New Zealand 2016: week 4

I’m posting daily photo collages on Instagram, which I’m linking here.

I’m writing this at home, after a wonderful family Christmas at my brother’s. It’s a bit strange to have gone from enjoying summer in New Zealand to Christmas trees and presents in Switzerland – I almost got whiplash… 🙂 Also, jetlag, but I managed to sleep until 6:30 this morning, so hopefully I’ll be fine to go back to work tomorrow. But first, a quick look back a the last days in my second home…

As planned, on Sunday, we went to Christmas at the Bowl in New Plymouth. It was a big celebration with different musicians, carol singing and big fireworks at the end. People were holding candles, which was lovely to see as it got dark.
New Plymouth

Sadly, the weather wasn’t so great on Monday, so I just went into town for breakfast (eggs Benedict, which I wish I could get here) and walked a bit along the Coastal Walkway. I still was quite sore from climbing Paritutu on Saturday, too. 🙂
New Plymouth

Tuesday I already said goodbye to my wonderful kiwi whanau (family). They left early in the morning to pick up a Christmas surprise for the kids – their new puppy, Raro. So it was only Ellie who saw me off, and I felt quite sad when the bus pulled away. It’s always so wonderful to spend time with them and see how the kids have grown. I hope I get to see them again in the not-too-distant future! <3 The bus ride was lovely, despite the winding turns that were a bit hard on my tummy, and in the evening I reunited with my mom in our great room on the 6th floor of the hostel, which had an awesome view of Auckland's Sky Tower. On Wednesday, our last full day, we went to a French creperie for breakfast, walked around downtown a bit, and then joined a Bush and Beach tour to the nearby Waitakere Ranges. I just wanted my mother to have one last opportunity to enjoy gorgeous New Zealand forest with its tree ferns, Nikau palms, Manuka, Rata and Kauri trees, and see a proper black sand beach, which we did near the Karekare falls and at Pahia. Overall, it was a wonderful day, and we rounded it off by enjoying the evening sun with dinner at Princes Wharf.
Auckland Auckland Auckland Auckland Auckland Auckland

The trip back home on Thursday took about almost 30 hours, with the 6 hours in Singapore airport feeling almost as long as the 10 and 13 hours on the plane. But everything went well, and we arrived back in Switzerland on Friday morning. Unsurprisingly I was really tired but managed to stay awake until 7pm that night. That was really the only time I had to properly arrive before Christmas yanked back into everyday life, and I’m still reeling a bit. Hopefully work will be quiet this week, so I can acclimatise a bit more… But for now, I wish you all a happy Christmas, Hanukah or whatever holiday you celebrate!

Happy holidays 2016!

Happy holidays!

Yesterday I returned home from an amazing four weeks in what still feels like my second home. The complete photo set is now up on Flickr (including some photos from the journey home), but today I just wanted to say “hi!” and wish all of you a wonderful holiday, in whatever form you celebrate – or not…

Happy holidays! Happy holidays!
This year’s “greeting card” comes to you from Wellington, to be exact from Scorching Bay. 🙂

Jacmel pou lavi

“Jacmel for life”… that’s how it feels, at least. Haiti and Jacmel and the people I met there are still in my thoughts every day. I suspect they’ll be in my heart forever. Why am I mentioning this?

Several of my fellow GVN volunteers will be going back to Port-au-Prince to join GrassRoots United, a disaster relief organisation that is running some awesome long-term sustainable projects. If you still want to help Haiti, do check them out!

Burning trash

I have also heard from Blake, another former volunteer who just returned from two months with GRU – they worked on a couple of projects in Jacmel, and it seems “our” camps are cholera-free, which is great news! Because the land owners want to close the camps, people are slowly moving away, but hopefully this is a good thing and they find more permanent homes. I will give the rest of my donations to returning GVN friend Debra, so she can use it to help those people who were our neighbours.


Originally uploaded by Evamaria N

One year ago today the earthquake devasted Haiti, an already struggling nation.

From October to December I had the privilege of working in volunteer projects run by the Global Volunteer Network GVN, which was an amazing and life-altering experience, as you all know. My brother works for a regional newspaper, Basellandschaftliche Zeitung and took the opportunity to interview me – the end result sounds much better than the actual conversation. *g*

The countdown clock is ticking…

[Deutsch unten]

Yesterday my successor started at work, so I’ll be showing her the ropes and make sure I leave my first proper job (which I lasted almost two years in, unexpectedly) in better shape than I found it… which shouldn’t be too hard, considering I started from scratch. 🙂

In addition to this I’m naturally also thinking more and more about Haiti. It’s been intruding in my dreams these past few days, making sleep less than restful. I’m making lists and trying to get a clearer idea of what to take to Haiti, and how. I hope to be able to bring some useful donations, but it all has to fit into two bags (in addition with the bulky stuff I’ll need, like mosquito net, air mattress etc.) – one of which I’ll have to pay $50 for I just discovered. So yeah, my mind is busybusybusy…

I’ve also arranged a goodbye party in Basel on October 9 – if you’d like to come, drop me a line!

Gestern fing meine Nachfolgerin an, damit ich sie einarbeiten und sicherstellen kann, dass ich meine erste richtige Arbeitsstelle (bei der ich schlussendlich fast zwei Jahre war) in gutem Zustand hinterlasse… immerhin war ich die erste, die die Position innehatte. 🙂

Ausserdem denke ich natürlich auch viel über Haiti nach. In den letzten Tagen habe ich viel davon geträumt, was zu unruhigem Schlaf führte. Ich mache Listen und versuche, rauszufinden, was ich alles mitnehmen soll, und wie ich es nach Haiti bringen kann. Ich würde nämlich gerne auch einige praktische Spenden mitnehmen, die aber alle in zwei Taschen passen müssen (zusätzlich zu Schlafsack, Moskitonetz, Luftmatratze usw.). Für die zweite Tasche werde ich erst noch $50 zahlen müssen, wie ich kürzlich entdeckt habe. Ihr könnt also sehen, mein Gehirn ist ziemlich beschäftigt…

Ich hab auch ein Abschiedstreffen in Basel organisiert – falls ihr am 9. Oktober dabei sein wollt, sagt mir einfach Bescheid!

Not even two months to go…

[Deutscher Text unten]

Except for immunisations (which my health insurance should mostly cover) and travel insurance most of the big budget posts have been paid for by now, although I’m sure I’ll keep thinking of stuff I have to buy (like a battery-operated fan and similar things to make my life in Haiti easier). But this means that, having taken care of myself (again – thank you, thank you, thank you to those of you that supported me in this!), I’m now thinking of how to help the Haitians.

Therefore, if you’ve wanted to donate to the earthquake victims but didn’t want to just send your money to an anonymous organisation – please consider contributing to my ‘help fund’. I will use this money to a) buy some supplies here in Switzerland and carry them in my luggage (apparently, vitamins are difficult to buy locally, for example) and b) help where I see it’s needed when I’m in the country (eg., I’ve heard of volunteers buying mattrasses for an orphanage).

Consider using the donate button in the sidebar or on the project website, making a note that it’s for the help fund, not my expenses, and I promise to do my best to make a difference where it matters!

Ausser den Impfungen (die eigentlich grösstenteils meine Krankenkasse zahlen sollte) und Reiseversicherung ist der Grossteil der grossen Budgetposten mittlerweile bezahlt, auch wenn mir sicher immer wieder Sachen für meine Einkaufsliste einfallen werden (wie einen batteriebetriebenen Ventilator und andere Dinge, die mein Leben in Haiti einfacher machen). Dies bedeutet, dass ich, jetzt wo ich selber versorgt bin (nochmals danke, danke, danke an euch alle, die mir dabei geholfen haben!), mir anfange, darüber Gedanken zu machen, wie ich den Haitianern helfen kann.

Vielleicht hättet ihr nach dem Erdbeben gerne gespendet, wolltet aber euer Geld nicht einfach einer anonymen Organisation geben – in dem Fall, überlegt euch doch, in mein ‘Hilfskonto’ einzuzahlen. Dieses Geld werde ich einerseits brauchen, um hier in der Schweiz Sachen zu kaufen, die in Haiti nur schwierig zu erhalten sind (anscheinend gibt es z.B. wenig Vitamine im Land), und andererseits, um direkt vor Ort helfen zu können, wo Hilfe am dringendsten benötigt wird (so haben u.a. Freiwillige Matratzen für ein Waisenhaus gekauft).

Überlegt euch doch, den Spendenknopf auf der linken Seite oder auf der Projekt-Webseite zu drücken, mit dem Vermerk, dass die Spende für das Hilfskonto bestimmt ist (nicht für meine Ausgaben), und ich verspreche, mein Bestes zu tun, damit das Geld konkrete Hilfe liefert.

Setting the date

Haiti has suddenly become much more real – I received the confirmation email from Global Volunteer Network that my placement will begin on October 15, 2010. Oh boy…

I would like to congratulate you on confirming your place in the Haiti Volunteer Program for 1 month starting 15th October 2010. You may now go ahead and book your flights!

As a volunteer in our Haiti program, you have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of communities devastated by the January 12 earthquake. You will provide support, attention and assistance to the people of Haiti through our rebuilding and rehabilitation program.

Here at Global Volunteer Network we partner with local organizations who are best placed to identify their country’s greatest development needs. We will help you prepare for your placement and once you are in-country you will have the support of our local partner. By volunteering you will be a part of the GVN movement which takes action against poverty and you will gain experience and personal growth by doing so.

As you can see, I’m currently signed up for 1 month – but I’m still convinced that I should go at least for 6-8 weeks in order to be able to really make a difference. It all depends on my fundraising, which means I should get started on that, doesn’t it? 🙂

I am very nervous about the whole thing, as it’s quite clear volunteering will be taxing on both body and mind. But I really think this is what I’m supposed to do and hope and pray for the strength to really go for it!