Mister Mombastic something, something fantastic, someth…oh, ok… nevermind
By Tanya Raven
On 31st March 2017, I will be getting on a plane and heading off for one of the scariest, yet most exciting journeys of my life, to Mombasa in Kenya, to spend 4 weeks in the Coast Provincial General Hospital. Whilst there, I will spend 3 weeks in the gender based violence centre, and the final week will be within a drug and alcohol misuse unit.
So, a word about how and why this came about. I am now in the 2nd year of my Mental Health Nursing degree, which at the tender age of 37 is a dream that I have nurtured for many years. 50% of the degree is in school, with the other half being out on placement in various psychiatric settings, from acute wards to community settings, and everything in between. However, we don’t get to choose where these will be, so in the 2nd year, we have an elective placement, which we get to choose for ourselves. This means that we can explore areas of psychiatric nursing that we have an interest in, but may not get a chance to work in through our set placements. And perhaps more significantly, we can do this anywhere in the world.
As I sat in a lecture about these sacred placements in my first year, I watched with fascination as the lecturer talked of her travels to India as a student nurse and midwife. Ever since my first open day for the degree, I had decided that I wanted to work in a developing country for my elective, and this lecture cemented that. With a fire in my belly and a really annoying tendency to DO IT ALL NOW, I researched, fired off emails, wrote 3634893576 to do lists and by the time the weekend was over, I had set my heart on where I wanted to go.
My dream, career wise, is to work as a nurse within the gender based violence field. I also have a huge interest in world health in general, and cultural differences in health, and more specifically, eradicating health disparities within culture, economics, gender, age, sexual orientation, and all of the other horrible disparities that are prevalent within health care.
According to the 2014 Kenya Demographic Health Survey, 43% of 15-49 year old women reported that they had experienced some form of gender based violence in their life (Kenya DHS, 2014). In England and Wales, 2 women are killed per week by a partner or former partner (Office of National Statistics, 2015).
So, with this in mind, I found my perfect placement. And thus started a year of planning, fund raising and the implementation of what will no doubt be one of the most important months of my life. Once I’d found my host, and worked out all of my costs, it was time to go about raising the money that it would cost to make this trip happen. Many years ago, I used to sing. I was even told that I had a fairly decent warble on me, and I had considered for a short time doing something with that.
So I decided that I would put on a couple of fundraiser gigs, with a variety of performers, with the emphasis being on empowered women, and male / female unity. I am extremely lucky to have collected tonnes of multi talented friends on my way through life, meaning that I was able to call upon them to perform, for free, in aid of my cause.
And with that, Mombastic was born. That was actually a name I came up with at around 2am in bed, when I started giggling out of nowhere, startled the poor long suffering Mister who was in that lovely state where you’re just about to drop off and everything feels perfect…and said “Imagine if I called it Mombastic!”. It was only meant to be a ridiculous joke, and gives some insight into the kind of rubbish I do think about when I’m supposed to be sleeping, a bit like the time I startled him from that same euphoric near slumber with “Do you think penguins know their name sounds quite similar to pigeons?” But I couldn’t think of anything else, and I ended up using it. Made me laugh, anyway.
I’m not an event’s organiser. I planned my wedding, but I kind of had the advantage that a) most people would want to (read: feel obligated to) come to that and b) if they didn’t, well, more cake for us. I am not a sales person (no, seriously, ask my old boss..there’s a reason I don’t work there anymore..) and I most certainly do not know anything about the technical aspects of putting on a gig. Thankfully, I had some incredible people around me, some who quite literally saved the day, and of course the ever patient Mister, who kept me as sane as possible throughout the whole ordeal. He is also the one who informed me that no, I could not just change my mind and go home 3 minutes before I was due to take the stage.
As well as ticket sales, we held raffles, and I was blown away by some of the prizes donated by yet more of my creative friends. People also donated just for the hell of it, and other people allowed us to do jobs in return for some of their finest gold coin. The Mister, who also happens to be a Personal Trainer and qualified Sports Massage Therapist got his hands oily and gave out reduced price sports massages, putting that money in the fund pot. It was a tough old slog, but we got there.
We managed to raise 2 thirds of the target by the time the second gig was over, with the final third and difference being donated by a certain close family member of paternal leanings who would most probably rather remain nameless. I can’t begin to describe that feeling. Of accomplishment. Of relief. Of completely and utter awe and dumbfounded gratitude towards all of the people who have helped make this happen. The community (including wider community) spirit is unbreakable.
So, having sorted out all of the guff to do with insurance, flights, visa, vaccinations etc, I am almost ready to go. Alarmingly, I did find myself searching for (and purchasing) ‘beige linen trousers’ , which I never, ever thought I would be doing. I will miss the Mister, and my 3 boy wonders whilst I’m away, (thank goodness for FaceTime), but this really is the chance of a lifetime, and I hope that I can make a difference to somebody’s day whilst there, and bring back an even stronger desire to help in the recovery of the broken parts of humanity both in the UK and globally.