It feels somewhat strange to say this, but I’m travelling again. The reason it feels a little peculiar is that I’m still processing all that I experienced on my trip to Europe six weeks ago. Not to mention how odd it is for me to travel twice in such a short time after almost three years of hardly leaving my house.
This time I’m in Mauritius, visiting Global Rainbow Foundation, a disability-focused organisation. I’m sure I’ll soon be sharing more about Global Rainbow Foundation and the amazing work they do to assist persons living with disabilities in Mauritius, but for now all I’ll say is that I’m learning how the foundation operates and am speaking at the Enable Mauritius conference taking place later this week. So there’s plenty for me to do while I’m here.
Of course, it would be silly to go to the beautiful island of Mauritius and not take advantage of the time there to relax and enjoy the beaches, entertainment, and delicious food that’s on offer. So we’re taking an extra week to help us recover from what has turned out to be a particularly busy year.
Once I’m back I’ll continue sharing stories from my travels to Europe, and then probably dive straight into sharing a few of my experiences from this trip.
In the meantime, wish me success with my presentations at the Enable Mauritius conference. It’s going to be such fun to speak there!
It was an extraordinary experience for me to be part of an international panel discussing empowering others through sharing your personal story for the Women in Publishing Online Summit taking place from 4 – 8 March. It was both a pleasure and a privilege to share with the other women authors I met on the panel and whose stories blew me away!
The Summit includes more than 70 women from all areas of the publishing industry – authors, editors, designers, publishers and marketers – sharing some of their best thoughts and ideas on creating and publishing a book. Whether you’re an aspiring author wanting to publish your first book or an experienced author wanting to learn more tricks of the trade, the WIP Summit is a great resource.
Here’s a link to get a free ticket to the event, which allows you to access the interviews for a few days from the start of the Summit: https://loisstrachan–writepublishsell.thrivecart.com/free–registration/
I registered for the WIP Summit last year and chose to upgrade to the All Access Pass (AAP) because I knew I wouldn’t be able to watch all the interviews and gain maximum value from what was being shared in the time the free ticket gave me access. It took me almost 9 months to work through them all. But that’s entirely up to you.
PS Yes, the link is an affiliate link – but I only get commission if you decide to upgrade to the AAP. Still I’d appreciate your using the link above if you want to attend so the organisers know I’m sharing the news of this great event.
It was with some surprise that I read the mail inviting me to be a speaker at the inaugural accidentalmuslims.com leadership conference – after all, I’m not Muslim, nor do I know much about the Muslim faith, much to my own embarrassment. However, having learned more about the theme and aims of the conference- developing leadership and living with purpose – , I began to realize that it would be an exciting event for me to speak at.
Here’s how they describe the conference in one of their recent Facebook posts:
“AccidentalMuslims.com is proud to bring you their first Annual Flagship Leadership Conference in Cape Town, together with Old Mutual Investment Group – where they showcase community, career & industry leaders in their fields to inspire you to live with purpose, passion and intentionality.
They believe everybody has a story to tell and that you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. So come, meet and network with like-minded, passionate and inspiring individuals.”
After all who wouldn’t want to be considered a passionate and inspiring individual with a story to tell?
One of the things I’ve enjoyed as we’ve prepared to take to the stage is the care with which accidentalmuslims.com has supported the speakers. I was encouraged to attend an initial review session where our questions were answered and we were given expert mentoring on our initial speech ideas. This coming weekend I will be participating in a second review session where we will present our talks and receive additional mentoring – and I have no doubt it will be of the same value that I was given at the first review.
One of the questions I raised at the first review was about whether or not it would be appropriate for me to bring my guide dog, Fiji, to the event. I didn’t want to appear disrespectful to the cultural or religious prohibition against dogs. I was assured by the conference organisers that they wanted me to bring Fiji– that the independence I’ve gained through working with Fiji is, in fact, part of what they hope I can teach the attendees about leadership and living with purpose.
The conference takes place at the Baxter Theatre, in Cape Town on 30 September 2017 – for more information or to book your ticket online through Computicket you can use the following link: http://online.computicket.com/web/event/accidentalmuslims_com_convention/1155050885/0/80672916
Buy your ticket now – they’re selling fast! Fiji and I will see you there!
As you may recall, the reason I was in Ghana in the first place was to speak at the 5th annual AFRINEAD conference on disability.
Sitting in the conference centre at the KWAMA Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, Ghana, listening to a Star-studded group of dignitaries address the challenges inherent in developing policies, strategies and plans to increase the inclusion of persons with disabilities into society across Africa, I began to seriously rethink the focus of the keynote presentation I would give the following day.
Most of those speaking at the opening ceremony were politicians and academics and, since I’m neither of those, I began to consider what value I could add to the conversation – a message that was uniquely mine and could supplement the work the politicians and academics were doing. While, of course, bearing the theme of the conference – assistive technology- in mind.
And then it struck me – by sharing my own story, my own experiences of how assistive technology has increased what I can accomplish on my own, and also what I’ve learned from talking to HR departments and managers about employment of those with disabilities, I could provide a personal context to highlight the importance of the policies, strategies and plans that were being discussed.
And I’m really glad I did!
Every now and then as a speaker I receive feedback on a fundamental shift that my words and stories have made on a person who was listening to what I was saying; that my message held a particular significance for them as an individual. It’s probably the most powerful reminder of our purpose as speakers… at least, it is for me!
I was granted the gift of such a moment in Ghana. After I spoke one of the delegates approached me and told me my words had redefined his reason for doing the work he does in the field of assisting those with mobility impairments – that my words showed him that he was, in fact, changing people’s lives for the better with what he was doing.
So, apart from the amazing contacts I made at the conference, the wonderful people I met and with whom I shared the experience of travelling to this beautiful country, I’m grateful to the organisers of the AFRINEAD conference for giving me the opportunity of being in the right place, at the right time, to reconnect that delegate with his purpose.
I took an audio recording of my presentation but haven’t had a chance to edit it yet – if it turned out okay I’ll post a link in a future blog so you can listen to what I said.
It’s finally arrived! By the time you read this I’ll be heading off to Cape Town airport to catch my first flight on my journey to Ghana… Or even sitting in the airport waiting to board the plane.
So, as I sit staring pensively into the middle distance in the airport terminal I think it’s a fair time to reflect on how extraordinarily lucky I am to be heading off on this latest adventure.
I certainly couldn’t have done so without the help of friends and family – Craig was wonderful about helping me gather the documents I needed for the travel visa and generally in supporting me as I’ve prepared for this trip, and my friend Hillary has been not only a fountain of information on what to expect at the AFRINEAD Conference and in Ghana itself, but very generously offered to spare me the trip to get my visa at the Ghanaian High Commission.
I’ve also been overwhelmed by the wonderful support, enthusiasm and well wishes from people who appear to be almost as excited as I am about this amazing adventure I’m embarking on – almost as excited, but not quite!
I’ve pre-written articles to be posted while I’m away as I seriously doubt I’ll have time during the trip to update you on my adventure. Rest assured, I’ll have plenty of stories to share with you about my epic journey when I get back.
You know, there’s one activity that mom does on a regular basis that simply doesn’t make sense to me – going to meetings. I mean, we get into a car and go somewhere interesting, meet up with lots of fascinating people whose shoes and clothes often smell of interesting things like other dogs, cats… and on one remarkable recent occasion, even a Rabbit! Now, all of that makes a certain degree of sense – we dogs are social beings so going somewhere we can connect with others is lots of fun. But then they all go and sit down and it just gets really boring for me – a few people stand up and go to the front of the room and talk for a bit (sometimes even mom does this) and then they sit down while everyone smacks their paws together. And then someone else stands up and walks to the front of the room and the whole thing happens all over again. I promise I really try to sit still and behave like mom wants me to but I get so bored that eventually I start to sniff the floor to see if anyone perhaps dropped something interesting, or I put my head on someone’s lap in case they’re as bored as I am and are also looking for a distraction – I’m sure they appreciate that I’m giving them something useful to do. But then mom gets me to come and lie down and the seemingly endless cycle starts again. So, if any of you can explain this very peculiar human behavior to me, I’d really appreciate it… Wags!
Three weeks today I’ll be sitting on a flight winging my way to Accra, in Ghanafor the AFRINEAD Conference. Travel is always exciting and this time I’m really looking forward to the experience of being a blind tourist in a new (for me) country, and for having the opportunity of attending and speaking at the AFRINEAD Conference.
So, rather than posting a long article about what I expect to happen while I’m there, and all that I’m looking forward to, let me just leave this article as it is – I’m going to Ghana and I simply can’t wait!
And I’ll share my experiences with you when I get back.
Now, to figure out where I need to go to get my Yellow Fever inoculation… Hmm…
A friend contacted me in response to a Facebook post I published about one of my recent speeches – one about how I use a computer and other assistive technology to help me live a full, fun and productive life despite my blindness. Essentially my friend asked if I would be willing to consider speaking on that topic at a conference in Ghana later this year.
I’m sure you can imagine my response… Would I consider speaking at a disability conference on a topic that is close to my heart? Well… umm… let me think…
Of course, yes!
The 5th AFRINEAD Conference takes place in Kumasi, Ghana in early August. What makes this conference especially appropriate for me as a speaker is the theme: Disability and Inclusion in Africa; the role of Assistive Technology’
I’ve submitted my abstract for consideration and am currently waiting with bated breath to see if I will be on the list of speakers for the event…
And, of course, an added bonus is that it will give me the chance to visit a country I’ve never been before… with plenty of potential future articles about what it’s like travelling as a blind tourist in Ghana!
Isn’t it amazing how sometimes the most exciting opportunities just drop into one’s lap?