Platform NextGeneration international oratory competition

Greetings and salutations, dear reader!😊 I come seeking your support in winning for Africa and Uganda!

Global Unites is an organisation that empowers youth all over the world to be active in peace making initiatives in their countries all while addressing the challenges that hinder this from happening. They have organised a competition with four topics to choose from which seek to address some of the challenges brought about by this pandemic.

I am taking part and I chose topic 3 because children need to be prioritized too in regards to mental health. It starts with getting our voices out there. A girl needs your votes to win this competition😊🙏🏾Please like, retweet and share the video as widely as you can. More likes count towards getting into the final. Deadline for liking and sharing is 5th August, 2021.

Thank you for reading! Let’s get this win for Africa!

For July +…

…I thought I’d share with you, dear reader, the lessons I picked up from the first half of 2021. They are reflections really☺️but also things I’d love to carry on for the remaining half. And so, here we are:

1. Old is gold. It’s been said experience is the best teacher and who better to put some flesh on this adage than the people who’ve walked life before us? Our parents and their friends, well basically their generation, I believe have an eye for the detail of life that us, the younger generation, may not exactly be keen to note. Detail we miss out because we tend to be myopic at times. Detail we miss because we are at times hungry for the wrong things. Detail we miss because we don’t have the patience to do life in its enterity and are quick to rush into almost everything we set our hearts to do. I like to say cliches are forgotten truths because the things that matter have been thrown out the door and exchanged for whatever seems appealing these days. Enough of this madness that their ideas or speech or words of wisdom are archaic. They’ve got immense value if which we paid attention to would save us from quite a number of mistakes. Sure, sometimes these can be questionable as pointed out by Benjamin but a little understanding as to why would go a long way.

2. Parents can actually be friends. This one’s sort of in connection to the first but I’ll expound on it a bit differently. As the years go by, I appreciate that I get to know my mum as a human being. You know, her thought patterns, her personality and all. When we’re little we don’t focus much on this but I think that depends on the relationship between the child and the parent as it grows. Some children are closer to their parents than others. Regardless, it is very possible to have parents as friends. Easier said than done especially in the years of estrangement during adolescence but possible when there’s a genuine willingness to know them beyond their parental roles. Make random calls checking in. Surprise them for their birthdays. Invest in spending quality time with them. Take those pictures for memories. Go out with them😊Do for them what you would do for your friends. It’s not lost on me that there are people out there who deem this impossible for a number of reasons🥺My heart goes out to you. If there happen to be guardians or relatives that have stood in the gap, this could be something to look into for them🌼

Ma☺️

3. Dear youth, today is the day. Youth lays a foundation for life ahead in various aspects of life. Spiritually. Financially. Mentally. Physically. And everything else lly, you name it. It’s usually affected by what you do with your life now. Did that scare you a little bit? Because it should. Waiting to do life right when you’re older is a hoax. It starts today. Now. Of course we take each day as it comes. But make use of each day in the right way to avoid the had I known, I wish, If only did this years back talk. Nothing stings like regret.

4. Friendships. Keep them. Be intentional about them. Honour the ones you call friends. Have a close knit inner circle to do life with. Respect them. Show up for them. And above all, LOVE THEM. I’ll dwell on this bit a little longer. Love is by far one of the greatest phenomenons. And world over it is spoken of very loudly and boldly. Sadly, very few walk the talk. We say good friends should be willing to sacrifice, love unconditionally despite our weaknesses, stand with us in the nays of life, support us, forgive us when we hurt them, correct us(though for some they call this judgement🤦🏾‍♀️) The question isn’t if they can be able to do all this and more. It is Can you do this for them? I’ll probably do a whole separate writing on love but I do hope you get the gist of what am trying to put across. Walk the talk of love. Love in its fullness. 1 Corinthians 13 spells it out perfectly.

My tribe 🖤🥺

5. There’s such a thing as appropriate boldness. There’s a time for everything under the sun. Ecclesiastes 3:1. A time to speak out, share and assert views. And a time to be quiet and learn no matter how seemingly urgent it is to speak up. There’s more learnt in the silence of things than in the noise. For if noise is all we hear, when would we decipher the many voices we hear, our own inclusive? Don’t get me wrong😅Speaking up is important. Necessary even. It is more important to know when though.

Next half of the year, here we come💃🏾do share what you’ve learnt in the first 6 months of this year ☺️ I’d love to hear from you.

Day 359

Hey there.

Thought I’d share a little something to close this year😊more of a reflection really.

Sigh. But it’s a sigh of relief and coming mostly from a place of peace. And hope. And excitement. Maybe it’s because Christmas is near. Or maybe because am actually seriously looking forward to 2021. Or maybe because new beginnings make me happy, happy, happy. Or maybe because we made it. You and I, dear reader, actually made it to the end of this year. Stop. Let’s repeat that. We made it to the end of this year! Does that sink in? Does it humble you that even with the crazy death tolls this year, you’re still here? Does it shake you that the Lord took you through all the 359 days of this year, no matter how differently each day turned out?Never mind that they’re 7 days to end the year(it’s Christmas Eve in Uganda) we’re alive today.

Digest this for a minute.

Happy holidays🤗

My Uganda🇺🇬✊🏾

Am not used to this kind of Uganda. I didn’t sign up for gruesome headlines of death counts and vicious injuries. I didn’t sign up for armed forces releasing fire on unarmed civilians. I didn’t sign up for being scared half to death of stray bullets. I surely didn’t sign up for the sound of teargas canisters being used just meters away. In my head, it all feels like a very bad scene from one of those war movies. Because I know I didn’t just see a car run over innocent civilians. And my heart didn’t cringe at the sight of so much blood on social media. Plus, am also very sure I don’t have to constantly call my loved ones to ask if all is well wherever they are. And yet it actually happened. This is happening.

I can literally only think of our anthem now in response to all that’s going on.  Thank God it’s a prayer.

O Uganda! May God uphold thee
We lay our future in thy hands
United,free, for liberty
Together we’ll always stand

O Uganda! The land of freedom
Our love and labour we give
And with neighbours all
At our country’s call
In peace and friendship we live

O Uganda! The land that feeds us
By sun and fertile soil grown
For our own dear land
We’ll always stand
The Pearl of Africa’s crown

Dear Uganda,
To our knees we go for you🙏🏾🇺🇬

Mental health awareness: Part 3

Another week. I can’t begin to wrap my head around the fact that August is going. Gone. Done. Over. 2020, huh?😅 But oh well, life will go on. This week started out pretty amazing💃🏽The cold is slowly becoming a constant here in Uganda. Now and then sunshine but the rain is dominating😌I pray you’re ok from wherever you’re reading this. A small reminder to count those blessings above all else! There’s always reason to give thanks to the Almighty.

My apologies. Today is Tuesday. So this week, I’ll be sharing with you about a much more sensitive topic. Lately I’ve come to question the system of order and functionality in our country. COVID-19 threw the entire world off balance, hands down. Drastic changes here and there. Loss of jobs. Depleted financial resources. Isolation. Starvation. Restricted movement. It’s been a hard time for everyone. The mental health crisis all over the world has been and become a great concern. Depression. Anxiety. Stress. Mood disorders. There’s also been a rise in cases of violence; especially gender based violence, domestic violence, theft, murder. Suicide cases. The headlines have not been pleasant at all. I’ve actually come to dread news time. It’s tragedy after tragedy. And the first response team to all this madness? Police. To an extreme, the help of the army has been solicited. Question is: Are they ready to handle all this?

Am probably in no place to bring this forth but I’d rather questions like this are asked other than brushed under the rug. What kind of training do security forces undergo? Are they really prepared to work with human beings and the challenges they face? And in light of this current pandemic, were they mentally equipped by their administration to enforce the directives put in place? In March this year, there were numerous videos and reports of use excessive force by security forces to enforce directives to frustrate the spread of the virus in countries around the world. Their level of force and manhandling is something I’ve personally never been able to recover from. Lives have been lost because of this inhumane system of operation. Lives we’ll never get back. Because some guy felt it ok to point his gun at someone and end their life in the name of violation of orders?!😤No matter the case, violence never solved anything. Murder makes it worse.

The most gripping of these cases for me is about the late Emmanuel Tegu who was a student of Makerere University and lost his life due to police brutality. Social media was up in arms over Tegu’s case. #JusticeforTegu was a trending topic on Twitter. A lot, a lot, a lot was said on the issue. But I lately discovered an article that focused on the issue from the scope of mental health. https://mulengeranews.com/emmanuel-tegus-sad-incident-what-society-really-needs-to-know-about-mental-illness/ Do check it out. It’s very informative about what Tegu and plenty of other people with bipolar disorder face.

Why police brutality?

The men and women in uniform that swore to serve and protect the people are also human beings. Mental health crises know no one. They too suffer psychological torture. Whatever training they receive to do their jobs with efficiency and upmost intelligence must include psychological support to avoid painful headlines but more importantly, to preserve human life and rekindle humanity’s trust in them, for everyone’s sake. Until actual action to ensure this initiative is put in place, this vicious cycle with broken families and more mental illnesses as its product will become a never ending system of life with hashtags as the only effort to put an end to it. Humanity has cried enough. We need action.

As always, do share your thoughts in the comment section. I’d love to hear from you.

Thank you for reading.

Blessings!✨

The Liebster Award 2

It’s been a while since I did blogging awards. Thank you Moreblessing https://moreblessingbethel.wordpress.com/ and Melody https://preciousmelodyblog.wordpress.com/ for this particular nomination that I received from both of you😊 These two lovely ladies are beautiful writers. They’re candid and brilliant and strong and just visit their blogs already😌

Rules:

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog

2. Answer the 11 questions given to you

3. Nominate 11 bloggers

4. Ask your nominees 11 questions

5. Notify your nominees once you have uploaded your post

The Q & A:

1. What’s taking most of my headspace? 🤭Gift ideas for my family and friends next year. Am super duper excited with what I’ve been able to come up with.

2. What’s the kindest thing I have experienced from a stranger? Every time a stranger opens up a seat for me in a taxi.

3. What book has influenced you the most? The Bible. Everything about life is in there. Literally, everything.

4. What/ Who makes me laugh the most? Animations are my happy place😂those things are just silly.

5. If I could travel back in time, what year would you travel to- why? 2 years. 2012 to re-live the months before Daddy rested. 2016. It was a great year.

6.What word do you always mispronounce? 😅Can’t think of any right now.

7.Do you collect anything? Notebooks and receipts from the times I got out with my inner circle😊the memories

8. If you had a warning label, what would yours say? Jesus first.

9. What song would you say best sums you up? Seasons by Hillsong. On taking each day at a time in the Lord.

10. What would you want to be remembered for? This question warmed my heart. I’d love to be remembered for virtue of empathy and holding firm to the truth of the gospel.

11.Leave a message to your future self Dear Rachel, may you never forget that the Lord is God over your days; yesterday, today and forever.

I nominate anyone who is willing to participate, with the same questions😊

Thank you for reading.

Blessings!✨

Mental health awareness: Part 2

Welcome to part 2 of mental health awareness😊thank you for taking the time to read about this. Am excited to share with you about today’s topic. I pray you’re ok though and that you’re taking each day as it comes. The rain is sort of back in Uganda 🤭this girl’s happy.

About today. Children. According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, a child is a young person especially between infancy and puberty. Different countries define children in different ways. In Uganda, a child is a human being below 18 years of age.

A lot happens to children as they grow up, it’s true. I can only imagine what the children of today go through at school, home, with their peers especially. We live in crazy times and sadly, children have become marginalised. Yes, they’ve always been a vulnerable category of human population but it’s surely gotten worse over the years. Well, today I’ll be focusing particularly on the lockdown experience for children.

There’ve been countless tips on social media, several media power houses and radio stations local and international alike on how to keep adults occupied and productive whilst staying at home to control the spread of COVID-19 but my heart goes out to the children. 15 million children are at home in Uganda because schools were closed. Schools, day care centers, sports clubs, church are some of the many places that have offered children all kinds of support and potential safe spaces for them in their day to day life. Public gatherings are still banned here in Uganda meaning children cannot access these places or their peers as easily as they used to. COVID-19 has catalysed challenges faced by children like child labour, early marriages, sexual abuse, access to harmful content, teenage pregnancies, insecurity in homes and poverty and hunger to mention but a few and recently, information overload that’s difficult for children to understand about COVID-19 plus an increase in mental health challenges. Let’s not forget that besides the average stay-at-home child, there are street children, children with disabilities and children in refugee camps. They have their own set of issues coupled with the above, a true recipe for disaster.

Because of the severity of these challenges, psychological distress is and has been a common occurrence among them. Different age groups of children respond uniquely to crises because of psychological distress. The following are some tell-tale signs of psycho-social distress in children.

  • 0-3 years: change in sleep and behaviour patterns, excessive crying, irritability, change in play activity, hyper sensitivity to other people’s reactions
  • 4-6 years: clinging to care givers, regress to young behaviour, withdrawal in talking and play activity, sleep disturbances like nightmares, difficulty in concentration
  • 7-12 years: change in levels of activity, confused feelings and behaviour, repetitive talk about the crisis event, reluctance in education activities, expression in fear and anxiety, low concentration levels, aggression & restlessness, feeling of self blame, concern for affected people
  • 13-18 years: high levels of self consciousness, intense grief, feelings of hopelessness about the future and present, relying on peers for socialisation, changes in interpersonal relations, increase in maladaptive coping behaviour like drug and substance abuse, defiant behaviour

The Joining Forces,a global alliance of international child rights organisations comprised of ChildFund Alliance, Plan International, Save the Children, SOS Children’s village International, Terre des hommes, World Vision, held a children’s conference to discuss these issues in Uganda as well as released a report in May this year with recommendations for solutions to these problems, among them being that government steps up efforts to recognise the need for children to receive Mental Health and Psycho-social Support(MHPPS) in this crisis.

Why children?

They’re a vulnerable population. They need to be seen and heard before the issues that trouble them become hindrances in proper child growth, before life throws at them rude and shocking reminders of childhood issues that were never resolved. COVID-19 effects are going to be long term for the human species but step by step intervention to help people especially children cope in ways void of maladaptive tendencies and to eradicate the escalated challenges that have already been there will ensure proper mental health. Psychological intervention starts with us paying attention to them and their needs.

I’d love to hear your take on this topic.😊

Thank you for reading.

Blessings!✨

The beauty with strangers

I heard her sing as I walked into the supermarket. Hers was a clear and bold voice, the kind that’s hard to miss. It was a first for me. It’s not everyday that I get to hear cashier sing😊 I lingered in the supermarket to keep hearing her voice. I promise; had I known the song, I’d have joined in🤭 I watched as she put a few commodities near her in order and went about other duties around her work station with glee. I wonder if she knew how good she sounded. And that’s not even the best part. She greeted me with a smile and asked how I was doing. Our chit chat was lovely. She checked the commodities I bought and wished me a great rest of the day😌Short goodbyes but boy did I want to stay!😭 For a conversation, a cup of tea, anything to keep around her! She blessed my day. Those 5 minutes or so stayed with me as I got on a motorcycle (yeah, I wasn’t the rider😂) and later on a taxi back home. Even as I went about my chores today my mind kept going back to it.

To share a laugh, an idea or even just talking about the weather with someone I don’t know gets me quite excited and often gives me a reality check that we have different opinions and perspectives of different aspects of life. My fondest memory of this was a ride on a motorcycle (called bodaboda and often shortened to boda here in Uganda) to see a friend. I use them for transport more often than I should😂but they help a lot in cutting traffic and get you to your destination faster. No wonder I was very distraught when our president put a ban on their movement😩 and you could only imagine the elation when they were brought back💃🏽I digress🤦🏾‍♀️So yes, this particular ride with this boda guy was fun. We talked small small about University hustles, the newly installed traffic lights at a road junction, the package he was carrying and even threw in something about food. He gave me a discount as I was paying(I like to think it was because of our good conversation 😂)

I’ve had my fair share of rough encounters with strangers as well but am always grateful for the good times with them. Strangers can be pretty amazing people. We’re strangers to other people. Let’s strive to be a blessing to those we don’t know. You just never know how greatly your small acts of kindness could be what someone needed😊

Have you been blessed by a stranger? I’d love to hear from you.

Have a lovely weekend 🤗

Blessings!✨

Mental health awareness: Part 1

Happy new month to you, dear reader🤗Last quarter of the year💃🏽Does that also shock you? My head’s been singing, “🎶Goodbye 2020, goodbye 2020🎶” over and over again😂But God has been good even in the midst of these dark times. Let’s count those blessings!

So in the spirit of mental health awareness, I decided to do a series of writings on mental health covering just about as much as I can do. This was originally going to be a one time thing. Today’s topic was going to be a solo venture but the more I thought about it, the more ideas came to mind. A whole cocktail of emotions is brewing inside😅but a step at a time with a humongous dose of Godfidence should be enough to kickstart this project. By the grace of God, am going to be publishing content on mental health every Monday (small small pledge) I give liberty to you, dear reader, to hold me accountable to this pledge😊

Right. Today. OCD which in full is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. It’s one of the commonest (this word sounds wrong😂) types of mental disorders that is categorised as an anxiety disorder. Crucial to note is that anxiety is normal. Natural alarms go off in our minds and bodies when danger lurks by. Anxiety crosses to abnormal and becomes a major characteristic of a disorder 1. when it is experienced in the absence of danger 2. when it is out of proportion to the seriousness of the situation 3. when it causes great distress that impairs functioning or 4. when it persists even when the danger is past.

OCD is comprised of the obsession which is an involuntary, recurring or persistent thought/image that invades consciousness and causes great distress and the compulsion which is a persistent, irresistible and irrational urge to perform an act repeatedly. Usually, a person can suffer from one of the 2 but common OCD patients suffer from both. When they occur together, the compulsion is used to combat the anxiety caused by the obsession.

Types of OCD
There is an inexhaustible list of types of OCD because different individuals suffer from anxiety about different things. The more common manifestations of OCD, however, include:

  • Checking to dispel fear of harming self and others
  • Ruminations- undirected & unproductive thoughts often indulged in, mainly on science and life.
  • Intrusive thoughts- unpleasant & repetitive thoughts without control
  • Mental contamination- feeling dirty on the inside.
  • Contamination- fear of germs and dirt that could harm loved ones and self.
  • Symmetry & orderliness- things being in precise and perfect order

Causes
There’s a vast number of causes for OCD but it is usually narrowed down to the biological and psychodynamic perspectives.

  • Biological perspective being that genetic factors, structural abnormalities in the brain & biochemical imbalances have a play in the manifestation of OCD. Crucial to note here is that people don’t inherit genetic disorders. They inherit a predisposition toward the disorder which may or may not become apparent depending on the nature of conditions of their lives.
  • Psychodynamic perspective as originally introduced by the father of pyschology, Sigmund Freud, being that OCD is as a result of unresolved, unconscious conflict often sexual or aggressive in nature from childhood experiences.

Symptoms
The symptoms are told from the forms of OCD. Only when the recurring thought and the urge to combat the anxiety caused by it gives a person extreme distress, takes up a lot of time and hinders daily activities can we say that a person has OCD. Otherwise, cleaning, checking and organisation and the like are normal😊

Treatment
Medication as prescribed by a psychiatrist (mental health specialist who uses medicine to treat mental illnesses and disorders) as well as therapy done by a clinical psychologist (mental health specialist who uses talk therapy to treat mental illnesses and disorders) are used to treat OCD. In some cases, the patient may need both.

Why OCD?
OCD has often been misunderstood and even shrugged off as just another way of life that people formulate to get by. To an extreme, people with OCD are made fun of. Fact is, it’s a serious issue especially to the people that suffer from it and those around them. The best the rest of the population that doesn’t suffer from it can do is be supportive and encourage them throughout treatment if the affected persons seek to get it. Also, therapy isn’t a White man’s tradition/doesn’t mean the person doing it is weak. It only shows how strong they are for taking that bold step to get to a healthy place.

What’s your experience with OCD? I’d love to hear from you😊

Thank you for reading.

Blessings!✨

One of the greatest virtues

The meaning of patience is usually derived from a place of personal lessons and experiences as well as others’. It’s much easier and makes the topic much more relatable. Times of having to wait, listen and stop in order to be able to then achieve or understand something with a personal touch just make sense.

I mean it’s all around us. The growth of a child or plant. Waiting in line for a show(it’s been a while). A situationship (one of the 2 people is always on standby for when the other person comes clean about how they feel😂) Exam results. Water on the stove for tea. Traffic. All these require patience. Now am not a very patient person. I used to think I was but there’s enough proof that am not. Am a work in progress. Lockdown was, is and has been the best time to exercise this virtue😊

But that’s not the point. The ability to do all these things could be that some life lessons were drummed into our heads at a tender age. Or that we’ve somehow learnt these things from Sunday school. The fruit of the Holy Spirit?(Galatians 5:22-23)We had a cute song and all😅 Or maybe we learnt these things along the way and ‘that’s just the way life is supposed to be.’ You can’t be seen throwing a fit for being in the waiting area of a hospital for 1 hour and a half yet you got there first and everybody else that came after already went before you. And no, you can’t be that one person in the long line at a supermarket counter who’s constantly checking their watch and ‘requesting’ the guy to hurry up.

Yes, we must be seen to have etiquette or manners or just be human. Societal dictations of conduct, true, have a part to play in ensuring patience. But I believe the ability to be patient comes from a higher power. Somethings we just wouldn’t be able to accomplish if it wasn’t the hand of God in our lives and His power at work within us. We boast in our ability to exercise patience and brag of great upbringing yet in actual sense had it not been for God, we’d be ranting and raving at everything that takes a bit longer than we’d anticipated. Again, I quote 2 Corinthians 3:5.

A point to ponder for the weekend.

Have a great one🤗

Blessings!✨

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