Archive for ‘Journal’

May 31, 2021

E4C Research Fellowship 2021

This year I am excited to be back for a third run with the Engineering for Change Research Fellowship. This year there are 50 fellows in the fellowship from around the world. 25 fellows are in the E4C fellowship cohort doing similar work to past fellowships, and 25 are in a new cohort that is being sponsored by the Autodesk Foundation. This time around I am working as a program coordinator for this new cohort that is doing a variety of research with many of Autodesk Foundation’s portfolio organizations. I am coordinating and overseeing the work of six fellows from around the world working with Adaptiv, Bridges to Prosperity, The Okoa Project, EarthEnable, UNHCR, and the Autodesk Foundation. The projects are diverse and dependent on the specific needs of each organization. The different work includes the designs of building prototypes, manuals, spatial analysis, programs, and standards.

My position started in April and the first month was mostly planning and administration to work with each partner to settle on the scope for their project. Then at the beginning of May we had a three day virtual kick-off session with the fellows. I missed the in-person component of past fellowships that makes you feel a sense of camaraderie and membership, but they found ways to have randomized small sessions that gave a chance for more personal encounters. Not long after the kick-off session with the fellows we had kick-off sessions with each partner organization and their fellow as a way to launch each project. Now I am following and reviewing the work of my fellows as they have jumped full swing into their projects. I think that by the end of this summer we will an amazing collection of research, design, and documentation!

This year’s E4C fellowship cohort!
May 24, 2021

Moses at 14 Months

The last two months have been full of adventure as Moses gets more independent. He enjoys running around the house, walking and exploring the streets of our neighbourhood with us, and eating (however messily) with a spoon or fork. He is talking gibberish more often including “oo’s” and “aa’s” and only says “Mamamama!” when he is frustrated. He also says “uh oh” after he drops something (or before he is planning to drop something) and “brm brmmmm” for the sound of a car. He understands and can follow simple instructions in English and French like putting his dirty clothes in the laundry basket, throwing something in the garbage bin, or putting a toy away on the shelf.

Because of his newfound independence we have had to keep an even closer eye on him. This month he started climbing onto our bed, the couches, and the kitchen chairs on his own and so now nothing on the table is out of his reach! His movement has increased but his spatial awareness and balance are still lacking and so we are constantly reaching out to catch him when he falls. One time I was not close by enough to catch him and he hit his head against the armrest of our couch and needed four stitches! It was a scary event as fairly new parents and we are thankful that he recovered well. Knowing Moses, I’m sure it won’t be the last tumble.

April 24, 2021

Protected: Your Fourteenth Month

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March 14, 2021

2020 in Books

Continuing the tradition of documenting the books I have read, here is the list from 2020. I didn’t read as much the last two years while living in Uganda and Congo because of limited access to books, but now I have resolved to get in the habit of reading more ebooks on my phone and listening to audiobooks. It is also a better way to spend time during the Covid19 pandemic than reading the news. Books read in 2020:

  • The Boat People by Sharon Bala
  • The Reason for God by Timothy Keller
  • The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
  • Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine (part of The Great Library series)
  • The Hollow Earth Trilogy by John and Carole E. Barrowman
  • Persuasion by Jane Austin
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February 28, 2021

Moses at 12 months

How is Moses a year old already!? This month he started walking with more confidence. He now enjoys sweeping standing up and walking around the house with his toothbrush and toothpaste in hand. Two more bottom teeth came in bringing them to a total of 8! Moses got sick with Rubella this month which was his first bigger illness and caused our first worry as parents. For his birthday we cooked up a storm and invited a bunch of friends over to celebrate. It is hard to believe that our sturdy and increasingly independent one year old was once the small and fragile wide-eyed baby who came into our lives one year ago!

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February 27, 2021

Protected: Your Twelfth Month

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January 26, 2021

Moses at 11 Months

This month you took your first wobbly steps! We enjoyed playing the game “walk to Papa or Mama” with you as you slowly mastered crossing the space between us. Other activities you enjoy are crawling down the hallway at super-speed and laughing as if we can’t get you, grabbing the broom and sweeping the floor, and joining Papa in playing guitar. You have passed on from the biting phase to the yelling and whining phase as you try to figure out how to express your needs and wants! We love you Mr. Bright Eyes!

January 23, 2021

Protected: Your Eleventh Month

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January 21, 2021

We have living room furniture!

A few days ago the first group of lounge chairs that I designed arrived! It was a long wait because the carpenter had a hard time following drawings and was busy with too much work from other people. The wood does not have its final finish yet and so I am going to wait to write a more detailed post. We want to finish them with linseed oil from Uganda (the only option available here is varnish) and so it will be some time yet before they are complete. I can’t help but share one picture because it feels so good to have comfortable places to sit in our living room after a year of living in this apartment. We are now just waiting for a corner couch that will complete the ensemble. When it comes we will move the rocking chair to Moses’ room.

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January 14, 2021

A New Season: Working Mom

It is hard to believe that Moses is ten months old and we are now in 2021. It has been a challenging and yet memorable year. We have not progressed as for as we imagined we would with our plans, but we are thankful to God for everything He has provided in His timing. We are thankful for Moses who is strong, energetic and curious, our family’s health, a nice apartment in a calm neighbourhood, a kind landlord and kind neighbours, the big ideas we have for projects here in Kinshasa, and most recently a new work opportunity.

A few months ago Adam House reached out to me because they were looking for recommendations for contractors and architects for a new reno they are planning. I thought of my colleague Darcie who I worked with during my time with Rolf and who has now started a practice called Areacode Architects. Then I had a lightbulb moment. What if I proposed to bring the project to Darcie and ask if she can hire me to work on it? Well that is exactly what happened and it turns out she has other work for me to do too! So thanks to my involvement with Adam House, I now have a part-time job. I am thankful to God for bringing all of the pieces together.

The transition into working was not easy because there was not enough time in the day to care for Moses, do household tasks, and get work done. I was becoming very sleep deprived. Household tasks are more time consuming here and I have realized that Congolese people manage it all by living and working in community. Another challenge is that power comes and goes in our neighbourhood meaning that sometimes we want to work but simply cannot. After two weeks of being stretched thin we finally found by recommendation a lady to come and take care of household tasks and help with Moses here and there. She has been helping for several weeks now and it has made a world of difference. Othy and I are both working from home and so we often find ourselves taking turns in engaging with Moses while the other gets some things done.

I am happy that the work is part-time because there are a few projects here that I want to put some time into to get off the ground. One of them is a wood and steel fabrication shop. The furniture that I have been designing slowly but surely over the past year are the first prototypes. We have learned that we really need to start our own shop because people here cannot follow drawings even when each individual piece is laid out in detail. The carpenter has had a particularly hard time with our couches and I have had to go there several times to work with him. Tradespeople here have a tendency to take on more work than they can handle and then lie and make excuses when they do not meet a deadline. The carpenter has delayed for many months and it is a test to our patience and I struggle with how to respond in a firm and yet Christ-like manner. I am realizing how challenging it is going to be to do architecture here with the level of quality control that I want to have! It is another reason why it makes sense to start small with some prefabricated building elements!

I am also helping Othy with graphics, editing, and advertising for some of his businesses. He has started a company called Syglog Technologies that develops software solutions, and set up a web hosting platform called AmaniData. I developed the icons and logos for both and now I am developing a strategic social media marketing plan. If you are looking for someone to design some software, or a place to host your website or purchase a domain name, consider supporting us and get in touch! It has been interesting to step into another area of work, though it only reinforces that architecture and community development are my true passions! We also have some other exciting projects upcoming and I look forward to sharing them in future posts!

Our apartment is just starting to feel like a home and we are now making plans to leave it. It sounds strange to say in the midst of Covid, but 2021 is a big year of travelling for us. We have plans to spend a few months in the east of Congo with Othy’s family, and then in the summer Othy will be going to the US for the Washington Mandela Fellowship which looks like will be going forward (it was postponed from last year). Moses and I will likely spend some of that time in Canada with family and hopefully the border will be open for Othy to be able to come and meet us there after his fellowship. It is a good time for us to travel because Moses is still young and and we are working remotely for the most part. We are still weighing the pros and cons of putting our apartment on Airbnb, putting our things in storage somewhere, or selling a good portion of our things. Airbnb is our preferred option but with the pandemic it could be financially risky. Travelling during this time will require us to let go of control and expectations and take things one step at a time.

So that is a snapshot of what this new season is looking like for our family and for me as a working mom. And soon we will be jumping into another season as a nomadic family! Please keep us in your prayers as we navigate the new challenges of these seasons! We would love to hear how you are doing so please get in touch! Here are a few Christmas photos we took this year.

Prayer Requests:

Praises:

  • Moses is strong, healthy and full of energy
  • I found work which will help stabilize our finances
  • I injured my back a month ago but I have healed for the most part. We also found a chiropractor in Congo-Brazzaville who was willing to cross the border and stay with us for a few days to give me treatment.
  • We found a woman who is helping us with housework and is doing good work
  • We are thankful that Congo has not been hit too hard by Covid. We pray that this will continue to be the case

Petitions:

  • Pray for discernment for us as we make decisions for projects here in Kinshasa and also for our upcoming travel
  • Pray that we establish a healthy balance between parenting, working, and spending time as a couple
  • Pray that my back strengthens and I stay free from injury
  • Pray that we find a long-term air-bnb guest so that we can keep this apartment and our things while we are away
  • Continue to pray for the security situation in North Kivu as attacks against civilians by rebel militia are still happening on a weekly basis but are now generally ignored by the media; pray that justice come to the perpetrators and peace return to the region