams, shame on him) would remember; promising a very inspiring Nigerian girl he met at a conference in The Hague, to write a few words for her blog. Crazy right? But kind of beautiful at the same time. Imagine the string of events that had to take place before this moment. Unfortunately, a lot of those events weren’t as joyful as this one, which leads to the second thing I learned in the past 6 months: Andre 3000′s fashion sense isn’t the only thing that’s spot on, his cryptic life lessons are as well. On the Outkast song ‘Ms. Jackson’ he sings: ‘you can plan a pretty picnic but you can’t predict the weather’. I finally got it Andre, you keep on spitting mad truth and dressing dapper as hell!

That brings me to what I’m looking forward to for the second half of this year .. Not really easy to say after all of that ‘life is crazy and unpredictable’ stuff. I am actually thinking about what I’m looking forward to while writing this sentence and I’m realizing that it’s such a blessing that I’m not sure what to look forward to (huge smile on my face right now). All those unplanned moments of joy; that feeling of relief when everything turns out well after a moment of uncertainty, an unexpected phone call from an old friend, coming home and getting served your favorite meal, being the best at something very random and useless, witnessing a cute moment between two lovers, stumbling upon a family of ducks swimming in a pond (I’m running out of ideas..), seeing an old lady feeding those ducks and making sure the weakest one gets as much as the rest. All I’m planning and looking forward to (apart from studying and working, duh) is actually enjoying and appreciating all those little unexpected moments of joy.

I urge you to do so as well. Even if it’s something very unexpected and random. Let’s say: a guy from halfway across the world, at the start of his post on this blog, complimenting you that you look stunning without even knowing what you look like …



Screenshot 2014-06-30 23.43.40

Another one bites the dust…

Posted: February 9, 2014 in DAY 2 DAY
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Cory Monteith. Michael Jackson. Whitney Houston. What two things do these names have in common? Fame/wealth. Undisputed access to tons and tons of money, acclaim, all that good stuff.

The second thing is illicit drugs/death. Whatever it is they snorted, smoked, injected or inhaled, it led to their death, and very early too. Cory Monteith was 31, Michael Jackson was 50. Talk about lives being cut short.

Exactly one week ago, when I heard Philip Seymour Hoffman had been found dead on the 2nd of February with a needle still stuck in his arm and heroin (a special type called ‘Ace of Spades’) in packets around him, I was sad, then angry, then sad, and angry all over again.

Sad – he died young, he was just 46. He was very popular too, an Oscar award winner, and recently starred in Hunger Games (which by the way I have never watched and don’t think I will ever see because I don’t like fight fight).

Angry – are there not enough examples to prove that drugs are a sure way to die early?

Sad – heartbroken for his family, his wife/partner and their three young children. His parents, and the stigma of being related to the person ‘who died with a needle in his arm’.

Angry – what on earth made him go back to drugs after 23 years of being drug free? Whatever could have entered him all over again? They say his drugs could have been laced with something else. Ok, but why take them in the first place? Why?

I’m sure I could go the sad and angry route a few more times, but I won’t.

Psychologists say anything you do for 30 days becomes a habit – this man had been drug free for at least 8280 days! Then according to a report I read, he started abusing prescription pills, graduated to heroin, and then on to this substance that took his life.

I chatted with someone recently, and he told me the amount of thanks and gratitude he got because he gave him a $5 tip. 5 dollars. Reports say just weeks ago the now late Seymour withdrew $1200 from an ATM to pay for these drugs. $1200 on drugs when the next man is almost throwing a party because he was gifted 5 bucks.

Here’s another reason why I am angry – a child is attracted by the flickering light of a candle, and they want to touch it. Most times we let them because we know once it hurts them that first time, they most likely will not go back to it again. ‘Most likely’ because children have the attention span of a goldfish! Bless them.

23 years after, did he forget? Did he become so wealthy that he felt that the drugs would ‘fear/respect his money’ and not harm him? What was he thinking? The Bible says that the things that are written are unto us for examples.

Just like I wrote the ‘learn from it, don’t be it‘ post when Cory Monteith died, I’m writing again  - say NO to drugs. Say No, and mean it so much that whoever asked you before will be convinced you are not interested. You shouldn’t even be friends with such people in the first place!

RIP Philip Seymour Hoffman.

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I Skyped with my sister earlier today, and one of the first things she said to me was, “you’re wearing my sweater”. Lol! I think she gave me this sweater in 2002 or so, and even then I think Momma gave it to her. So much love, memories and family in this now shapeless cardigan, but it is one of my favorites.

It’s one of my ‘I want to remember my family’ pieces; others include my Daddy’s sweatshirt, gloves, muffler (he gave me o, I didn’t ‘take’ them). Then there’s Momma’s leggings, my aunty Pat’s wrapper, and so many bits and pieces from my sister’s wardrobe. I have my brother’s Abercrombie and Fitch cropped pants (they went from very baggy to fitted, lol), and a fleece I got from an Egypt Air flight because it smelled like my nephew!

Quick story, and you dare not laugh! 2010 I resumed for the Masters in Birmingham and in the first week I was there (and totally not liking it), I went to the library to get some work done. When I was leaving it occurred to me that my dad’s muffler I had wrapped myself with wasn’t on my neck again. I remembered when my neck felt a little too exposed as I ran into the library (it was a really windy day) and when it dawned on me that I might have lost it, I ran out of the library and defying the wind, started retracing my steps.

God had mercy on me, and I saw that someone had picked it up and placed it on a window ledge. The way I cried when I picked it eh, you’d think I had just found my missing child. Sigh. I think I even apologised to the scarf sef. (Rolling my eyes so you don’t have to roll yours :)

Still on my dad, he had a funny habit when we were younger. On the occasions we didn’t leave the house together and we met up in church or anywhere else, he would look at us and immediately know who was wearing something belonging to the other sibling. And he wouldn’t just know, he would say!

I can’t count how many times I heard him say, “why are you wearing your sister’s dress?” Na wa. Somehow it always made me laugh, especially since 9 times out of 10, he’d be right! Always made me laugh.

After a while though, everyone grew up, it kind of became a chore knowing who was wearing whose clothes, and after a while he stopped. I miss it o, the twinkle in his eyes whenever he said that.

Still on my dad (and clothes), when I was about 13 I read this scripture, Matthew 6:25“Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?” And from then on, my answer to whatever I was asked would be “I’m not giving it any thought.”

Now, Saturday nights were spent (amongst other things like Scrabble between my folks or us kids), arranging our clothes for Sunday. This particular Saturday night, I refused to bring out and iron my Sunday dress, because I was, ‘having no thought’. To be honest, I had an outfit planned (in my head) and I figured that when I brought it out the next morning, they would believe I was really ‘living the scripture’.

After asking a couple times, everyone left me (especially when I started singing the scripture). The evening and the morning, Sunday! I woke up, showered, and went to my wardrobe to pull out my planned outfit.



It was there o, but apparently I’d worn it somewhere quite a while before that day and not only did I have food stains on the front, something was wrong with the zip!

I cried that morning eh! Plenty cry! My folks were gracious that morning, very gracious, it’s my brother and sister who couldn’t stop laughing. SMH. I don’t remember what I ended up wearing, I think it was something Momma had been trying to get me to wear, and that morning I didn’t have a choice.

I love my family – my two big brothers, my sister, Momma and The Patriarch, and my precious, precious nephew – love you guys to the moon and back!




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Have you followed this Djeregbe trip religiously? Then you’ll know there’s a post from London to Lagos and Lagos to Djeregbe (in one), the one on devotions, the one with the story about the madman, pictures from the entire trip, Djeregbe to Lagos and Abuja, Abuja back to Lagos, and a final Lagos to London post. All of this in seven days. Phew!!!

Officially available to do travel writing, this trip (and all the other trips I’ve made this year) keep screaming out to me that I should take it up professionally. Don’t even know if Booski will buy that but hey, let’s put out the ads first!

Ok, so all good things have to come to an end right? My girl Wumi and I went to Abuja together, and for the trip back to Lagos, staying true to who I am, we raced all the way to the airport! After we’d checked in, dropped our luggage, and started walking to the security gate, we saw the flight had been delayed and so we didn’t have to run.

When we got upstairs though, I was taking off my belt to place in the basket for the scanner when I was told to take off my slippers as well. Now I try not to wear belts or anything else I’d have to take off when I’m traveling because the ‘stripping’ (I’m exaggerating I know) in front of complete strangers just irks me.  Me taking off my slippers here was doubly annoying because the carpet was filthy and what on earth could I have concealed in flat slippers? Not like they would have noticed if I had concealed anything (because the bottle of water in my bag wasn’t detected) but let’s just move on.

While I was grumbling within myself, I noticed a guy wearing a kaftan who came and waltzed through the screening thing (actually walked beside it), while the officials took a break from their duties to chorus, “you’re welcome sir, your people are here sir, have a safe trip sir”, and all that rubbish.

I turned to Wumi and said (to her, not via a public address system to the entire airport, “looks like some animals are indeed more equal than others. That man wasn’t searched, these people are even hailing him.” In Bible speak, ‘while I was yet speaking’, a lady official tapped my shoulder twice (startling and then thoroughly annoying me), and the conversation that ensued is below

Lady official: Why are you talking like that? Do you know who he is?

Me: I don’t know who he is and I was talking to my friend. You shouldn’t listen in on other people’s conversations.

Lady official: Instead of you to ask, do you know he is the D-I-G? (Deputy Inspector General)

Me: I don’t want to know, and you really shouldn’t listen to conversations not meant for you.

And I walked away, ticked off.

We were walking to board,  and I asked Wumi if I said anything wrong (again talking to my friend and not via any device to the entire airport) when another person in uniform (apparently carrying the said DIG’s bag) turned and said, “how can you not know the DIG”?

By this time I was almost smoking from the ears. I raised my voice and said, “what is it about today that everyone’s eavesdropping on my conversations? Was I in any way speaking to you? Please leave me alone!”

He slunk away.

SMH. There should be no exceptions to the rules, especially in a very unsafe, insecure Nigeria. It is this ‘different rules for the goose and the gander’ that have fed corruption to the point of obesity.

And people shouldn’t eavesdrop!

Was an absolute delight to meet and have dinner with Vickie last year on my first ever trip to Ghana, that’s one more way Mac-Jordan is a blessing!

So she doesn’t give out where she’s from but I can, so maybe I will. Or will I? The hyperlink above gives a bit more about her so go on, go there too! For day 7 of our #31days31writers project, here’s Miss Vickie Remoe!

My name is Vickie Remoe and I am CEO of a marketing firm in Accra. I am an ECOWAS citizen.

This year I learned that the key to getting anything accomplished is meticulous planning. Even without all the money anyone can do anything if you just plan well.

I am most grateful for being able to have a business partner, who is GoWoman enough to give 110% always. Without her I wouldn’t have been able to publish GoWoman Magazine.

The only regrets I have this year, are all around the same issue. Sometimes I don’t let my mother mother me, and this hurts her feelings.

So if I could do anything differently this year, I would shut up and let her do her mothering.

vickie remoe

I wish I had the courage to take ALL my hair off, she’s absolutely gorgeous!


There’s a whole set of chronicles from my London-Lagos-Djeregbe-Lagos-Abuja-Lagos-London trip, first one’s here.

We had devotionals everyday (link to my notes from all of them are here), and Jerome told this story during one of those devotionals. You might have heard it before but hey, no harm in reading it again, right?

In Lagos there is something called ‘Third Mainland Bridge‘, which runs above ….river and is about km in length. According to Lagosians, it is the worst place ever to get stuck in traffic because there is no shoulder, and no options for a U-turn or anything like that.

Anyway, so on this day there wasn’t any traffic, and this car with four guys in it was moving on the bridge when the driver miscalculated and went boom! into a pothole. All of them in the car heard a bang and when the driver got it together and stopped the car, they noticed that all the screws on one of the tires was off.

They were in the middle of the bridge, about … of road each way, and no screws to hold the tire in place so they could leave. Tried to call people to bring screws but for some reason they couldn’t get anyone willing to come bring screws to them.

And then they saw this mad man walking towards them, like a proper mad person. Probably not the ones with clothes on, and of course he looked really rough, like he’d been on the streets for a while. First thought was, “oh boy, to compound our troubles here’s a madman who will probably try to harass us”. All of them braced themselves to fend him off, probably ‘psyching’ themselves up in their minds and putting on their most brave faces.

And the mad man came up to them and said, “why don’t you remove one screw from each of the tires? That gives you three screws for the fourth one, and you can leave here.”

Wisdom from a mad man? Incredible! But then you must have heard that even the fatally insane have their lucid moments, and the most intelligent have their crazy moments. Just depends on which one you channel more, but I digress:)

Long story short, these young men did as the madman said, and true to his words, they were able to drive off with three screws each on all four tires.

What if they had discountenanced his counsel because of his appearance? What if they didn’t listen at all? They’d probably still be on that bridge till now!

Moral of the story? A man wrapped up in himself is a very small package. There are pools of knowledge we can draw from every single day, long as we humble ourselves and remain teachable.

C’est fini!

Right, so I decided to dedicate one full post to all the photos I took in Aberdeen…. I’ll update this lot as more come in. Ok? Quick warning, a number of them are of delicious looking food so I hope you’re not supposed to be abstaining from meals when you look at this!!

My special party favour pack (and note) from namesake and mother of the gorgeous, gorgeous baby!


My dessert at TGI Fridays, a warm, moist chocolate brownie with ice cream and a caramel spread! Sinful!!!


The view from my hotel room, lovely!! Grey today though, and it was almost 9am!


Whoop!! So Fran’s husband made lunch (yes this was made by a man, an engineer for that matter)… Yum! Yum! Yum! Salmon was to die for!


Yeah!! Bet you didn’t know I was going to capture that!! All that whipped cream… #Foodie


Breakfast anyone? The full cholesterol diet, according to a very dear friend of mine…


This is what I had on the day of the party, fried rice, grilled chicken, a bit of coleslaw, and stir fried beef! Yum!


Just one comment: everything on this table was made by Lanzo(Fran’s hubby)! And it tasted wonderful! #Teamhubbyswhocancook


Super gorgeous Talia!!! Beautiful, darling girl! God bless and keep you Sweetie! Fran she needs siblings, already!!!


Another day, another breakfast tray! #Foodie

Talia Renee

The reason I went to Aberdeen, gorgeous, precious Talia!


A lovely room for a lovely blogger!!! Didn’t believe Premier Inn rooms could be this nice, but I loved it!!


I promise to remember the name of this restaurant at Gatwick airport and then come back to update this… Food was awesome!

That’s it, took this long but I’ve finally wrapped on my Aberdeen trip! Hope you enjoyed the posts, and the pictures!