So pleased to have made contact this summer with Maria Bradford, author of a new cookbook "Sweet Salone" (https://shwenshwen.com/book/). Maria beautifully captures the rich cultural context behind her recipes and describes her memories of life in Freetown. Her blogs are powerful, inspiring, and filled with photos from her Motherland. I am eager to try some of Maria's Afro-fusion recipes that are new to me, as well as some of my long-time West African favourites like Jollof Rice.
Over the past six months, I have been attending Zoom meetings of the Ottawa Storytelling group and more recently, Storytellers Toronto. I've heard excellent stories told by those who have honed their craft. The range of stories told at each meeting is always impressive - fables, fairytales, personal anecdotes, ballads, and more. I'm learning how to morph written stories from my memoir to oral stories. It's a fascinating process. I'm grateful for those who have been willing to listen to the recreated stories and provide feedback.
I have an image, of an actor telling stories of community health experiences in Sierra Leone, while working on quilt blocks. I've begun exploring the history of quilting among Black women in Canada and the United States. So many interesting facets and junctures to this journey. The Vale Quilters of Nova Scotia have a fabulous exhibit of their quilts, which present some of Nova Scotia's Black history. Their work, titled "The Secret Code" is currently being shown on Prince Edward Island and slated for display at the Textile Museum of Canada in April, 2023. The exhibit is described here: www.halifaxexaminer.ca/black-nova-scotia/stitching-together-a-history-of-quilting-in-african-nova-scotia-communities/.
I'm trying out oral story-telling, something new (for me). I'm in the process of converting some of the anecdotes in my memoir to oral stories, learning from those who've honed their craft. I'm discovering the substantial network of oral story-tellers in Canada and the U.S. who share their stories on-line.
I've connected with Ottawa's story-telling group and recently shared one of my stories during their (Un)told session (January, 2023). Writing groups and book clubs have generously allowed me to workshop my stories. The instructor and students in an on-line course offered by Toronto's Story-telling Group are boosting my skills. (A Saturday afternoon story-telling course is a great antidote for our long winter). I've drafted and tested a few oral stories: "The Flying Pigeon Bicycles Fiasco", "A Breakthrough in Neonatal Tetanus", and "Reaching Minds and Hearts Through Drama". A story about traditional birth attendants is in the works. Not entirely sure where this oral story-telling will take me but I'm going to keep at it. A script for a drama might be in the offing.
Over the years, I've given a lot of thought to careers in global health and spoken to many professionals in health and other sectors about their experiences. There is no doubt that global health careers come in many shapes and sizes. There are ample opportunities for involvement at home or abroad.
I wrote much of my memoir in the midst of COVID-19. This provided another prompt for me to consider options for global health careers. I've written about some of these in a recent publication (see links below). I hope my article will spark discussion, debate, and new ideas. I am looking forward to several presentations that I have lined up this fall to discuss global health careers.
In September 2018, I completed a writing residency at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Centre in Northern Italy. COVID-19 brought all events at the Centre to a screeching halt for an extended period of time. The Centre is gradually reopening. Announcements about residencies and workshops are forthcoming. Updates about the Centre's activities are posted here:
The grounds of the Bellagio Centre are located on a 50-acre promontory of land on Lake Como. The villa provides a spectacular vista of the lake, granite mountains, and small villages dotting the area. Walking paths on the grounds wend through clusters of pine trees, the ruins of an old castle, olive and cypress trees, and gorgeous flowering bushes. Church bells ring out from the village at noon each day, providing a calming interlude from intense writing. From the balcony of my study room, I had a panoramic view. Dr. Saleem Ali described the intent and purpose of the Bellagio Centre, and captured the beauty of the area in his article, which first appeared in Springer Nature, August 22, 2021. See https://www.rockefellerfoundation.org/blog/human-connections-conferences-and-sustainability/.
The Bellagio Centre is a perfect setting to deepen reflections, foster creativity, and sharpen writing. The month-long residency provided me with many opportunities for inspiring conversations with fellow residents: novelists, poets, non-fiction writers, and scientists. The experience gave me the boost I needed to seriously embark on penning my memoir.