Invited by Nando’s UK to travel to Mozambique where the much-loved chicken brand is embedded in efforts to eradicate Malaria, Ocean left for Southern Africa with Ashley Verse, Sonny Turner, and Nando’s to help in the fight against the preventable disease.
Supporting the Nando’s Fighting Malaria initiative, Ocean recounts her experience of being an ‘Anti-Malaria Sprayer’, which involves teams going from home to home, coating the walls in a non-toxic insecticide that protects families from malaria-carrying mosquitoes.
“something as simple as not having access to malaria tablets, that’s something we take for granted. Seeing the way of life there by meeting the families and spending time with them, instead of taking in the information we see on TV in the U.K. is how I felt I was exposed to how surreal the situation is. it was clear that there was an unspoken realisation between everyone on the team which brought us all onto the same page”.
“I’m acknowledging things I didn’t notice before, let’s say the materialistic items I have which I am grateful for. I’m now looking at my things and thinking of the families I met who had minimalistic possessions or how the people I met in Mozambique value happiness. It’s totally different to how I see us live our life in the U.K.”
Wanting to dig deeper into this trail of thought, an encounter which played on Ocean’s memory was the moment she met a little girl called Virginia, describing her to be so cute and happy, as were her sister and Mum who also had that infectious state of happiness. Thinking out loud, the newly empowered volunteer said:
“it makes me think how we in the west, how we are so emerged in social media. The idea of having stuff to make you happy and even down to the music we listen to is completely different to the way the lifestyle is like in Mozambique. When we were working with the other sprayers, it felt like we were brought into that infectious happy mindset. I barely looked at my phone unless I wanted to capture something, but even then I just wanted to get back to being present in that moment, instead of being on my phone as I used to be in the U.K.”
Reflecting on being asked to come on board for the trip, Ocean describes how she knew passing up on it was out of the question:
“the experience was amazing, far better than how I had imagined it. There was so much culture surrounding Nando’s central, I just learnt so much about the art that involves Nando’s – did you know that all the art across every Nando’s is made by artists from South Africa? I had no idea. Right next to the central kitchen, the son of the owner, has even set up a creatives hub space which empowers artists to pursue their art and empower women along the process too. I love that.”
Knowing Ocean had already been bit by the ‘volunteering bug’ (myself and others being victim of this situation before) I knew there was a message brewing that Ocean wanted to share:
“Helping hands on was definitely an experience that changed my outlook on life, I’d love to go out again for a minimum of a month. I feel like it’s important for people to feel inclined to do their research and literally just go out and do it. Overthinking what could go wrong is where the problem is. I always knew I wanted to volunteer but I just struggled to know where I could start. The truth is the expectations of what I have watched in the news is the only source of reality I had to go with and this mindset is where confusion could come from of thinking maybe it’s not safe? I shouldn’t go and I should donate money instead; really all it takes is to ask people who have volunteered what their experience was like, that’s your starting point. Don’t over think it, literally just go and do it.”
If you want to know more about how to get into volunteering or knowing more about what the experience is like, Ocean is happy for anyone to reach out to her via socials. For now, take a look at the gallery of photos shared that capture the experience, alongside more info of what Nando’s are doing by clicking on this link https://www.nandos.co.uk/small-change-big-difference and if you happen to head to the restaurant anytime soon, keep your eye out for the beautifully crafted bracelets made by communities in South Africa, who are raising money for Nando’s Fighting Malaria.