A lonely girls guide to being alone

“I like drinking coffee alone and reading alone. I like riding the bus alone and walking home alone. It gives me time to think and set my mind free. I like eating alone and listening to music alone. But when I see a mother with her child, a girl with her lover, or a friend laughing with their best friend, I realize that even though I like being alone, I don’t fancy being lonely.

You see, there’s a BIG difference between being alone and being lonely.

Being alone is power. A power that not everyone is capable of. It’s a state of being. Being alone is something you can enjoy, it’s something you own, it’s something you choose. You can be by yourself and find ways to make yourself smile. You connect with yourself hard. Being alone can bring you so much happiness.

Being lonely is the opposite. It’s an emotion. It’s not positive, it’s silence that hurts and the thought of all the things that you’re missing out from hovers like a black cloud. It’s not enjoyable at all. You can be in a room full of people but feel completely alone. You feel disconnected, and it’s not something you always choose. Being lonely brings you anything but happiness.

I know people that are terrified of being alone, they jump from relationship to relationship and would never imagine going to the movies, or travelling, or eating dinner alone. And I know people that have spent most of their lives in different states of loneliness, being with the wrong partner, spending years of their life alone or even people who travel, moving from city to city with no real roots.

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Sometimes, I am both. I’ve travelled the world, I’ve lived away from home, I’ve been single for a long time and I’m fiercely independent. Most days, I look back at the life I’ve had so far and I’m so proud of everything that I’ve achieved, mostly by myself. I’ll come home from work, back to my little flat in China and close the door behind me. I’ll come home to silence and I look around my room, everything I own is mine and everything I do is for me. Most days I cherish this and am SO grateful for it all. But some days it feels empty and I wonder when I’ll close the door behind me and someone will be so happy to have me home, someone who’ll stick around to share it all with me (read about why travel is ruining my dating life here).

But my point is, I’m not alone, am I? Surveys are finding that more and more people are feeling lonely. And in a time where we’re more ‘connected’ than ever, loneliness is not something we talk about enough, especially if you’re male, a mother, a boss, or anything that might ‘weaken’ your image. But it’s okay to feel like this, I think most of us will at some point of our lives, and I hope you’ll find someone to talk to or a way to get out of it before it drags you down deeper. It’s a dangerous road but there are paths to overcome it all.

“I enjoy controlled loneliness. I like wandering around the city alone. I’m not afraid of coming back to an empty flat and lying down in an empty bed. I’m afraid of having no one to miss, of having no one to love.”

6 ways to conquer being alone and the feelings of loneliness:

  1. Firstly, it’s a basic tool but I’ve recently fell in love with this chatroom. Of course, I meet people from all around the world and I have a great support system back at home, but this thing is fab! It’s a safe space with controlled and positive communications. Use it regardless of how you’re feeling, send it to your loved ones and share the hell out of it… https://chat.itskoko.com/
  2. Make plans and find new connections/relationships. Be brave and embrace the good people around you. Human connection is meant to be the key to a happy and long life! Be kinder, love harder and smile bigger. Make plans so you stick to something and so you have something to look forward to. It really is the little things that can make a big difference.
  3. Find positives out of your situation. Like, yeah, I might be single AF (and therefore sometimes lonely) but I get to travel the world, do what I want every day AND starfish every night with no one judging my Netflix choices… just an example. And also, remove anything that triggers your feelings of loneliness like songs from your ex, old photos, you get me, just until you’re stronger.
  4. Find things you enjoy doing, whether it be alone or to meet new people. You have all this freedom, so use it! Discover new hobbies, do things you love and make your life about you. Join classes, the gym, venture out of the house and go for walks alone! It’ll all make you feel better, especially a bit of exercise (this is me convincing myself too)….
  5. Self-love. I’m not sure how many times I’ve used that word in my blogs, but I don’t give myself enough of it and I’m sure if you’re still reading this then you need a reminder too! You are not unwanted, unloved or unworthy. You deserve everything good in this life and this feeling won’t last forever. Remember this. You are your longest relationship, and you have to spend the rest of your life with you! Forgive yourself, love yourself and promise to do better for yourself.
  6. I also recommend reading Dr. Seuss’ ‘Oh, the places you’ll go!’. It’s my favourite book in the world. If you’re still reading, you’ll need it. Read it, share it and remember it. He’s a genius.

So, embrace being alone and seek for something different if you’re feeling lonely. And one more thing, be kind, to each other and to yourself. You never know what battle people are fighting, what they must go home to every day or how hard their life has been. Call your mum more often, take your Nanna out for lunch and tell your best friend you love them. You’ll never regret being kinder.

Sending lots of love,

V

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For more reads check out my My 8 steps for healing.Mental health and me: bringing back my power.Mental health and me., and Thoughts of a single gal

Education in Mexico

Today, four million children in Mexico will not go to school, with another two million children at risk of dropping out to join the second largest child labour force in Latin America. In developing, low-income countries, like Mexico, every additional year of education can increase a person’s future and income by an average of 10%.

But thanks to your help, we’re able to provide the opportunity and choice of schooling, higher education and extra-curricular activities to every child that walks through our doors. Thanks to you, we’re able to offer home-school options, vocational courses, work training programs and all sorts of varieties of education according to our kids interests and levels! Thanks to you, we’ve seen some of our first generation of girls graduate, our young men are giving back to the community and working alongside founders Pam and Alan, and our youngest children have much brighter futures because of their access to education. Absolutely incredible!

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And as graduation season is coming to an end and our brilliant bunch start getting ready to go back to school, we want to celebrate, recognise and highlight their amazing achievements, all of which would never have happened without you guys!

Our university graduates

Our first generation are incredible examples of how education has broken their cycle of poverty and filled their lives with hope, opportunity and choice. Starting from day one of Mision Mexico, this inspirational bunch have come out the other end, through our education programmes and became our first lot of university graduates! We’re super proud of them and can’t wait to see what their futures hold!

Yuri

Yuri is our third female graduate, who has just finished her degree in Biotechnology! She’s an extremely intelligent, caring and focused young lady, who was one of our first ever YTP females and one of the first girls to make the successful transition into independent. Yuri is now part of our Adult Independent Program (AIP), so she lives independently but received financial help with her university costs. Her dream is to go on to do her Masters!

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Jossalin

Jossalin came to Mision Mexico in 2007, along with her brother and sister. She’s since become a loving mother, wife and is now a graduate with a degree in Business Administration! This makes her our fourth female graduate! J stays close to the family and even had founder and Mom, Pamela, walk her down the aisle.

Lalo

Lalo is one of our first male university graduates! Him and his brother lived with us from an early age, making him one of our successful first-generation adults! Lalo was part of our working training scheme, learning construction and helping to build Misión Surf. Alongside his employment at Misión Surf, he moved into our Adult Independent Program (AIP) which provides education scholarships for our young adults whilst they live independently.

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Katherine

Katherine’s journey through education and Mision Mexico is an extremely incredible and inspirational story. You can read our blog here about her life, her achievements and her journey as a doctor! She’s doing truly amazing stuff!

Dulce

D came to live with us as a teen and worked incredibly hard to achieve her biological mums dream for her to gain an education and have a life full of opportunities and options. D was one of our original YTP females and our first ever female graduate!! AND recently received her first promotion at work. D’s beautiful wedding took place in our home of MM with our current and past MM kids and young adults as guests! It was a huge family affair! Papa Alan walked her down the aisle (which was our red path!) and they had their wedding ceremony in our family chapel.

Our second generation

This summer we’ve also said huge congratulations to our Prepa School graduates who are all in our YTP and AIP programmes! You’re hardworking, ambitious and an inspiration to everyone. We’re so proud of you all!

Ricky, Candy and Yessica

Ricky is currently applying to study languages and teaching at university! Candy is going to Chef college in May to fulfil her culinary dreams! Yessica is currently exploring her options between university and vocational courses, we can’t wait to see what she’ll do next!

Our Maria’s

Congratulations to our two Maria’s for graduating Prepa too! Both have plans to enrol in university this year with hopes to study ciudado y desarrollo infantil and technico en informatica administrativa! Well done to our brains and beauties!

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The future generations

And here’s to our future generations! This wonderful bunch have just graduated secondary school and made the big move into Prepa School! Congratulations dear Maria Esther, Ali, Antonio, Luis, and Dani. We’re so proud of all of our children, those who are smashing our home-school program, those who are thriving in their after school programs and each every one of them for waking up every morning (even if it’s a struggle!) and trying and learning.


“It was only a few years ago that L was struggling to advance in the public-school system and his education. Watching him step up on stage to receive his secondary certificate and seeing how happy he was amongst his peers was one of my Mision Mexico highlights of this year. You go kiddo!” – Melissa

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Thank you

Hats off to and special thanks to our wonderful education sponsors! You make the world a better place, thank you for all that you’re doing!

How can you help?

At Mision Mexico, we rely solely on donations, sponsors and outside help. Which is why we literally couldn’t do it without you! These stories are positive reminders of the incredible and life-changing effects that our education program and sponsors have on our kids. And as our children grow up, and as many are approaching our YTP programmes (read about that here) and further education stages, we will start seeing an increase in cost as their dreams of university and college start creeping up alongside with them! In addition to this, we’ve welcomed five new lovely faces who were all in need and are now searching for sponsors to start their educational journeys!

It costs $25.00 USD to send a child to school for one month.

It costs $50.00 USD to send a child to school, complete with books and uniforms for one month.

It costs $75.00 USD to send a child to attend school with a full uniform, books, school excursions and additional school supplies for a month.

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Please contact us at info@lovelifehope.com with ‘Education Sponsorship Program’ in the subject line and advise us how you would like to help. We will send you information on how best to donate and then you can begin sending donations to the education fund at any time.

Volunteer! Run projects! And visit us in Tapachula! We’re currently recruiting for November 2018 and onwards. So, if you’re interested, please don’t hesitate to contact us via social media or apply at volunteer@lovelifehope.com. And You can read about life as a volunteer here!

Muchas gracias!

Love Vanisha and Mision Mexico

Follow, share and support us on social media

https://www.instagram.com/misionmexico/

https://twitter.com/mision_mexico

https://www.facebook.com/MisionMexicoChildren

Watch “Education at Mision Mexico” on Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/121235797?ref=em-share

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Everything you need to know about volunteering abroad

Yesterday marked what would have been Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday, a day to celebrate a man that dedicated his life to global peace-making and a day to inspire others to continue the fight for what is right. He once said, “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we lived. It is the difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead” and I couldn’t agree more! The big legend.

And, I get asked a lot about my volunteer and charity work. How do I do it? Where do you even start? There’s different prices, locations, different work involved, different lengths of time required, etc etc etc. There’s a lot to think about and consider when it comes to changing the world! Drum roll please….

  1. Start with the basics

Find your passions and think about what you’d like to do (or what you’d NOT like to do). There’s literally something for everyone from the usual teaching English and childcare to the unusual like turtle conservation and building with the Maasai Mara. Focus on organisations that resonate with your morals and passions. Research them, make sure they’re legit, follow them on insta and drop them an email, even if it’s just to say, ‘hey great work you’re doing!’, you’ll get to see the response, ask more questions and review their requirements and application details. You can do it!

  1. My first solo trip

When I was 19, all I knew was that something bigger was waiting for me, but like you guys, I had no bloody idea where to start! So, I took to the internet, searched for well-known organisations and booked my flight to Morocco. Volunteering with a well-knoen, global organisation like Original Volunteers, VSO or GVI are great for first timers and pretty straight-forward, but usually come at a high cost. You’ll usually pay for your meals, airport pick-up, in-land help and accommodation, which means that all you have to do is turn up! I went to Marrakesh where there were daily placements for us to choose from such as visiting nurseries, village schools and an orphanage. There was a huge group of us and the organisation ran fun sightseeing trips too. If you’re looking for cheaper options then this isn’t the best way to start, but it’s easy and fun, especially if you’re a beginner, and organisations like OV are worldwide!

Where? Morocco.

What? Mostly working with children.

Who? Original Volunteers

Visit them here: https://www.originalvolunteers.co.uk/

  1. Exchanges

Help X is an incredible website filled with individuals and smaller organisations that are seeking volunteers and help. Again, the work ranges from anything you can imagine and you can find work in the biggest cities of the world to the highest mountains (probably)! And the great thing about Help X is that there’s no middle man asking for big bucks for your help. Some places ask for donations which you’ll feel like you’ll want to by the end of your trip, but basically, they’ll offer accommodation and meals in exchange for your work. It’s pretty simple and a real great way to travel whilst volunteering. You really get a feel of people’s lives and get involved on a deeper level that you wouldn’t always experience with a bigger organisation.

Where? It’s worldwide but I’ve used Help X in Indonesia and my best gal has used it in Chile and Italy!

What? You can do all sorts! I stayed with a family and helped promote a fathers English School in South Sulawesi. One of the most interesting experiences of my life!

Who? Literally anyone and everyone.

Go have a goosey-gander: https://www.helpx.net/

  1. The internet

I swear by google. It’s thanks to me simply typing in ‘volunteer in Kuala Lumpur’ and ‘volunteer in Mexico’ that I found two incredible causes and had the opportunity to visit both. Just type in ‘volunteering in (insert country)’ then email away! Read the websites, follow them and check their values, then just go ahead and message them! I’ll also make a list at the bottom of great people and organisations to follow and check out. Social media is great for this, you can see what organisations are about from your computer screen! Instagram is great too, people will tag and post things of their own experiences. It’s a great tool, use it.

The refugee school that I found in Malaysia is always seeking volunteers. They’re a marginalised group of wonderful teachers and children who are all just hoping for better lives. They don’t get much funding or help in general so travel friends, go drop by and say hey!

Where? Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

What? Teaching

Who? School for refugees

They don’t have official pages so feel free to ask me for contact details and addresses!

  1. Mexico

Thanks to google. I also found this inspiring group of people! Mision Mexico has been a blessing for me and if you follow my social media, you’ll definitely know these guys! I volunteered with them last year and have continued my work with them ever since! They’re a small refuge for children in the border town of Tapachula, and they depend wholly on donations, volunteers and sponsors. The kids learn to swim, surf and all sorts, so the work needed is pretty varied and they’re always in need of extra hands! It’s a great cause and they’re a fab bunch of people. Read more about life as a Misión México volunteer here.

Where? Tapachula, Mexico

What? Working with children

Who? About 40 incredible kids and teens!

Visit and follow us here: https://www.facebook.com/MisionMexicoChildren/

https://www.instagram.com/misionmexico/

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And there you have it! Volunteering isn’t easy. The process can be long, expensive and the work itself can be tough, demanding and sometimes emotionally hard to deal with. You work with people who have been through the unimaginable and still manage to smile more times a day than you. And you work alongside people who commit their lives just like Mandela, to making the world a better place for all. It makes you question the world and life and what really matters. And that’s why it’s all worth it! You’ll be forever changed, and the world will be too 😊

I hope you feel inspired and I hope you go do some good today!

Feel free to message me if you have any questions about anything still!

Have a lovely day folks

V

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I’ve tagged a load of people to follow on my latest post on IG too! https://www.instagram.com/vanishamay

Below is a list of sites and people to follow;

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Our Global Family – Part Uno

Aside from our gorgeous children and our vision for a better future, the third thing on my list of things I love most about Misión Mexico are our amazing supporters.

Most charities and NGO’s are lucky enough to have global supporters and donors, but I truly believe that Misión Mexico is quite unique when it comes to the loyalty and longevity of our supporters, sponsors and donors. I’ll always refer to these people as ‘Our Global Family’. These are the people based in countries all around the globe who share one thing in common; their dedication, investment and love for our children and their journeys through life at Misión Mexico and beyond.

Our global family is a small but dedicated group of people from all walks of life, whom without, we would not be able to survive. They may not be physically here with us in Tapachula or working with our kids on a day-to-day basis, but they help to ensure that our work and our programs are sustainable. They are a part of our huge, crazy, and complicated family and we wouldn’t be where we are today without them!

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People always ask me if I get tired of constantly worrying about where our next funding stream will come from, or if I feel bad about always asking people for more money, more support, more advocating. Some days the answer to both those questions is yes, yes, I do, but then I remind myself that our supporters want to help because so many are invested in our children as much as I am, and they experience joy and pride when they share in the accomplishments and progression of each one of our children. Be it through knowing they have helped to put fresh fruit and vegetables on the table for 30 kids every day for a month, or they have contributed to one of our girls learning to read and write, or one of our young adults gaining the skills and confidence to step independently into the world and towards their exciting future. They’re a part and a huge reason for all of our small and big successes.
It is no surprise to anyone that our children are the people who motivate and inspire me to do more, raise more and love more, but what a lot of people do not know is that it is often Our Global Family who help to keep me inspired on a weekly basis. The lengths that some of these people go to in order to raise funds and awareness for us and the kids is incredible. Our Global Family are the people who help keep me positive and lift me up when things get tough.
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Introducing our global family…
It’s Jacob & Rachel Shields from Compound who have literally managed to get the entire community of Sarasota to stand behind Mision Mexico, our dreams and our kids. They are two of the most generous and dedicated people I have ever met and we are so blessed to have them so invested in our lives and our work.

It’s superstar businessman Steven Marks, Founder of Guzman y Gomez who throughout his own growth and success, has never forgotten us. His support over the years has built projects, programs and futures for our children and young adults.

It is John Mather who has stood by Pam and Alan for years and always stepped up at the exact moment that we are most in need.

It’s Caroline, Jill and Mara who volunteer their time to make up our Melbourne Fundraising Committee spending hours upon hours planning and running events and advocating for us throughout Melbourne.

It’s the amazing people who have ran 251 km across the Sahara Desert, completed marathons, swam across the ocean, rode a rickshaw across India, rode a push bike through Central America, shaved their heads, climbed volcanoes or simply held social events in aid of our children.

It’s Dom & Melody who returned to Tapachula for 5 months to run the Chido Project using street art as a tool for empowerment and expression whilst filling our kids’ lives with creativity. It’s Dom’s dad, Len who became one of our Education Sponsors and often reminds me to love, accept and support our children’s choices as they navigate into adulthood.

It’s the Fleetwood family who sponsor five our children through their education. And our other 45 Education Sponsors who have each stood by one of our children, funding their education costs for years and believing in their potential and their future. It’s our past volunteers – Winnie, the Owen’s, Michelle, James, Lucy, Woo, Gigi, Sophie, Jesse, Scott, Denise, Mike, Mel, Anne, Alan, Andrew, Anna and Larissa who all instantly stepped up and stood behind our new $1 per day Extra Curricular sponsorship when I asked for help.

It’s our other past volunteers who still contact me years after they have left Tapachula, to pass on happy birthday and Feliz Navidad messages to the kids. Or just check in to see if Jennifer is managing her meltdowns better, or if anyone has managed to beat Sammy at chess, or if Alex is still playing the same songs on repeat in the music room, or if we’ve managed to convince Marli and Cesar that brushing their teeth is a non-negotiable daily action (FYI we STILL play the tooth brushing song and do the timer)!

It’s my own friends and family who never fail to support me in supporting the kids. And my friend’s kids who have given up their own pocket money, or fundraised to pay for cinema tickets, birthday cakes and outing for our MM kids (thank you Isla, Jamie, Beckham, Siena). It’s the small, local businesses across the UK, Australia and USA who stand behind us and our dream to break the cycle of abuse and poverty that our kids were born into. Always donating a percentage of their annual profit, despite the fact that they themselves are struggling to make their way in a world full of large, corporate competition.

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Pam always tells me that it takes a village to raise a child, meaning that it takes an entire community of different people interacting with children in order for children to experience and grow in a safe environment. I don’t think I ever really understood the truth behind that proverb until I became part of our Mision Mexico Global Family and watched the ripple effect of that Global Family growing, and the impact and positive change that it can make. When you have 50 children to raise, you need more than a village, you need a support network that spans the globe and stands strong, through the celebrations, the joy, the tears and the tough times. I will be forever thankful to, and inspired by Our Global Family. They have taught me that small choices can have huge impacts, that a strength of a community which comes together has a force like nothing I have seen before, and that the simple decision to do something for others can change the course of a life.

 

Love always, Melissa Biggerstaff,

Fundraising & Projects Manager at Mision Mexico

 

Join our global family today!

  • Volunteer! We’re currently recruiting for the Summer holidays and onwards. So, if you’re interested, please don’t hesitate to contact us via social media or apply at volunteer@lovelifehope.com! We’d especially love people with skills or talents that can hold workshops and programs over the holidays!
  • You can also donate by clicking this link:   https://mydonate.bt.com/charities/misionmexicouk
  • Or if you’d like to become a sponsor, donate regularly or donate to a specific program then email Melissa at events@lovelifehope.com.
  • Or you can email me about joining our new ambassador program which will help support and raise awareness > support@lovelifehope.com.
  • And the easiest one! You can share this blog and support our social media by clicking these links…
  • https://www.instagram.com/misionmexico/
  • https://twitter.com/mision_mexico
  • https://www.facebook.com/MisionMexicoChildren

Gracias x

Chido Project (1)

Finding home.

 

This year, I’ve found it challenging to define the word ‘home’. After travelling year upon year, with endless amounts of moves, I couldn’t be further from finding ‘my place in the world’.

The last five months, I’ve been living back in my hometown. And most people in the small town that I grew up in have lived in the same four walls for all their lives. I’ve had a total of 6 addresses just in that town alone. On top of that, I’ve spent a year of my life from my backpack travelling Asia, South America and unpacking my bag for a few months in China and Mexico. And more recently, I made my move to London where I stayed for 3 years under 3 more different addresses. And now I’m back ‘home’ but I’ve never felt so unsettled. *update I’m now back in China where I’ve semi-settled, found a new place, have a daily route to work and now have another home address. Deep breath*

So, in my head (and to you), I’ve been trying to work out what and where ‘home’ is. What does home really mean? Have I come home? Do I have to build a home in just one place? Is home even a building? Is it a place? Is it a feeling? Or a person? (I know, cliché). Where is my place in the world and why am I struggling so hard to find it?

And you’re probably thinking why it’s so important. What on earth is she talking about now?! But seriously (when I was writing this over the Christmas period when families are supposedly all gathering in their ‘homes’ to spread joy and festive love) I couldn’t help but wonder that this word that people find so much comfort in, this word that’s meant to mean everything, the word we go to when we’re lost or run to for safety. What if someone doesn’t have this word? What do they have? Where do we go? I’m doing all the running, in fact I constantly have one foot out the door, why can I not just bloody settle? *and these thoughts caused me so much anxiety at the time I started this blog but it’s always in the back of my mind as I travel and try to find new places to be. The idea of being ‘lost’ and the pressures to ‘find your place’ can be overwhelming ok. Hence my brain going into overdrive*

Perhaps it’s because in my hometown I feel surrounded by ghosts of people that I left in my past, and memories that I don’t want to revisit, and versions of me that I don’t want to remember. My hometown will never feel like a home for me. And I think that’s the same for lots of people. You never know what people have to go home to. Home isn’t always a happy place. It’s not always safety or comforting. Home can be something we run from.

Or perhaps it’s because I’ve travelled and moved too much. Maybe settling will never be an option for me and that might be okay. I can’t think of one place that I’d want to spend even 5 years yet alone my life. Maybe I just haven’t found the right ‘home’ yet.

Or maybe it’s because home is a feeling. A few months after I started writing this and I’m in a strange place of between. But I’ve come to more of a conclusion now and feel a lot less anxiety lol. Home is a feeling. A feeling of familiarity, comfort and safety. A few months ago, I thought my childhood and choices in life meant I’d always have the feeling of instability and lack of safety, but, it might not be so bad. Maybe I’m still hunting for my ‘home’, someone to share this beautiful life with and he’ll remind me it’s not the about destination “it’s about the journey Vin”, he’ll say as he commits to a lifetime of journey-ing around the world with me…

Right now, for me, I feel at home in many countries, with many people. I walk around my new city in China and feel familiarity and warmth in people, like the last time I was here was four days ago and not four years. Every day I look forward to the day I’ll fly back to Mexico, the home of Mision Mexico and the people whose lives are still joined with mine. It’s the feeling after a Skype session with my loved ones then seeing them and hugging them after months of being apart. I’ve been on the run around the world leaving parts of myself everywhere. And now, my place in the world is all over the world and that is such a blessing. My home is in me and in my people.

Some food for thought and it’s a good watch!

Ever felt lost or need a chat? Give me a shout!

Have a fab day and follow my IG adventures @vanishamay

V

X

p.s miss you kiss you huns and fam ♥️

Mental health and me: bringing back my power.

Part Two

“It’s interesting to note that the most kind and courageous souls you meet in life tend to be those who’ve faced the most cruelty and conflict. This vicious world might sharpen us like a blade, but whether we use that power to protect people or cause them pain is always our choice.”  

Beau Taplin

I’ve always been quite aware of my thoughts, feelings and actions. I think about everything, I analyse all situations and I pick apart everything I come across. Sometimes this is a curse, but mostly I’m thankful AF for this mind. I read, I research, I feel and I’m present. But a month ago, I tripped and my mind took a turn and fell into a black hole. I was not present. I read only bad things, tortured myself with negative thoughts and filled my days with unhealthy behaviour. Not good times.

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I read this blog that expressed how anxiety, depression and self-esteem was all an effect of the sick people in our infected society. It said how depression is not a fault of the individual. That probably, and more possibly, it was “all the crap and ideas I’d internalised from other people” which has most definitely been built up over a long period of time. That this didn’t happen overnight, and it wasn’t just over the last guy who left me in disappointment. But instead this was a build-up of years and heaps of moments of multiple disappointments and sadness and hurt and negativity from my experiences and those around me. I found myself thinking over situations that happened three months ago, and thirteen years ago. Which kinda made sense.

It’s quite possible that although we’re talking about mental health more than ever, it’s also a huge sign that something is going wrong with our lifestyles, the way we live and the kind of people we are becoming.  

“We do not come alone to the idea of being worthless, useless, and that we deserve to suffer…It’s a thing about mental health that needs saying and saying again. Most of us do not fall apart on our own. We fall apart for reasons that are outside our heads. Trying to find a personal solution to this is often futile. If environments are sick, the people in them will become and remain sick. Where people exploit each other, treat each other as worthless, expendable, or mock visible suffering, things only get worse.” – https://druidlife.wordpress.com/2017/07/21/anxiety-depression-and-self-esteem/ 

 

However, there is another side to this. And although we do not fall apart on our own, we do decide how long we stay in pieces, we decide what kind of people we want to be and we decide whether we want make our lives and this world a worse or better place. Yes, maybe if people were kinder to each other than we wouldn’t ever feel so worthless. If people acted with more love and understanding rather than their selfishness and ego then perhaps the world would work differently.

But, unfortunately, that’s the world we live in. People are selfish and unforgivable at times. People are not afraid to cause pain if it’s for their own benefit. The world is filled with good people, and absolute horrors. What should be done? We can blame, we can attack or we can understand that although their behaviour is like a poison, they’re minds are probably full of anger, hurt and lack of love, life and empathy. And that’s actually more of a representation on society. And that’s actually quite sad.

Will people disappoint? Yes, it’s bound to happen over and over again. Is this fair? No, of course not, but does the behaviour say more about them than you? Yes, of course.  So, how will my situation change? By myself.

Nikita Gill

I cannot change the way people behave. I cannot change what’s happened in the past. And I cannot change how sick the people in these unfortunate environments may be. But I can change my impact. I can change how I react to these behaviours. I can learn from my past. I can remove myself from these people and I can change my environment.

Two months ago, my mind played on repeat all the times that I felt hurt, along with all the people who caused me even the slightest bit of pain, but now my thoughts have changed to how grateful I am that I am able to see and be different to them. Something went so wrong in their lives (and not always by fault of their own), that they’ve forgotten parts of their humanity and now think it’s somewhat acceptable to treat another human being in an immoral way. I’m grateful that the pain in my life has filled my heart with flowers and not stone, unlike them. Since, my last blog ‘Mental health and me‘, I feel all sorts of power. I see a tunnel which is filled with light, hope and love.

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“Hurt people hurt people. That’s how pain patterns gets passed on, generation after generation after generation. Break the chain today. Meet anger with sympathy, contempt with compassion, cruelty with kindness. Greet grimaces with smiles. Forgive and forget about finding fault. Love is the weapon of the future.” – I love this.

Although our environments may be filled with sick people, and life won’t always seem fair, we can ultimately choose two sides. To be like them, or to be better. I choose love. I choose kindness and I choose to be nothing like them. Our hearts and minds are different, and I choose to bring more good to this world than bad. How can this world possibly have more bad in it?! It’s easy to hate, and it’s easy to feel full of hate. It’s not so easy to work on peace every single day, but it’s possible. Fight for that everyday. We can decide who we want to be. We can be the good in our environments and impact this world and our lives in ways that some will never be able to. And this has helped my mental health. And this brings me back my purpose and peace. And this brings me back my power.  

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Let’s choose to be the kinder ones, the more understanding and the more loving. A mantra that still applies.

Vanisha

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Life beyond Misión México

Preparing young adults for life beyond Misión Mexico…

Our #1 goal at Misión Mexico is to provide the option of shelter and on-going education for all of the children that walk through our doors. We aim to help break the cycle of poverty that exists for 21.2 million children and adolescents in Mexico, by providing opportunity, chances and choices for our young people, which includes our final program, YTP. Our Youth Transition Program (YTP) focuses on supporting our young people at Misión Mexico through the transition into adulthood, independent living and higher education.

The focus is to empower these young people in a bid to break the cycle of poverty and abuse, and further create confident, competent young adults and positive role models who can successfully live independently.” – Luke, YTP Coordinator

A History of YTP

  1. Rewind back to 2014 when YTP was first piloted with our first female transition house! Four of our young ladies, aged 19-22 years old, moved into the house with our full-time YTP coordinator and mentor. With the support of the coordinator, our young adults develop skills such as independent and practical living, health and nutrition, positive role modelling, financial planning and budgeting, and practical support sourcing employment. Personal development is also a critical element of the program which aims to improve confidence, interpersonal and negotiation skills, and self-motivation.
  2. The next exciting branch of YTP was our youth cooking program and girls’ youth groups, which were implemented for our children aged 13 years and over. At this age, we begin the preparation phase which helps identify the strategies and actions necessary to develop their independent and life skills, whilst residing at our main refuge.
  3. 18 months later, the program extended to include our first male transition house and boys’ youth groups!
  4. After four years, 9 of our young adults have moved through our two transition houses and into independent living with 7 more currently living in our YTP today!

Why is YTP so important?

YTP brings opportunity and support for those first tricky years of adulthood as they leave our main family home at 18 years old. Some of you may be thinking that it’s kind of unnecessary and comparing it to your own lives, however life in Tapachula is extremely different and difficult, and our young adults would not have as many opportunities or choices if it wasn’t for Misión Mexico and programs such as YTP. YTP enables our young adults to have the opportunity to grow and reach their full potential, transitioning them to independent living whilst allowing them to continue with their higher education and offering multiple avenues and choices for their futures.

  • In developing, low-income countries, like Mexico, every additional year of education can increase a person’s future income by an average of 10%.
  • 6 million Mexican children and adolescents dropped out of school in 2012, to join the second largest child labour force in Latin America. These young people probably had very limed choices. This labour force includes children who have traded classrooms and pencils for their families, farming and crime. This labour force included some of our own children at Misión Mexico.
  • In 2012, 21.2 million children and adolescents in Mexico were living in poverty, with more than six million children aged 3-17 out of school. The lack of formal education in childhood often limits the available opportunities and choices in adulthood, which in turn continues the cycle of poverty and crime.

Where are they now?

We have seen some great successes with our young adults who have transitioned through YTP and into independent living! We’re excited to say that we’ve had our first ever female university graduate who quickly secured full-time employment and recently received her first promotion (amazing)! Whilst four are living independently whilst continuing with their higher education and university degrees. We’ve celebrated marriages, first homes, full-time employment, and a number of our YTP young adults are even putting their life skills to use whilst exploring the big wide world outside of Tapachula! YTP has truly been life-changing.

The Future of YTP

There are currently 20 young people living in the main Misión Mexico house in addition to the 6 young adults living in our two gendered transition houses. Over 70% of Misión Mexico youth are involved in some aspect of the YTP as our program starts from 13 years old. At this age, we begin the preparation phase which helps identify the strategies and actions necessary to develop their independent skills through cooking and small group classes. Currently 23% of the current household are over 18 years old and within the next three years, 58% of them will be over 18 years old which means that YTP is essential and growing rapidly!

Our goal at Misión México is to provide support, love, options and choice to all the children that come into our home. Not all our young adults choose the root of university, higher education or even YTP living, and instead choose to follow other paths beyond their lives at Mision Mexico. But, that’s what this is ultimately all about; choice.

YTP is one of our most vital and ever-expanding programs, and we wouldn’t be anywhere without your help. We are so grateful for the years of support, love and hope that you’ve shown to us and can’t wait to continue the journey for our next bunch of YTP-ers over the coming years!

Make some small choices today!

  • For as little as $10 per month you can become one of our Youth Transition Program Sponsors and help our young adults become the best they can be! You can email events@lovelifehope.com if you’re interested in becoming a YTP sponsors
  • Volunteer! We’re currently recruiting for April 2018 and onwards. So, if you’re interested, please don’t hesitate to contact us via social media or apply at volunteer@lovelifehope.com!
  • Share this blog and our #YTPWednesdays campaigns via below…
  • You can follow and support our social media by clicking these links…
  • https://www.instagram.com/misionmexico/
  • https://twitter.com/mision_mexico
  • https://www.facebook.com/MisionMexicoChildren

We can’t wait to meet you all!

Vanisha

With big help from Luke Owen, Melissa Biggerstaff and Founder, Pamela Skuse

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Reads and resources:

https://mexiconewsdaily.com/news/kids-at-work-there-are-3-6-million-in-mexico/

http://www.aljazeera.com/blogs/americas/2016/01/mexico-child-labour-perils-lost-education-160127055528295.html

https://probdes.iiec.unam.mx/en/revistas/v45n178/body/v45n178a5_1.php

10 steps to the best year yet!

YAY! It’s finally 2018. Which usually means nothing to me. I’m not one to shout around “new year, new me” but this new year is an exception. This new year has come at a time where I’ve needed change and a reason to change more than ever before. This new year, I’m all about new focuses, new hopes, and perhaps not a new me but, a bolder, fiercer and better me. And I can’t bloody wait for it all. So, in line with a ‘new year, new me’ comes my New Year resolutions. Here are my 10 goals/resolutions/guidelines for 2018 which I hope may spark some inspiration and oomph for all of you who may need it too 😊

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  1. Do good for your own good

I recently read that being kinder was one of the most life-changing New Year resolutions for anybody to practice. One small deed a day could change a life, including your own. Go out of your way to do something positive in the world like helping a stranger or volunteering. Not only will you be doing good, but you’ll automatically feel good too.

My goals:

  • One deed a day.

Tips: Buy flowers for someone, cook for your family, plant a tree, volunteer, smile at a stranger, campaign more.

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  1. Healthy body

This year I vow to try it all. Yoga, karate, gym, eating less meat, and getting my 5-a-day. Living a healthy life isn’t just about losing weight, but also about being physically fit, and giving lots of love to your body, plus it’s all better for the planet.Last year, I climbed Machu Picchu mountain and it was bloody hard! This year, I want to climb a mountain with less struggle. And it’s also true, a healthy body brings a healthy mind and life, hence resolution #3…

My goals:

  • Join the gym (which I done today, yay)
  • By the end of the year: to feel physically better, lose extra rolls, gain body confidence
  • Climb a mountain

Tips: Join the local gym, make a food plan, walk more, try a new class, buy fresher food.

  1. Healthy mind

My mental health took a bit of a bash in last year, so, this year I vow to do all that I can to move away from that place and into a better, healthier and more positive mindset. A healthy mind leads to a healthy body and a healthy life. You’d be a fool not to invest so much into your own self and mind.

I’m going to measure this by –

  • breaking unhealthy habits and placing them with good habits like nail biting (caused by stress and is abso rank) –> Reading, painting, writing (de-stress, get clever, get creative, keep the hands busy).
  • De-cluttering my life, selling old clothes, and living more minimally (check out the documentary on Netflix – Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things, it will change your life!). I’ve recently wiped my iTunes too and started fresh with the music and things I listen to everyday. It feels so good to start fresh and get rid.

Tips: Cut down alcohol intake, adapt a better sleep pattern, regulate the time that you spend on social media, write a diary, exercise.

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  1. Know your worth

The tough times from 2017 left me feeling like I was not worthy of being loved, like I didn’t deserve the truth and that people thought it was okay to treat me like sh*t. The lessons I learnt from this? Some people lie, cheat, and will find all sorts of ways to hurt you. That’s life, and that’s them. It’s not a reflection on you. It does not mean that you are not enough, or unworthy or are undeserving of ever being treated well. Not everyone has the same heart as you, and the way people treat you reflects them, not you. YOU ARE A QUEEN. Or a King. And you’ve done incredible things, and you’re an amazing person, and probably achieved a lot more than these people ever will. So, forget them, treat yourself well, find peace, give yourself a break and trust yourself so much that you can erase anyone who thinks it’s ever okay to break any part of you (pep talk to myself right there!).

Tips: This is obviously hard to measure but I’ve just bought a book called You can heal your life by Louise Hay which is dedicated to helping you find your own self-worth, love and acceptance. I’ll let you know how it goes… and if in 6 months time you find yourself erased from my life, sorry not sorry.

  1. Give, give, give! But not to them…

My career and life are both spent giving, which is fine considering I volunteer and have dreams of being in the humanitarian sector. But, does that mean everyone deserves all that I have to give? Ha-ha no. One of the toughest life lessons is knowing when to stop giving. Know the difference between someone who needs, deserves and cherishes the time, attention and love that you give, to someone who is fully taking advantage of you. In 2017, people drained me from all that I had to give until I felt empty. This year, I’m taking all of that back and giving it all to myself and the people who truly appreciate it all, whilst laughing in 2017’s face.

Tips: volunteer, spend time with my loved ones, spend time with myself

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  1. Be bold, be brave and never stop dreaming

The path to achieve my dream job is a long and messy one. It requires years of unpaid volunteer work, which means years of savings to back me up. Hello 2018, my year of money making and saving (made challenging due to my needs of being far away). So, I’ve made the bold and brave decision to move to China, I’ve signed a year-long contract and will be leaving soon to start the next chapter of my life. It doesn’t always have to be so extreme, but never stop chasing your passions. There’s endless amounts of discovery and ways to achieve your dreams.

My goals:

  • Move to a new country
  • Save money to volunteer

Tips: JUST GO FOR IT. Life is too short. Be brave. Go for it all. And realistically, create a savings account, do some research, plan your steps.

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  1. Try new things

Ever seen Jim Carrey in Yes Man? My goal is to be him this year. Obviously not literally, and only to a certain extent, but I want my year to be filled with “oh wells” and “why not’s?” rather than “what ifs”. I want to try everything. And I won’t be scared to fail, which is a lesson I learnt thanks to my great pal, 2017. But, to keep it realistic, my goal is 10 new things. From saying yes to a new food to visiting a new country to trying a new gym class.

My goals:

  1. Joined a gym!                          6.
  2. New job in China                   7.
  3.                                                    8.
  4.                                                    9.
  5.                                                  10.

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  1. Feed the brain

This year, I also vow to keep learning. I want to read more books, I plan to re-start my mandarin, I’d like to blog more, and I want to fill my brain with new things from all over the world. Educate, learn, be productive and stuff the brain. It’s all possible and easier than ever. You’re never too old, or too young, and it’s never too late.

My goals:

  • Update my website and blog more
  • Buy new books to read
  • Cut down Netflix and learn Chinese </3

Tips: Make lists of things you’d like to achieve for daily, weekly and even yearly. Find a book genre that you’re in to, or even watch more documentaries! Research things and never stop asking questions.

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  1. Stay motivated

It’s so hard to stay on track and be inspired when you’re stuck in a rut and life seems to be going wrong on every level. BUT, it’s so important. In 2017, I lost so much focus and inspo that it completely messed me up. Until I found it again. I started reading again, making my lists, getting organised and finding ways to motivate myself again. And now I feel on top form. But just in case…

My goals:

  • Surround yourself with people that bring out the best in you
  • Make lists (like this one) to track progress and give reminders

Tips: Make a power playlist that makes you want to run the world every time you listen to it, remind yourself how phenomenal you are, think about all the greatness you’ve yet to achieve.

  1. LOVE YOURSELF

If you didn’t get the jist already, my 2018 priority is me. I’ve grown, and I’ve changed, and I fully choose myself. All the love, happiness and kindness that I so freely gave out before, I’m giving to myself. Why? Because self-love is the most important kind of love. Because I am going to smash 2018. Because I deserve it all.

And if you’re reading this, you probably deserve it too! Love yourself and love your life HARD. Make some goals, get inspired and make 2018 a wonderful year for you. I am too excited for it all.

Cheers! Here’s to me, you and 2018 🎉

Vanisha

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Follow my twitter and instagram @vanishamay

Making a difference made easy.

So, as Christmas gets closer and we’re all in giving mode, I want to shed light on a super important cause and how you could do something different this year at Christmas time.  Not sure what to get your family for Christmas this year? Want to make an impact and do something positive for the world? Let me tell you all about Mision Mexico and how your effort could help…

Who are Mision Mexico?

Pamela and Alan Skuse visited Tapachula, Chiapas in 2000 to help care for 7 children. Passionate about making a difference and wanting to do more, the couple have spent the last 17 years caring for over 250 children.

Thanks to donations and dedicated people like you, Pam and Alan were able to build a home for their new family as well as their recent project in the poorer community of Puerto Chiapas; Mision Surf. Every school lesson, every pair of shoes, every bed, and every single achievement has been made possible thanks to you.

There are so many ways to get involved, and we’d love you to join to help us carry on with our Mexican mission!

“Giving is not just about making a donation. It’s about making a difference” – Kathy Calvin

So, how can you make a difference today?

1. Sponsor our teens big volcano climb!

This Christmas, our teens are climbing Central America’s 2nd largest volcano in order to raise funds for a new van which will help transport all of our children with more ease (and more seats so we’re not all sitting on each other’s laps!). This is our main Christmas fundraising event and one of our most exciting as the kids get involved themselves.

You can start the giving by clicking this link if you’re in Australia… https://misionmexico-gdg-j731n.raisely.com/volcano2017 

Or this link if you’re giving from the UK… https://mydonate.bt.com/events/volcano2017

If you are giving from Australia, you will receive a tax deductible receipt for all donations over $2. If you are giving from the UK and are a UK tax payer, you can opt into the Gift Aid scheme and increase the value of your donation by 25% – at no extra cost to you.

2. Create your own fundraiser!

Fundraising is a fantastic way to help raise large amounts of money from multiple people for a special cause like Mision Mexico. But if you’re unsure about what to do, or where to start, or how you can make your fundraiser as fun as possible, then look no further. This is all about how we can help you to help us!

Below are my fave top 10 ideas for starting your own fundraiser today!

  1. Skydive, white water raft, bungee jump – this is for all the adrenaline junkies out there! Why not go absolutely crazy and tick off your bucket list whilst raising for charity?!
  2. A cake sale. It’s simple, quick and yummy.
  3. Sponsored sports. You could run a marathon, swim the local river or even hold a trampolining event!
  4. For all of them bad habits, and one of the hardest to do in my opinion(!) – give up something you love. Like, alcohol, chocolate, smoking, biting your nails, or you could even give up your voice!
  5. Go carol singing!
  6. Hold an event at your workplace, church or in your community. We recently had an wonderful donation from Tango Embrace’s Day of the Dead Milonga event. Food, dance and a fundraiser all in one event. Amazing!
  7. You could get creative and host a ‘Come dine with me’ night, or even break a world record!
  8. Of course, the hairy ideas made it to my top ten just for comical/bravery reasons. Shave your hair off? Grow your beard out? Have a full body wax? Just throwing it out there guys…
  9. Get ya pets involved. Start dog walking, do a dog jog,
  10. Do a year of good deeds. This one was my favourite and one that I’d never heard of before. You, along with your friends and family can spend a year or as long as you like doing good deeds and sharing them! Feeding the homeless, helping the elderly, reading at the local library, there’s definitely a heap of good to do whilst raising money for something good!

3. Got a talent or skill to share? Get involved!

We accept volunteers all year round but we’re especially looking for people who have special skills or talents and wouldn’t mind sharing them in a workshop for our children. Yoga, surfing, dance, calligraphy, vetting, chefs, footballers, you name it, we want it! Our kids have an array of interests and passions, so we’d love you to come stay with us and help to explore, enhance and expand on their abilities.

 4. Follow, share and donate

Last but not least, you can always donate a one-off or monthly donation by visiting this link… and helping us raise awareness by telling your friends about us, sharing our social media and liking our posts. We heavily rely on you guys for donations, and even more so on our social media for even reaching you guys in the first place! Click this link to make a donation today… http://lovelifehope.com/donate/

See something you like? Got a different idea? Want to get involved? For further enquiries, applications and questions please message us via facebook, instagram, twitter or email at volunteer@lovelifehope.com.

Mision Mexico wouldn’t be where it is today without your suppport and donations. We’re forever grateful to all our past, present and future supporters. Let’s make this a Christmas to remember and start the new year full of love, life and hope. We can’t wait to hear from you all!

Gracias and Feliz Navidad!

Vanisha

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Instagram: @vanishamay and @misionmexico
Twitter: @misionmexico
Follow us on Facebook too! https://www.facebook.com/MisionMexicoChildren/
http://www.lovelifehope.com

Mexico: Día De Los Muertos. Spooky or spectacular? 

Dia De Los Meurtos (or Day of the Dead) is known worldwide as the one of the biggest celebrations of the dead. Festivals, food, flowers and a tonne of skulls and make-up turn the taboo subject of death as we know it in the West into a fun, colourful and completely opposite method of dealing with loss. But is the traditional celebration spectacular or just plain spooky? This year with the children at Mision Mexico, we’ll find out!

 

Four fun facts that you didn’t know about Día de los Muertos:

  1. Día de los Muertos is celebrated on the 1st and 2nd November, not on 31st October! Although the theme is death and it’s closely celebrated near Halloween, the traditions and customs are extremely different. Mexicans create altars (la ofrenda) in their homes and cemeteries to invite their lost ones back down to earth for a huge celebration of their lives! There’s no mourning, fear or sadness, just love, joy and laughter! This is incredibly important for our children also and a lovely way to help with trauma and loss.
  2. Who knows what the food is like in Heaven? Just in case the departed might be missing out on their favourite meals, families make sure to provide heaps of food, drinks and all their loved ones’ favourite things as an offering. It’s also believed that the food will help with the tiredness of travelling from the heavens and back. Pan de meurto and pan dulce (bread of the dead and sweet bread) is usually offered along with atole (sweet porridge) and sugar skulls.
  3. Cemeteries are filled with families, flowers and candles which sounds similar to ours in the west, but you’ll find the atmosphere and behaviour to be in extreme contrast. Children run around playing and families laugh as they share fond memories together. People are at one with death. Life and death come together in the most colourful and uplifting way.
  4. As well as being a fun activity for the day (for the kids and us!), the popular sugar skull face painting has real meaning behind it. Calaveras and Careinas were originally worn and painted on to warn off death. And the holiday itself is an indigenous tradition and recognised by UNESCO.

 

At Mision Mexico, we encourage and celebrate these important traditions and celebrations. “Our altar is still up, and every morning the kids light the candles and have a moment to think about those who have passed. They also spend the day trying to set fire to sticks and paper, but I’m pretty sure that’s not a countrywide tradition!” – Melissa, Fundraising and Events Manager

 

So, spooky or spectacular? I think… Spectacular! How incredible and beautiful to be so at peace with one of the most natural things on the planet. It’s perfect for family time and bringing each other closer to celebrate and remember those we once walked the earth with. And also, a magical time to visit the spectacular country of Mexico!

 

Interested in the dead like I am?

Read my blog about living with the dead in Indonesia. Another fascinating but amazing way of coping with loss and celebrating loved ones along with being one of my most unforgettable travel experiences! https://vanishamay.com/2017/04/28/living-with-the-dead-could-you-do-it/

 

Interested in volunteering at Mision Mexico?

You can apply at volunteers@lovelifehope.com! We’d love to hear from you! Must be over 21 and willing to commit for 6 weeks minimum.

 

Thanks for reading!

Vanisha

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Instagram: @vanishamay and @misionmexicovolunteers

Twitter: @misionmexico

Follow us on Facebook too! https://www.facebook.com/MisionMexicoChildren/

 

 

Photograph credits to previous volunteers at Mision Mexico**