Monday, 31 March 2014

Less than a week to go!

I took a little break from Mission Congo this weekend to celebrate my cousin's wedding with the rest of my family. After 28 days of living on £1 per day I was able to sip champagne and nibble canapes with the rest of the guests which felt wonderful and awful in equal measure. Living on £1 per day has really made me aware of just how little the people of DRC have to live on and just how much we have, which probably explains why I had a little freak out and cried in Waitrose when I went to do my food shop but it was all just a bit overwhelming to suddenly be surrounded by so much food that I felt really guilty!

So it's less than a week until I leave for DRC and plans are finally falling into place and more packages are arriving every day. I spent over a hundred pounds the other day buying lots of cheap little toys, colouring books and footballs for the children at the orphanages so I have gifts to give them when I arrive. I'm also still receiving children's clothes, ties for the men and jewellery for the women which is great. All that's left to arrive are the medical items and the school exercise books.

Donations are still coming in and our total now stands at £3,250 which is so amazing. I've also been gathering photos of all the people that kindly gave money for the water filters and to send orphans to school so I can show them photos of who is sponsoring them.

In addition to all this I've been reading lots of articles and watching lots of videos so I'm up to speed on the current situation out in DRC. I'd like to take this opportunity to share a couple of videos that I've seen recently that are particularly effective in explaining what is actually an incredibly complicated situation and getting the message across in a way that should really hit home for all of us - by talking about our laptops, ipads, ipods, iphones, in fact all mobile phones which we wouldn't have if it wasn't for the minerals being mined in the Congo.

Conflict Minerals 101
This video is just 4 minutes long and is definitely worth a watch to get the most basic understanding of how conflict minerals are funding a war in the Congo.

Conflict minerals rebels and child soldiers in congo
This video is 30 minutes long so make a cuppa, sit down and watch it to fully grasp just how incredibly complicated the situation is in the Congo.


Thursday, 27 March 2014

My visa has arrived!

I am very excited to announce that my visa arrived today! Woo hoo! :-) The last piece of the jigsaw has fallen into place which means I am definitely heading to the Congo in 10 days time! I was so shocked and excited when I realised what was in the package that I actually did a little dance which I'm pretty sure the postman enjoyed considering I was in the front garden in my PJs and slippers!

I am so relieved that it is finally here. I have barely slept for the last couple of nights just worrying about it. When I called the embassy yesterday to tell them that I had emailed them the booking confirmation for my flights they seemed confused and unimpressed and told me to call back on Friday and then less than 24 hours later my passport arrives with a beautiful visa for DRC inside!

I emailed all my new friends in DRC today to tell them that I was definitely coming and they were all very happy and excited to hear the news. So now we can begin to put the rest of the logistics in place. Top of the list at the moment is arranging how to get myself and 10 boxes of supplies from the airport to the hotel (I arrive in Uganada at 11pm at night so need a hotel for the night), then from the hotel to the DRC border the next day (8 hour drive) and finally from the border to Beni which is my first stop in DRC.

There have been some interesting and typically African discussions about this that involved, at one point, me taking the bus and trying to fit all 10 boxes of supplies in the boot or on the roof! As adventurous and keen as I am to experience the 'real' Africa, I have decided that this plan comes with a very real risk of the boxes going missing during our 8 hour drive to the border so am instead trying to arrange for someone with a pick up truck to be my driver. This does seem the safest way to ensure that all my supplies arrive safely, plus this way I get to stop for loo breaks which I am sure I'll need but am guessing are not included in an 8 hour journey through the heart of Africa by bus! :-)

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Worst day ever but at least my flights are booked!

Today has been the most stressful day since I launched Mission Congo. Anyone who has had to deal with an embassy to get a visa will know just how hard it can be and African countries are generally more complicated than most other nations but for some reason the DRC embassy has taken it to a whole other level.

First I was told that my visa application had been cancelled (turned out not to be true), then I was told that they had already returned my passport (again, not true) and finally I was told that in order to get my visa my flights details had to be approved by the DGM in Goma which I'm really hoping isn't true as I already had to have my invitation letter approved by him and it took over a week and cost me $100.

The problem is that I have been on hold for a humanitarian aid flight to fly me into DRC for the last few weeks but the flight still hasn't been confirmed which I tried explaining to the embassy to no avail. I was told that if I didn't supply them with my flight details ASAP then my visa application would be rejected.

So I booked my flights - woo hoo! I am scrapping all ideas of getting a nice humanitarian aid flight into DRC and am instead flying to Entebbe in Uganda and will have to take an 8 hour road trip to the border of DRC and attempt to cross the border by land instead which I'm guessing is going to be..... interesting!

To say that I'm utterly terrified is an understatement and I have spent most of the day questioning why I am doing this in the first place but now that the panic has subsided slightly I'm being proactive and making arrangements with my contact in DRC to meet me in Entebbe and I'm rather naively hoping that with him by my side it should all be smooth sailing! Wishful thinking?!?! At least I'll get to see some of Uganda which is supposed to be beautiful.

So I am officially leaving on the morning of Sunday 6th April (provided I get my visa by then). Having an actual leaving date has made me realise just how much I still have to do so I'd better get cracking!

First on the list... a nice drink of cholera!

Monday, 24 March 2014

The best and worst part of my day...

As you know I've changed tactics this week and gone for a veggie diet which I have to say I'm already feeling better on although I'm a little bit bored of mixed vegetable pasta for dinner and I'm only on day 3 of 7!

The great news is that by not spending money on expensive meat I was able to treat myself to some chocolate this week which I save everyday until the evening and sit down to enjoy with a cup of tea... which leads me to the best and worst part of my day.

The best part is obviously that I get to enjoy the amazing taste of melt-in-your-mouth Cadbury's Dairy Milk chocolate which after 3 weeks of not having any is like a little piece of heaven. The worst part is that within a few seconds that one tiny piece has gone and I'm left traumatised as knowing I have to wait a full 24 hours until my next piece is like hell!

Anyone who knows me knows that I can easily devour an entire giant bar of chocolate without even blinking and still want more so I'm not exaggerating when I say that this is like some sort of medieval torture! 

24 days down and just 4 left to go...

Please show your support by making a donation on the fundraising page:

Every donation, no matter how small, can make a big difference to an orphan in DRC.


Sunday, 23 March 2014

Underpants for Orphans!

As you know I've been slowly gathering donations of used children's clothes to take to orphans in DRC and am pleased to announce that I now have more than 10 large bags filled to the brim with hundreds of baby grows as well as t-shirts, shorts, trousers, skirts, dresses and jumpers for the rest of the children.

One thing the orphans still desperately need is underwear. Today I spent £60 on over 200 pairs of underpants for 2 - 10 years olds. Check out this photo to see how cute and colourful they are! I can't wait to give these to the children in DRC :-)

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Final week of the £1 per day challenge and I've already hit £3,000!

I am absolutely over the moon to announce that, thanks to all your generous donations, I hit my fundraising target of £3,000 today! :-) Thank you so much to everyone who donated and made this possible, I appreciate it more that you will ever know.

This doesn't mean that the fundraising has stopped. In fact, I am on a mission to raise as much as I can in the remaining 11 days as the more I can raise the more orphans in DRC I can help. Since launching Mission Congo I have been contacted by a dozen or more organisations in DRC who run projects to help orphans as well as rape victims and child soldiers in DRC and I really want to help as many people as I can so please spread the word and let's see how much we can raise before I leave in 11 days.

Today is also the start of my final week on the £1 per day challenge. This week I've changed tactics and gone for a vegetarian diet which means I can use the money I usually spend on meat to buy lots of healthy veggies and also treat myself to a bar of chocolate which I have been craving for the last 3 weeks!

Here is my food for the week. Total spend = £6.84

This week Carole came to Aldi with me and was amazed at how much more she could get compared to her usual weekly shop at Sainsburys. Her total spend was just under £7 but it was her best week yet and she was even able to treat herself to a pack of biscuits!

If you would like to support us during our final week of feeding ourselves on just £1 per day please visit the fundraising page:


Friday, 21 March 2014

End of week 3 of £1 per day and a big THANK YOU to all my Bristol peeps!

I've just returned from a fabulous 3 day trip to Bristol where I caught up with friends and spread the message about Mission Congo. I was incredibly lucky to receive a number of donations while I was there of children's clothes, toys, books, colouring crayons & pencils as well as scarves for the women in DRC. Big thank you's go out to Simon, Ruth, Kat, Sarah, Vicky & Becca.

I've just spent the afternoon sorting through all the items that were donated and organising them to go into different boxes and here is a photo of all the items I collected in Bristol which is easily another 2 box loads. I am definitely well over my 5 free boxes. I'm guessing I'm somewhere near 10 now but I'm happy to pay for the extra baggage as the items are all so lovely I really want to take everything!

It's been a particularly difficult week to stick to the £1 per day but I'm very proud to say that I managed it. On Sunday we went out for a family meal to celebrate what would have been my dad's 60th birthday and while the rest of the family enjoyed a nice 3 course meal I ate my sad little scone and half an orange which was rather depressing.

The rest of the week was equally difficult trying to catch up with friends in Bristol who all wanted to treat me to lovely lunches and dinners but I stuck with my hot cross bun lunch and meatballs for dinner. I am really bored of the £1 per day challenge now, mostly because of how much it restricts you when you are trying to lead a normal life but I guess I knew it wouldn't be easy. Thank goodness I've only got a week to go!

Here is a photo I took on Tuesday night sat around the table at girls night...

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love chocolate. I can't even begin to tell you the torture of having to sit in front of these bags of chocolate and not be able to eat one. I just kept thinking of the money we have raised and how close we are to reaching £3,000. Only £100 to go!

Thanks everyone for your support and donations!

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Paint the CONGO with a RAINBOW!

I'm so excited to announce that I finally got around to collecting the colouring pencils from b-line and the 100 packs they had donated turned out to be 100 double packs of 12 which means we have received 2400 colouring pencils - amazing! I can't wait to take them out to DRC so the children can do lots of lovely coloured drawings.

Thanks b-line! :-)

Monday, 17 March 2014

A £500 donation!

Amazing news - today I received a donation for £500! :-) This means that the total raised so far is now just over £2,700. I only need to raise another £300 to reach my target and I still have 2 weeks to go...

Thank you so much to the incredibly generous person who made the donation. I know she wants to remain anonymous but I would just like to take this opportunity to say thank you so much for believing in me and this project and for the huge difference that this money is going to make to the orphans in DRC. We appreciate it so much.

For those of you who still haven't donated there is plenty of time left. Just visit the fundraising page:


Saturday, 15 March 2014

Week 3 of the £1 per day challenge and I'm getting creative!

It's week 3 of the £1 per day challenge and I can't face any more plain rice or mashed potatoes so this week I'm getting creative. I've decided to make my favourite meal - my mum's meatballs - except by the time I'd bought all the ingredients I barely had any money left to buy anything else so I've had to cut down on my lunch and daily fruit allowance and I guess it's porridge again for breakfast next week... but at least I get my meatballs and I still managed to afford a pack of 40p biscuits! :-)

Here is my food shop for the week. Total = £7.00 exactly again!

And here is Carole's shop for the week. Total = £6.97

Friday, 14 March 2014

Halfway point of the £1 per day challenge!

I just realised that today is the end of my second week of £1 per day. I can't believe I've managed to do it for 14 whole days! I have lost of bit of weight and I definitely don't feel as healthy or as full of energy as I normally do but I'm managing to survive on just £1 per day and that is the main thing.

This week was definitely a littler easier than last week as I had a few bits left over so was able to buy some biscuits which were a lovely treat at that point in the day when you just needed a taste of something yummy. I also think my body was used to the smaller portions so it wasn't as big a shock as last week. That being said, I have missed chocolate like crazy!

I stuck to the same plan as last week and ate porridge for breakfast, a scone and banana for lunch and had the same meal every night. This week I have been living on sausage, mash and peas every night (see photo below) which has filled me up more than rice, chicken and vegetables - either that or my stomach has shrunk! (I should point out that this is a bowl and not a plate so the portion size is nowhere near as big as it looks in the photo).

At least I managed to afford some protein and greens on my budget. Now compare my dinner with the standard meal at the orphanages in DRC, which is generally boiled potatoes and beans...

You start to realise that even spending as little £1 per day still allows me to have more and healthier food than the average orphan in DRC. It shows how lucky we are, not just to be able to buy enough food but to be able to buy foods that are full of the vitamins that we need to be healthy.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

500 school books for children in DRC...

Today we received some great news. Findell Educational who are a big supplier of school products in the UK have kindly offered to donate 500 exercise books for me to take to schools in DRC. This is amazing news and we are very grateful to Findell Education for their generosity.

Schools in DRC are very different to schools in the UK - just check out this photo below to see for yourself.

Often they are a simple mud hut structure where the children sit on the floor or low benches as they can't afford chairs and desks. Without pencils and exercise books the children can't learn to write but with the pencils and exercise books we have been given they will now get that opportunity.

Thanks for the donations and all the support!

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

I've hit £2,000!

With 3 whole weeks still to go until I leave for DRC I am so excited today to announce that with your incredible support I've managed to hit £2,000 on my fundraising page. In fact, with the additional mystery donation that just came in from an anonymous donor the total currently stands at £2,110 - woo hoo! :-) Thanks so much to everyone who has donated. Your support has been amazing.

We have now received donations for the 4 water filters that we wanted to buy and almost half of the 40 children that need to go to school have received sponsors which is great news. Fingers crossed that by the end of the fundraising the other half will have sponsors and any that remain will be sponsored using money raised by the project.

So to update you on where I am with everything else...

The medical items for the 3 main organisations I am visiting have been ordered and paid for and should be arriving soon. The total spend on them was £1,250 which was more than I had originally budgeted but I wanted to supply them with extra items like malaria test kits and equipment such as fetal stethoscopes so I spent a little bit more but I plan to cover that additional expense myself.

School supplies are slowly building up. We've already received the box of 4,000 pencils and the 100 packs of assorted colouring crayons are ready to be collected this week. In addition I have been promised some school exercise books from a large school supplier so am trying to negotiate as many as I can get!

Donations have been coming in of baby and children's clothes as well as toys, teddies, books etc. I have spent the last couple of days sorting through them all and bagging them up based on age so I can give the baby clothes to St Kizito who have 40 babies and give the older children's clothes to one of the other orphanages that have a lot of older children. Thanks so much to everyone who has donated items - it's so lovely to see them all in big piles and think that soon there will be children in DRC wearing them. 

So as you can probably tell, I've already filled the 5 free bags that British Airways are kindly allowing me to take for free but I can take other bags, I just have to pay to take them, so please continue to donate any items you can as I am determined to take as much as I possibly can! 


Monday, 10 March 2014

4,000 pencils...

Today I received my first box of school supplies to take to DRC... 4,000 pencils! Thanks to Chambers Pencils for their generous donation. 

Check out this photo of my little niece with them to see how big the box is. It's so heavy too! Thank goodness British Airways are letting me take 5 boxes for free!

If you think that the average school has 100 children then this should be enough for around 40 schools. I've also been promised colouring pencils and exercise books by two other suppliers which should arrive this week. We're slowly getting there! :-)

Sunday, 9 March 2014

I have my first donations - clothes for the orphans...

Yesterday was my niece's 5th birthday party and my sister asked all the parents if they had any used children's clothes that they would like to donate for me to take to orphans in DRC and the response was amazing - I ended up with bags full of clothes, shoes, toys and books. I've finally finished going through them all and am so pleased with the amount that I have to take out with me. There are going to be some well dressed kiddies in DRC in a months time!

Thanks everyone for your kind and generous donations. Keep them coming!

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Thank goodness for biscuits!

It's the start of week 2 of my £1 per day challenge and I've just spent another £7 on food to last me the next 7 days. The great news is that I already had lots of porridge, rice and jam left over from last week so once I'd bought the items I needed for my meals this week I still had 96p left over to spend on snacks for those times of the day when only something yummy would do! Thanks to the incredibly low prices at Aldi I managed to buy 2 whole packs of biscuits - woo hoo! Fingers crossed this week isn't going to be quite as painful as last week although I've still got the worst porridge in the world to look forward to each morning which is never a great start to the day...

Here is my shop. Total price = £7.00

And thanks again to Carole for joining me on the £1 per day challenge. Having someone who knows how tough it is makes it a little easier.

Here is her shop. Total price = £6.87

If you haven't sponsored me already and would like to please go to:


Friday, 7 March 2014

£1 per day in picture form...

Today I'm having one of those days where I'm so hungry I don't know what to do with myself and I know the only 2 things I can have as a snack is porridge or boiled rice... neither of these options sounds particularly appealing right now so instead I'm trying to distract myself and stop counting down the hours until my next meal!

I can't wait to go shopping tomorrow. Because I don't need to buy porridge or rice I should have about 90 pence that I can use to buy snacks for next week. The big question is - what to buy?!

Here is my £1 per day week in picture form. I found the easiest way to do it was to have the same meals every day for 7 days. I am so bored of rice, carrots and broccoli! Tonight I am going to dream of biscuits! :-)

Thanks again to everyone who has sponsored me to do this crazy challenge and for all your donations to Mission Congo. I've raised £1,690 already which is fantastic and makes being hungry totally worth it.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

5 Free bags - Thank you British Airways!

I woke up this morning to an email from British Airways who have kindly agreed to give me the same '5 free bags' excess baggage deal as the BBC on my flight to Nairobi which means I can take even more medical & school supplies as well as clothes, shoes and toys for the orphans - woo hoo! Thanks British Airways!

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

I'm halfway there!

Today I hit £1,500 which means I'm halfway there! Thanks so much to everyone who has donated. Your support has been incredible and is what keeps me going every day when I'm so tired I'm ready to drop! Please keep telling your friends about the project and may the donations keep coming in!

In addition to the financial donations I've received, I am also pleased to announce that Chambers Pencils in Nottingham have kindly donated a box of 4,000 pencils for me to take to DRC which should be enough for around 40 schools. They will be arriving on Friday.

On top of that, a company in Switzerland called Vestergaard has generously donated all the spare bed nets they have in their Kenya office at the moment which totals 126 bed nets! I'm going to collect these during my stop over in Nairobi before I fly to DRC. These nets will prevent the children from getting bitten by mosquitoes while they are sleeping which will hopefully stop them from catching malaria which can be fatal, especially in young, malnourished children.

Smiles all round! :-)

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Visa application is in!

I had a rather interesting day today. I was up bright and early on a bus to London to visit the DRC Embassy to submit my application for a visa. In true embassy style it was a particularly painful experience which involved me having, at one point, some sort of oral exam on my ability to converse in French which definitely was NOT on the visa requirements list! Most people I met seemed surprised that I was there to apply for a visa. I'm not sure whether this was more to do with the fact that I am:
a) a woman
b) white
c) a skinny, feeble looking blonde thing.

At one point I asked them if they could provide me with a letter of authorisation to take medical supplies to Goma and all the woman said was "You're going to Goma? You? To Goma? Really? You go to Goma?" before she pulled a face that looked like half confusion and half total fear! I'm starting to wonder if maybe this was such a good idea after all...

At least the visa application is in. Now I just have to wait to see if it gets approved. Fingers crossed!

Monday, 3 March 2014

I've hit £1,000!

Great news everyone - with your help I've managed to raise £1,000 already which is an amazing amount of donations in just 3 days. Thanks to everyone for their support and generosity. I'm almost ready to place the order for all the medical supplies. I can't wait for them to arrive!

Sunday, 2 March 2014

I'm off to a great start!

I'm very pleased to announce that with your help I've managed to raise over £550 in just 48 hours - what a great start! Thanks so much to everyone who has donated already. All of these donations have come from family members and friends who have shown an amazing amount of support for me and the project - I really appreciate it so much.

Today has been a difficult day. After the big push to get the fundraising page, facebook page and this blog site all launched on Friday, I have felt absolutely exhausted this weekend. On top of that, feeding myself on just £1 per day has really taken it's toll and I'm suffering from major sugar withdrawal!

Only 26 days left to go... I know it's all going to be worth it as soon as I get to DRC.

If anyone else would like to sponsor me or donate some items for me to take please visit:



Saturday, 1 March 2014

Let the £1 per day challenge begin...

It's Day 1 of my '£1 per day challenge'. For the next 28 days I am going to spend less than £1 per day on food to raise money for orphans and other vulnerable children in the Democratic Republic of Congo where the average person has less than 1 per day to live on. 

Here are the items that I have to live on for the next 7 days. Total spent = 6.99!!

Please sponsor me at: or join me on the £1 per day challenge and help raise money for the orphans in DRC. 

I already have another £1 per day challenge member - welcome and thank you Carole Teifel who has offered to do the challenge for the full 28 days. Here is her shop for the week. Total spend = £6.89!!