July 16, 2006

Happy Sunday everyone!

Hello there my Blogging Friends

I am back after my week's Leadership Training Course in Wales and I have a lot of stories and photos to share with you. There were 6 of us on the course, led by a Life Coach called Ben (who was absolutely wonderful!).

On Monday and Tuesday we had a personality profile done and then put this into action with a number of outdoor leadership activities. My personality profile is INFJ - Introvert, Intuitive, Feeling and Judging. I have to explain that the Introvert assessment is because I tend to think deeply first, before I externalise my emotions to other people (this is so true!!) and the Judging assessment is because I tend to like things to be somewhat orderly and organised rather than being too 'random' (again, I find this to be an accurate assessment of how I am).

On Wednesday we spent the day at the Amelia Trust Farm near Cardiff www.ameliatrust.org.uk/ This is a wonderful place, a working farm full of animals (cows, sheep, chickens, ducks, rabbits, pigs to name but a few) which is a haven of love and tranquility for young people who are on the margins of society. Most have been excluded (expelled) from school, have no family support to give them encouragement in their lives and hence often turn to drugs, drink or crime. The Farm is the only place where they feel they 'belong' and matter to people.

Our project for the day was to build a 150 metre rustic fence around the outside of one of their fields, so that their cow herd can now graze in safety and preventing them from escaping onto the main road. We worked with some of Amelia's young people and had the wonderful privilege of talking to them, involving them in the work and doing our best to raise their morale. Some of them would drift off, distracted, to have a cigarette or just sit quietly and observe, but then they would come back as we gave them encouragement that the work they were helping with was good and worthwhile. I befriended a young man (13 years old) called Mikey (a rather amazing coincidence that he shares the same name as my DH!) - he was from a family of 9, his father died when he was 3 years old and he had hardly attended school. He was big-hearted and caring and we had a lovely time together hammering staples into the wire fence. I gave him lots of encouragement and told him he was much better at the job than me, which I think boosted his morale somewhat!

I have told the Amelia Trust that I would like to return to help them for a week in October - they badly need volunteers to run activities, so I thought I could gather together some craft materials and run an activity to make cards and posters. October is sometimes a bit cold, grey and miserable so it would be a great opportunity to get some young people together to do some practical indoor activities.

I was reading the wonderful and, quite frankly inspirational, entry (27 June 2006) on Carto's blog http://cartostitchingcorner.blogspot.com/ about how her Mom advised her when times feel hard to reflect on those who are less fortunate in life. As you can imagine, this resonates with me in my current situation (for those new to my blog, please refer to the entry on 31st May) and mirrored how I felt during the day I spent at Amelia.

On Thursday we did some more class-based discussions and in the afternoon, we walked some 13km up to the highest point of the Brecon Beacons - this was an exhilarating (albeit, tiring!!) experience and, as I looked out at the wonderful view, I felt as if Mike was with me at that moment. It took us about 3.5 hours to complete the entire walk, which conveniently (!) ended up back at the pub, where we enjoyed a well-earned drink and evening meal.

== I have some photos on our walk, but unfortunately Blogger is doing its normal trick of not letting me upload them - so I will include them for you later ==

On Friday, we did a self-assessment of our performance over the week and the course finished at 4pm. Before the course, I arranged to visit my cousin and his wife as I almost passed their house on the way home from Wales. I had a wonderful evening with them, talking about Mike and sharing our news, as we have not seen each other for some time. My cousin is a drummer in a tribute band, so he showed me some of their latest concert material and their website www.rollin-clones.com. Currently he does the week-day shows, with the other drummer doing weekends, but he may get to do weekends as well. We have made a commitment to see each other more often as we share the same nutty sense of humour and always have a great time together.

Well, that is the end of my week - I will find some time to visit your blogs later today, but I am going to get out in the garden and mow the grass which has grown long since I have been away!

Lots of love
Stay safe and happy,
Ali xx


Lili said...

Great news, Ali! You've done a wonderful job with Amelia! You are so full of energy!
I was getting worried about the lack of post, so I'm very happy to read all this.
The assessment course you had looks interesting: they're often accurate, aren't they?!
Lots of hugs!

Bastet said...

I had to take one of those assement tests when I took Phycology(sp?). Glad to hear you had a wonderful time with the course and with the Anelia Farm. We have a few over here as well. Couldn't give you any names but once in awhile you hear of them. Those kids need all the encouragement and love they can get. I'm not sure how child services do in the UK but here in the US too many fall through the cracks and most of them that do aren't usually tagged with that title since no one seems to know they were in the database to begin with. It's sad, but I'm glad to hear that you've volunteered to help out a little. Chin up!

~Harsha~ said...

HI Ali... Sounds like you had a nice time. Honey.. you can try photobucket for your pictures.. I use them for mine and never had a problem.