Number 48 – Adopted a cat

Last week, we adopted a homeless cat. He was found by my partner’s sister who put up signs saying ‘missing cat’, but with no response. A few people said they had seen the cat wandering around for a couple weeks.

So we have taken him in to our family. He is very friendly and affectionate, as well as tolerant of our one-year-old who wants to squeeze and sit on him at every opportunity. The day after tomorrow we are getting him de-sexed, which I feel quite strongly about as there are so many cats that get neglected or put down each year because people want a kitten but not a whole litter. By de-sexing him I feel I am contributing (even if it is just in a minor way) to there being fewer homeless kittens, and more opportunities for older cats to be adopted.

We have called him Frank after St Francis of Assisi, the patron Saint of animals (and because we are watching the TV series ‘House of Cards’, and the main character -Frank- is very manipulative and seems to get whatever he wants… just like our Frank).

2 weeks later and unfortunately Frank no longer lives with us. When I took him to the vet to get sterilised it turned out he was already micro-chipped and registered owners. The vet asked if it was ok to contact the original owners, who were very happy to have him back. Apparently he had run away several times since they first got him (which is ironic, as he always came back to us), so they also gave the owners some tips and advice on how to get him used to their home.

I was sad to see Frank go, which surprised me as we only had him a couple of weeks. But it has reminded me how nice it is to have a cat in the house, and so we are looking in to adopting another one from the local animal shelter. We went to have a look but there were only good looking cats and kittens, and we have decided to wait until a child-friendly but perhaps not first-choice-for-adoption cat comes along, so that it can end up having a ‘forever home’ after all.

A month later again, and Charlie the cat has moved in with us. She is a big lady cat who has been visiting us for a long time and after no success in finding her owners (as well as her losing weight over time), we have decided she can move in with us. She is very friendly, and patient with my daughter.

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Number 47 – Planted trees

Today I took part in a huge event where about 1000 volunteers planted 30,000 native trees. The area that is being reforested is a nature reserve and by planting native vegetation it is hoped it will encourage native wildlife back in to the area.

As well as providing a home for wildlife, planting growing trees helps remove some carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

This is the area we reforested: http://waiwhakareke.co.nz/62/arbor-day.

If you want to help re-forest the world, there are local events in many places. I also really respect the work of The Nature Conservancy: as well as protecting many natural areas, they have a campaign to plant 1 billion trees, where each $1 donated gets 1 tree planted. Their website is http://www.nature.org.

 

Number 46 – Motivation for people with mental health difficulties

Over the last week, I have been writing motivational messages on coloured paper squares. I am putting them in a box and leaving it at the mental health clinic in our city, so that patients who need some support and compassion can take one. On the box I have written the following words:

‘I’ve been through some challenging times and have managed to come out the other side, alive and no healthy and (mostly) happy. I wanted to share some support and love with people who could do with some inspiration and compassion. Each one of these notes is written with love. Love from a stranger to a stranger’.

I am guessing most of the people that attend the clinic have mental health problems or addictions, and I tried to be careful with my wording so that the messages could be appropriate and helpful to anyone.

Each message was individual, but the 100 messages I wrote were based on these 10 templates:

* Please remember to love yourself. You are doing the best you can.

* Recovery is hard, but it is worth it, because you are worth it. You are worth it! (And I don’t know you, but I know it’s true). Love from a stranger.

* There is always hope! I believe in you. As in, I believe in you, personally! You can do this! Love from a stranger.

* We don’t know each other, but i care about you  and wish you the best. Stay strong!

* There is always support if you need it. There are people who care and want to help. You don’t have to do this alone. Love from a stranger.

* Don’t give up! Recover can seem like a different path, but I promise it is worth it! Love from a stranger.

* Your identity is not defined by your problems and flaws. You are so much more than that! 🙂 Love from a stranger.

* A step back does not mean you’ve failed. It does not cancel out all previous steps forward. Stay strong!

* There is always hope, even if it doesn’t feel like it. You are strong and can overcome your struggles. Love from a stranger.

At the end of each note is the symbol I have been using as a kind of signature for a lot of the actions I have been taking recently, which is a peace sign inside a heart. I didn’t really consciously create this symbol, but I find myself drawing it at the bottom of the different messages I have written to people during my actions because it seems to naturally summarise what I am hoping to spread: peace and love.

Number 45 – Donation to Alzheimer’s research (happy birthday Grandma)

Yesterday I donated to Alzheimer’s Society, who do a lot of research into finding ways to prevent and treat dementia illnesses. I did this in honor of my grandma, who turns 90 this Sunday (25th May) and who has suffered from Alzheimer’s for many years now. I hope one day these diseases are easily prevented, as it is so sad when people you love and respect suffer and become difficult to look after.

I love you grandma, and I am sorry I could not come and visit you.

http://www.alzheimers.org.uk/

Number 44 – Encouraged bees

The importance of bees in ecosystems and to humans cannot be overstated. They are the most important pollinators and we rely on them to produce around a third of our food.  Bee populations around the world are in decline due to a number of causes.

To help support bees, I am making our garden bee-friendly by planting lots of flowers that attract them. The flowers I am planting include: lavender, bishops flower, cornflower, monarda and coreopsis. I specifically chose these plants for their bee-supporting characteristics.

http://www.mnn.com/local-reports/pennsylvania/local-blog/the-importance-of-honeybees

http://www.helpsavebees.co.uk/to_do_list.html

Number 43 – ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ campaign

On April 14, hundreds of  school girls, most between the ages of 16 and 18, were abducted from the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok in north-eastern Nigeria by the Islamist armed group Boko Haram. Now there are reports that the girls are being sold into sexual slavery or forced “marriage”! 

On the 14th of April 2014, nearly 300 schoolgirls were abducted from the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Nigeria by the group Boko Haram. There are reports that the girls are being sold into sexual slavery and forced marriages. I sent a message via the Amnesty International website to the Nigerian Ambassador in the USA. I personalised my message from the template provided to read:

Dear Adebowale Adefuye,

I am writing to express my concern over the abduction of hundreds school girls from the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Nigeria. Please can the Nigerian authorities do everything they can to secure their safe release. I cannot even begin to imagine what the families of these girls must be going through, and it is so important that they get to return home!

I also urge the Nigerian government to ensure that all children are able to access their right to education in safety, and to respect, protect and fulfill the human rights of all Nigerians without discrimination.

Peace & love,

Camilla

A message can be sent to Nigerian Authorities via this link: http://act.amnestyusa.org/ea-action/action?c=28233.

http://www.amnesty.org

Number 42 – Cooked food for a soup kitchen

I recently started volunteering at a soup kitchen (see ‘Number 38’), but this week instead of just helping to serve the food I put my name forward to also be one of the cooks.

There is now an outreach programme, where any spare food is put aside and delivered to homeless that are not able to come to the gathering point. I am so lucky to be part of this movement.

Image

https://www.facebook.com/hamhomeless

Number 41 – (Further) reduced the ecological impact of our household

I really care about the planet and try to minimise the ecological impacts of our livelihoods. I have spent some time researching new ways we could lessen our impacts and have come up with the following:

* put a filled bottle in the toilet cistern – this will reduce the water used in each flush by 3l.

* change energy providers to one that uses 100% renewable energy.

* make a habit of unplugging phone chargers when we aren’t using them, to save electricity.

* get a steel back fitted in our fireplace, to make it more efficient and reduce the amount of wood we need to burn to warm the house.

 

There are many ways to reduce the effects of your lifestyle and livelihood on the environment. At home, we try to buy food and other products that are local, ethical and environmentally considerate wherever possible. We use energy-efficient lightbulbs,and try not to waste energy. We recycle and compost as much of our waste as possible. Lots of things… it is hard to think of separate actions because they are ingrained to everything I try to do. That is what I realised worked for me: instead of deciding to do change separate components of my life to be pro-environmental, I aim to work my life around the concept of being sustainable, so that every action I take considers the environment automatically. (This is what I try to do. I still have environmental impacts. Many. But I try to reduce them, and work towards continued improvement).

Some websites that give ideas on how to reduce your environmental impacts are here:

General – http://www.davidsuzuki.org/what-you-can-do/reduce-your-carbon-footprint

Food – http://www.davidsuzuki.org/what-you-can-do/food-and-our-planet/food-and-climate-change/

Energy – http://www.nrdc.org/air/energy/genergy.asp

Waste – http://zerowastehome.blogspot.co.nz/p/tips.html

 

Number 40 – Served at a soup kitchen

A couple of days ago I met a fundraiser for a new charity aimed at helping homeless people in the city I live in. I am so excited, because the principles behind it similar to those I wanted for the charity I am trying to set up (see post ‘Number 6’), especially in that it is not means-tested.

The charity’s main aim at the moment is getting the approximately 90 homeless people in town a hot meal each night (which they have been doing for a couple of months now), but they are also helping get them clothed for winter, dental checks, medical checks, and in the government system so they can get benefits (many of them haven’t been able to as they have no ID or home address). Today, I am serving at the soup kitchen, but I am hoping to get more involved in this organisation as well. I would really like to help them write CV’s and cover letters so they can apply for jobs. But not only that, I am hoping that by getting them to write a CV I will help them discover their skills and increase their self confidence and sense of worth.

I just arrived home after helping at the soup kitchen. It was a really amazing experience. Everyone was so kind. Gentle and polite. There was no judgement at all, just people helping other people, people talking to other people. It made me feel happy that I could be part of it. I have decided to go back regularly and also bring food when I can, because even though everyone got fed I am certain more food would have been welcomed by everyone.

https://www.facebook.com/hamhomeless

June 2014: I have now been volunteering with Hamilton Homeless for over a month. I cook and serve food, and am the person in charge on one day a week. I think this might be one of my favourite volunteer jobs I have had, as I have met so many different people and feel like I am really getting involved in the community. This job, for me, goes further than just giving free food to people, it is about creating relationships, trust and respect.

Number 39 – Warm drink on a cold night for a homeless person

Last night we had a small party at our house. Quite late in to the night, a friend and I went to the local shop to pick up some more drinks and I saw a homeless man sitting on the curb. It was a cold night and the shop had a coffee machine, so I bought the man a hot chocolate, a 1l carton of juice and a packet of protein muesli bars. My friend thought it was a waste of money and didn’t think I should bother (which surprised me, actually), but when I handed them to him he said ‘thank you so much’, which to me made it worth it.