Ken's Many Musings PaR Events 2019 Contact

Emma Ballinger

Emma Ballinger, nurse and vice-chair of Porridge and Rice


I am currently living and working in South London with my 2 cats. I spend my free time working with Porridge and Rice as the vice chair and go out Kenya as a volunteer about twice a year to work on the ground.

My varied history is in teaching children with special educational needs, working in coffee shops, bookshops, clothing stores, nannying... then I found my vocation as a paediatric nurse and went into training in 2012.

Emma Ballinger



KS Learning

KS Learning provides tuition for all ages inluding GCSE and A Level for a wide range of subjects such as Mathematics, Science, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, English, History, French, German, Spanish, and more, in the Boroughs of Richmond-Upon-Thames, Hounslow, Kingston-Upon-Thames, and surrounding areas.

Tuition for A level and GCSE for students at school or home schooled in subjects like maths and english



Porridge and Rice

Porridge and Rice combats poverty in the Nairobi slums, home to some of the poorest people in the world, by enabling pupils at partner schools to obtain a sound education.

Porridge and Rice is fighting poverty through education for the extreme poor of the Nairobi slums




Contact

If you have thoughts that you would like to share with the world, please submit them by email.

Note that the editor will decide whether to publish and/or edit emails before publication. No discussion will be entered into.


KS Learning

KS Learning provides tuition for all ages inluding GCSE and A Level for a wide range of subjects such as Mathematics, Science, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, English, History, French, German, Spanish, and more, in the Boroughs of Richmond-Upon-Thames, Hounslow, Kingston-Upon-Thames, and surrounding areas.

Tuition for A level and GCSE for students at school or home schooled in subjects like maths and english



Porridge and Rice

Porridge and Rice combats poverty in the Nairobi slums, home to some of the poorest people in the world, by enabling pupils at partner schools to obtain a sound education.

Porridge and Rice is working to combat poverty through education for the extreme poor of the Nairobi slums




Contact

If you have thoughts that you would like to share with the world, please submit them by email.

Note that the editor will decide whether to publish and/or edit emails before publication. No discussion will be entered into.


Contact

If you have any thoughts that you would like to share, please feel free to email

Interests

Books Climbing Walking Cats Charity Kenya Nursing French Puzzles Craft Reading Craft Child Development French Nursing Hygiene Charity Cats Walking Climbing Books


Emma's Blog

Emma, a paediatric nurse and vice chair of the charity Porridge and Rice shares her thoughts on subjects that take her fancy.

Matt Haig

8 April 2019

Reading is an escape, but sometimes seems more accurate than life. Recently I finished every one of Matt Haig's books culminating in reading 'Humans; an A to Z'; a dictionary of human terms for newly arriving aliens to understand. I am not an alien, but still found it very informative. One of the sharpest observations was the definition of 'depression' as an inevitable consequence of the human condition in sentient beings.

His other works include The Humans (the accompanying novel) and The Radleys, both extremely witty, sharply observant and absorbing. 'Notes on a Nervous Planet' and 'Reasons to Stay Alive' give an insight to the author himself and what compels him to write. I read them both in one sitting, each page as thought-provoking and heart breaking as the next.

If you are looking for a cure to the human condition, then I can suggest becoming an alien and seeing the world afresh by reading 'Humans: an A to Z' on the bus and laughing out loud as I did.

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Losing my long hair for charity

21 February 2019

Donating the odd pound or two is easy, but trying to raise thousands of pounds is much more difficult. When challenged to raise £1000 for Porridge and Rice, I decided on an absolutely fantastic idea, at least, I thought that it was a fantastic idea at the time after a glass of wine or two.

I decided to cut off my very long and very much-loved hair - a brave move in retrospect - but at least Porridge and Rice would get the sponsorship money and the Little Princess Trust would receive the hair to make wigs for oncology patients. Great - double whammy of goodness.

In truth, it was the hardest thing I have ever done to raise money for charity, and I've climbed Mount Kenya. Removing part of my identity by cutting off my hair reminded me of the importance that we place on the little things.

emma, vice-chair of Poridge and Rice, raised 1315 for the work of Porridge and Rice by cutting her long hair
Emma shows how long her hair has grown over the many years that she has not cut it
Emma holds up the plaites that have been cut from her head, and which will be sent to a cancer charity
Emma shows off her new hairstyle after she cut her hair to raise money for Porridge and Rice

Nursing

5 February 2019

The greatest gift of all is good health. Good health can make us happy, allows us to reach our full potential and helps maintain relationships with the ones we love.

Nursing helps to deliver the gift of good health. I am proud to have the skills of being a nurse and be able to help others, especially through the work I do with Porridge and Rice.

Apparently, nursing is my destiny - thank you to my parents for supplying the embarrassing photo of me as a child.

Anyone can be who they want to be.

a small three year old Emma dresses up as a nurse, a sign of her future
Emma now a trained paediatric nurse, in Kenya for Porridge and Rice

Crafting for Charity

10 January 2019

I have always enjoyed crafting including knitting, crochet, photography and cross-stitch, so I leapt at the opportunity when it was suggested that I could raise money for the charity Porridge and Rice indulging in my crafty whims.

Much to my amusement of my cats, and customers in coffee shops, I attempted to make felt gingerbread men, Scottie dogs and crocheted mice (some resembling other less recognisable creatures). The cats were the harshest critics casting withering looks at me and my handiwork.

Despite the looks, it proved to be worth it when on one day at a local Christmas craft fair, over £300 worth of crafts were sold. Now it is time to get started on more stock!

crochet mouse made by Emma Ballinger to raise money for the work of Porridge and Rice
one of Emma's cats hold a mouse she has crocheted for Porridge and Rice
the cat seemed at ease with a crocheted mouse that it held gently in its arms
craft items for sale in Twickenham at the Christmas Fair to raise money for Porridge and Rice

Jenni's Kenyan Adventure

6 January 2019

In June 2018, I travelled to Kenya with Amanda and Jenni, trainee nurses completing the elective in their degree with Porridge and Rice at the schools in the Nairobi slums supported by the charity.

Jenni wrote up her trip on a blog called My Kenyan Adventure from teaching First Aid to climbing Mount Kenya. It is an interesting read. Take a look!

trainee nurses doing their elective with Porridge and Rice helping to serve breakfast
Emma, Jenny, and Amanda climb Mount Kenya to raise money for Porridge and Rice

Climbing Mount Kenya

5 January 2019

Some achievements are both emotional and personal like when I climbed Mount Kenya in June 2018.

Once the two nursing students and I reached the peak and saw the sun rising over Kenya, my mind went a-floating. I will always remember this moment, even though some of the details of the climb are fuzzy. My strongest emotion was a sense of overwhelming companionship when we all reached the top. We embraced sharing an emotional moment.

Emma, Jenny, and Amanda at the start of their climb up Mount Kenya to raise money for Porridge and Rice
Emma, Jenny, and Amanda reach one of the overnight stations on the slopes of Mount Kenya
climbing Mount Kenya involves lots of walking through terrain where the vegetation becomes progressively more sparse
as the climb takes you higher, it gets colder and it is necessary to wear warm clothing
the top of Mount Kenya is very cold with snow on the ground and cold mist
the top of mount kenya covered in snow, cold, stark and beautiful

First Aid Training

2 January 2019

While the St John's First Aid courses did a good job, we found there were still a number of areas that needed addressing. For example, I discovered that anti-histamines were being used as paracetamol for fever.

So in June 2018, I and two competent student nurses, conducted follow-up assessments and lessons at Porridge and Rice. schools. Jenny and Amanda took to the teaching like fish to water, observing first-hand the benefits to the schools and individual teachers.

Once the teacher lessons were completed, the two student nurses (now qualified, and yes, I am very proud) decided that the children would benefit from learning basic 1st aid and set about teaching all of the older classes. The children proved to be quick on the uptake and willing to demonstrate Heimlich manoeuvres on each other.

Mary, deputy head teacher of Excel, and Beth, head teacher of Lizpal, show their first aid certificates
volunteer nurses Jenny and Amanda who ran first aid courses for teachers and pupils at Porridge and Rice partner schools

St John's Ambulance

31 December 2018

The incident when I saved a child's life got me thinking about what would have happened if I weren't present.

Why did it take a nurse to administer the first aid that saved the child's life? Surely the adults at all Porridge and Rice schools could learn how to perform such life-saving tasks along with other key medical activities like how to clean and dress a wound.

The teachers saw healthcare as the duty of the nurses and doctors, and had never been given an opportunity to learn it themselves. They were adept at handing out paracetamol, but less cognisant of the causes of headaches such as dehydration induced in the overcrowded classrooms. They were, however, very willing to learn.

As a result of the near-miss tragic event, all heads and deputies have been sent on first aid courses with St Johns ambulance, Kenya to ensure the safety of pupils at Porridge and Rice schools, all year round whether a nurse or healthcare professional is present.

first aid training with st john's ambulance in nairobi for porridge and rice schools
training in first aid with st john's ambulance can save lives

Choking

26 December 2018

There are times when a little knowledge can prevent the death of a child.

One Saturday in July 2015 and I was addressing a large group of parents at Excel school, a Porridge and Rice school in the Nairobi slums, when I heard my name being called. Titus, the head of the school, beckoned me to come outside as there was a 'little problem with a child'.

The child was starting to froth at the mouth, was unable to breathe and his eyes were bulging in terror after swallowing a coin. Some teachers and parents were trying to get him to drink water and eat a banana which while well-intended, would only make matters worse.

I placed the 2 year old boy on my lap and after a few sharp back and abdominal blows, the coin flew out along with a little vomit.

It was flattering to be nicknamed the angel of the slums, but sad to think that had I not been there, would have been catastrophe.

emma ballinger of porridge and rice rescues a child after he starts choking ny turning him upside down and thumping him firmly on the back
pupils at excel emmanuel a porridge and rice partner school in the nairobi slums

Nutrition in the Nairobi slums

19 December 2018

Child mortality in the Nairobi slums reaches 1 in 5. If someone in the community were aware of how to prevent the problem, many children could be saved.

On a Saturday morning in summer 2015 at a Porridge and Rice school, I taught a lesson on nutrtion to parents and teachers.I explained the importance of nutrition and why Porridge and Rice commenced a feeding programme in each of its partner schools. As many of the parents did not speak English, I was lucky to have a parent who understood the topic to translate for me.

I drew the ideal diet division on the blackboard - a third carbohydrates, a third protein and a third fruit and vegetables - then explained why each are so important and which foods are in each group. They were interested but wanted proof that changing their diet would actually be of benefit to them, and not me just dictating my preferences.

I knew that proving my case would be difficult and take time, after all, it took nearly 3 years to persuade teachers that six tablespoons of sugar in their tea was not healthy. I also knew that I needed to build a relationship with them so that they would trust what I tell them.

Sadly, the hot sugary milk and wedge of sweetened bread handed to the guests, did little to back my case for a healthy balanced diet where food is fuel and not just filling ...

emma ballinger teaching a lesson on the basics of nutrition and its importance to health
a balanced diet must include carbohydrates, lipids and proteins along with nutrients like iron, iodine and vitamin A