I am sat looking at a pile of stuff and to be honest? I’m a little bit scared. I have every kind of mosquito repelling product under the sun, a hat that Indiana Jones would be proud of and some boots to cope with the muck and rubbish of the Bangladeshi slums and mud. My arms are still a bit sore from all the disease-preventing injections and I have a big visa stamp in my passport.
One week today I shall be sat on a plane, along with Sian and Eva, half way across the other side of the world, flying to Bangladesh for a week viewing Save the Children’s work with mothers and children in one of the most poverty-stricken places on the planet.
This is really, really happening.
People keep asking me if I’m ready, if I’m prepared for my trip. And yes, I’ve been busy preparing, borrowing backpacks and clothes to let me comfortably sweat out the Bangladeshi heat, thinking about modesty in a strictly Muslim country, reading through my schedule and trying not to squeak as I read the words “sea plane”, “speedboat”, or let my breath catch in my throat as I read about the health care workers we will be shadowing as we visit children suffering from severe acute malnutrition. I’ve never travelled before so all the things I need to think about are new to me. I’m desperately trying to pick up lots of tips and get my head round all the things I need to think about (and if you’ve travelled in far-flung parts and have any words of advice to share I would really, really appreciate any top tips you can share.)
But am I prepared? For what I’ll see? For what this experience is going to FEEL like?
No, how can I be.
My world has always been so small up until now. I have lived in the same small town for over 20 years. For over a quarter of that time I could barely move a few feet, my world as small as one or two rooms, a sofa, a bed, as I struggled with illness and pain and restricted mobility. I didn’t get to stretch my wings and go across the country to University, or travel on a gap year with my friends, or go on exotic holidays.
I didn’t get to do anything really, except sit, and dream, and wait.
And yet, even though my world was small, it was a privileged world. Enough food, clean water, good health care. Stuck in, tired and hurting, it was hard to see sometimes, but I was so lucky. And when I got better and pregnant I got access to excellent maternity care. My baby was given the vaccinations he needed to stay well and, fed well, he grew big and strong. God, it actually hurts a bit to think of it already, just how lucky I have been, how lucky Kai has been.
And here I sit. COMPLETELY unprepared for what the next two weeks is going to do to my thinking, my emotions, my internal map of how I see the world and what I understand about it. All I know is that it is going to be big. My world is about to get so BIG.
Soon I am going to get to see the other side of the coin, see the reality for the vast majority of women trying to raise children in other countries. It is going to shake me and awe me and horrify me and delight me in equal measure.
I am not ready. But GOD am I going to do them proud. I am going to use my voice and my words and my heart to tell their story and lots and lots of people are ready and waiting to listen, more people than we ever could have imagined. Not just Twitter, not just bloggers, but the media too, in a big, big way.
My head may not be ready but my heart is. I have never wanted to do anything as much as I want to do this.
But I need you all with me ok? This isn’t about squabbles or competition or censorship or anything else that seems to concern so many bloggers right now, this is about real life. It’s about trying to make a difference, about ALL of us trying to make a difference. And we’re not going to know if we can till we try, right?
Something you can do RIGHT NOW is go sign our Facebook petition. It will take two minutes. Nearly 9,000 of you have already but we want lots, lots more. Tell Nick Clegg that nine million children a year dying unnecessary deaths is not right, and that we have the power to change it. There are other ways to help here, too, please have a read if you haven’t already.
And then stay tuned. Because I have an amazing story to tell you.
It starts here.
Keep up to date with all the Blogladesh developments by following my blog’s RSS feed and by following me on Twitter. Don’t forget to read my team-mates blogs too – Sian at Mummy Tips (@mummytips), Eva at NixdMinx (@nixdminx) and Liz from Save the Children (@lizscarff and @SaveChildrenPR)
If you represent Press or PR and would like more information about or trip or to find out ways you can get involved, please contact me here.