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2016: My year of firsts

14 years ago today, I moved back home from London full of hope, deliriously happy and grateful to God for his mercies. Every December since then, I have reflected on the year, written about it and shared via e-mail, facebook or more recently blog. This year, I noticed that I had a few first-time experiences, from signing audited accounts as a Board member of a certain logistics company to being appointed Membership Director at Freetown Aqua Sports Club to celebrating Edrina and Dayolin's 40th birthdays at different hotels in London (my fam and friends know I love staying in hotels; I appreciate the 'me' time and service). Here are some more:

Lynda-Marie Fatima Johnson (LM) is my adorable two-year old grandniece. Sometime in February, I agreed to be her primary carer and on 1 June her mother dropped her off. At that point I was like "my Lord, what have I done?" You see, until then I hadn't quite decided yet whether or not I wanted children, but I felt caring for her was something I had to do. I have been responsible for this little person for the first time ever for just over six months now and it has been an experience and a half thus far. We are both still adjusting to our relationship; she makes me laugh and pull my hair out several times a day, and I look forward to our years ahead.

Edders (named after me, in memory of my dear friend who used to call me that) is the 3rd vehicle I have owned. The first was a VW Cabrio called Lily, which I absolutely loved but couldn't drive as I seemed to rebel against driving a manual vehicle. I bought a 2nd hand automatic RAV4 within two years. I could never seem to find a suitable name for it, but those who know me know we had the most major fights. Fast forward eight years and Edders is my first brand new vehicle. I felt I owed it to myself to take a break from car fights for a few years, and we're totally in love at the moment. This was not my first loan though, but I can safely say it's the first time I have borrowed this amount 😬

If you know me, you know I'm very shy and struggle to do anything that makes me feel silly. To avoid talking about JobSearch (as a sponsor) at Vickie Remoe's first Recipes for Success event, I suggested doing a video instead, thinking that if it was just us two I would feel comfortable. I am certain it was the worst interview that Vickie had ever done. I was so self-conscious and couldn't remember anything about my nine year old company. To redeem myself, I suggested being MC for the event. She agreed, reluctantly I'm sure, but she didn't regret it. She invited me to be MC for the next one, I got numerous compliments and an invite to be MC for another event. In March, as sponsor of 'Women Mean Business Honors', I made a statement and was due to perform as guest speaker at an event this month as well, but sadly it was postponed and I am unavailable on the new date.

In January 2015, I went into full time self-employment. Towards the end of the year, I got an offer from Adam Smith International to be part of their Revenue for Prosperity team at National Revenue Authority as part-time Training Advisor. I thought about it and concluded that it was a great opportunity to learn and be a part of Sierra Leone's development. Halfway through the year, I accepted an offer from Philip Morris as Consultant, a less demanding role. Juggling all the work has been tiring, but rewarding (no, I'm not only talking about money). I am grateful to my staff for helping to lighten the load.

2016 was my year for skills development. I signed an MOU with the TVET Coalition on behalf of JobSearch, took part in a BBC Africa twitter chat and developed and delivered Customer Care, Business Communication, Presentation Skills and Time Management training for new clients. The feedback was amazing and helped build up my confidence. I said in last year's blog that this was my raison d'etre and it was affirmed this year. 2017, here we come!!!

When my friend Jasmin told me she was planning a tea party for her birthday, part of the excitement for me was dressing up, and that included wearing a fascinator for the first time. I ended up buying four, as I did not know what dress I would be wearing. I was very pleased with the result (even if I do say so myself ;-))

I had never been Chairman of anything before and felt chuffed when Aunty Jennifer sent me a letter to sign and it said Chairman, Fundraising Committee underneath my name. Wellwoman clinic has been a part of my life for ten years and raising funds for it has been one of the most humbling and fulfilling experiences. Please give a gift of life this Christmas. We're still raising funds for our mammogram machine and to care for patients who cannot afford to pay for it themselves. Click here to make a donation.

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