In a brief comedy sidebar, here are some hilarious pictures of me.

The first two, when compared side by side, remind me of a “Where are they now?” type programme on celebrities who have fallen from grace.
Or maybe a poster you’d find in a high school espousing the dangers of meth abuse and what it does to you.

Or possibly a Jekyll and Hyde style metamorphosis from normal to peculiar…


Looking back at other pics, I have decided to compile the following timeline of my slow descent from cute child to total nutter purely for your amusement, dear readers. After all, it is Halloween today, so how better to celebrate than witness one woman’s descent into madness… And also it turns out this is my 250th post! For other hilarious and oddly vain posts, have a look at The Many Comedy Hairstyles of Maya….

Here I am looking adorably cute and normal, aged 5 or 6 I think…


Note the trendy velour tracksuit top, and the jeans with a 6-inch hem of “growing room”

Of course, even at that age I was showing signs of being a bit peculiar… Continue reading

Ebola Rights and Ebola Wrongs…

As the news cycles move on and things change very quickly in this context, I initially starting adding postscripts to my original post on the Ebola crisis. However I decided to add a part 2 to this post, as I’m feeling self-righteous and angry about some of the news coverage, and it’s my blog, so I’ll just keep on shouting my opinions out into the ether….

I can’t help noticing that, having been consciously looking for news and updates every day, the Ebola crisis slipped out of the news for several days, and off the front pages and websites, only to be brought back into focus when once again, a case appeared in the US (this time in New York).

Subsequently, the quarantine measures being imposed on returning staff and health workers is now at the front of the news cycle, rather than the crisis itself. News that the number of new cases in Liberia is dropping steadily, or signs that the massive public health and education campaigns on Ebola prevention might be working seem to be secondary to the question of whether or not one American citizen has had her rights violated.

I’m not saying her quarantine was warranted or fair, and I am all about human rights for all, but it seems a teeny bit of an over-reaction and a distraction from the real story – whether or not the fight to control Ebola in West Africa is succeeding. Don’t get me wrong, this type of unnecessary reaction can damage the responses that NGOs are working on in the region and should not be tolerated, but does it have to be the story that dominates the media? Continue reading


For various reasons I’ve been thinking about my cats a lot this week, and how excited I am to get home and see them! Obviously I’m looking forward to seeing my family and friends too, but I do miss my gorgeous kitties too when I’m away.

I’m very lucky to have such great lodgers looking after them while I’ve been away, and poor Tiggy has been a bit poorly in the last few months, resulting in x-rays, MRIs, and pain medication, though thankfully not surgery. We’re still not really sure what’s wrong, but the poor thing had a lot of pain at the base of her tail. The vet initially thought someone had dislocated her tail, but after ruling it out, along with infected bites and other options, he thought it might be some sort of rare genetic disorder where the bones of the spine and tail don’t fuse together properly and trap some nerves. However the MRI ruled that out as well, so we don’t really know what’s wrong…

FYI though, thank god for pet insurance! It turns out, Cat x-rays = £600, Cat MRI = £1800, (Cat Scan = priceless)

Ho Ho Ho 🙂

Anyhoo, I’m looking forward to seeing these two adorable nutters and having some cuddles very soon….

Here’s a little trip down memory lane for those of you who’ve forgotten how cute and lovable they are…

photo 1


Winding Down…

Wow, after over 11 months here, I suddenly only have 3 weeks to go!
It seems to have snuck up on me somehow, and now that it’s looming I’ve realised how much I have to do!

In addition to all of the handover of the work here, and supporting the teams through what is turning out to be a tough transition, there are a million and one other things to do in the next three weeks…

As I don’t know how long I’ll be at home for, I need to start planning to see my family and friends, as there is never enough time to see everyone, and I won’t have time to get around the UK much. If I don’t start organising things in advance, people will be busy and before you know it I might be off somewhere else!

Then there is all the life admin that builds up and needs attending to, like Dr’s appointments, renewing prescriptions, seeing the dentist (and getting my teeth cleaned) and the optician (getting new glasses), taking the cats to the vet for their check-ups and vaccinations, and so on.

Oh, and at some point I have to find another job too!

So much to do, and so little time. Continue reading

Empowering Women

Last week was a real rollercoaster for me. I had some serious ups and downs.

There was the usual internal bickering and politics and bureaucracy that makes me want to tear my hair out several times a week. Plus a bit of a bollocking which I feel was slightly undeserved, so that never puts one in a good mood.

Then we had an unexpected donor visit – we found out at 4pm on Wednesday that they were coming at 9am the next morning, so we had to scramble to come up with some activities we could take them around and see. Luckily we pulled it all together (on account of having such an awesome team) and they absolutely loved it, so we ended the day on a massive high.


However, at 5pm on Friday, my lovely colleague P made my day – no, he made my week. Continue reading

Ebola, Ebola

In a short break away from the Philippines, I feel compelled to throw my two cent’s into the ring on the Ebola outbreak. This is mainly because it’s dominating the news, and also because I’m nearing the end of my contract here in the Philippines and wondering where I might end up next. South Sudan, Iraq and Liberia/Sierra Leone are all possibilities on the table right now, so I’ve been doing a bit of reading trying to keep up with my international affairs….

On the subject of Ebola, there are many many articles floating about, and I have pulled out the bits that interested me most to ponder and reflect on (I can do that, cos it’s my blog, so there). 😛


Continue reading

Conquering the Ocean

In non-work related news, I recently conquered my fear of the ocean (at least partially), which I am extremely proud of!

I went on a mini-break with some colleagues to Southern Leyte for a long weekend, which was really nice. We stayed in a fantastic hotel called Sogod Bay Scuba Resort, which frankly I couldn’t speak more highly of. It was very reasonably priced, the place was lovely, the food was delicious and the staff couldn’t have been nicer. Sorry for the shameless plug, but it was such a fabulous place.

Anyhoo, I was there with a group of colleagues from Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the UK. Out of 11 of us, only 4 of us could swim, yet we headed out on a boat trip to do some snorkelling, and I was blown away by how  brave my colleagues are! I’m already fairly scared of the ocean, what with all the sharks and jellyfish, and I consider myself a strong swimmer. However these guys chucked on a lifejacket, a snorkel and a pair of flippers and happily piled into the ocean to check out all the fish. Continue reading


Well now, here I am, coming up to 11 months here in the Philippines, and a lot has changed.

Tacloban is a very different city, with most shops up and running again (with the noticeable exception of McDonalds, whose refurbished grand opening is still being awaited with baited breath here in our bustling office….) 🙂

Organisations and Government officials alike are starting to plan and prepare for the 1-year on anniversary – a useful milestone to reflect on the fantastic achievements of the many many NGOs, Government staff, and others, while also taking stock of the long, long road to recovery ahead. Continue reading

Humpty Dumpty…

Note: I wrote this one a few months ago but forgot to post it, so some of the dates may not make sense…

A fascinating conversation with some colleagues yesterday raised the question of whether we are looking at recovery, reconstruction and resilience from completely the wrong perspective.

What if “building back better” (the buzzphrase being bandied about over here at the moment) isn’t going to work?

Don’t get me wrong, the concept of building back better is a good one. In practice it means helping communities to rebuild their houses more safely, re-designing wooden and bamboo houses to make them stronger and more resilient to typhoons. Designing roofs that have 4 sides instead of 2, having smaller roof overhangs that will produce less wind-resistance and lift, using hurricane straps to hold down corrugated iron sheets on the roof, and using concrete and hollow-blocks to stabilise the base of the core structure.

All of which are sound and logical ways to improve people’s lives, and help make them, and their houses, more resilient to the next typhoon.

But, with climate changes that are bringing us ever bigger and stronger storms, floods, and other natural disasters, will “building back better” ever be enough? Continue reading

Blog Hiatus


It seems I have forgotten all about my poor blog for the last 5 months, and left it shamefully alone and neglected.

Luckily I have the odd post I drafted a while ago and never got around to posting, so will now attempt to post a few of them and liven things up a bit in this corner of the internet!

While you’re waiting for some deep insights into the aid sector, here’s one of the best things I’ve spotted in Tacloban so far. I literally laugh out loud every time I drive past this place.