Our Leaders: Jola

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Jola

I am currently volunteering at the Angelou centre, performing different tasks and the Kittiwake Trust Multilingual Library as a librarian. I am also a trustee at the library. I would say I volunteer full time as a migrant woman currently going through the immigration system and someone who needs time to recover from medical treatment.

I’ve always loved nature. I was born in Nigeria. Everywhere we’ve lived has always provided access to green even sometimes if one tree. My family was quite protective so we really weren’t allowed to wander like other children but whenever I could, you’d find me somewhere under a tree. As a child, I always believed little people lived inside them, keeping alive and replenishing the earth as we slept. Moving to the UK, I felt excluded from nature by different groups and also the amount of work I had to do at university. When my mental health suffered, nature was my escape. Fortunately, I lived in Durham at the time. One thing I have noticed since leaving Nigeria is that there are less people like us when I walk around. Accessibility to these places are vital to not only our mental and physical health but also healing to our communities.

Access to the countryside, nature to these places and meeting other people is vital to our survival. Nature is purifying and really gets us to think deeply about ourselves and our community.

I’m really looking forward to camping, I’ve never done that before. I also can’t wait to create and see what pours out of me from this experience.I’m hoping to learn new skills and increase my confidence. I hope to make new friends, get a moment to breathe. I also can’t wait to meet the other wonderful people and hear their stories, share their experiences and learn something I can pass on to others.

I would love running projects around the country. Teaching people it’s okay to reclaim space for themselves and others. I hope they can feel connected to the earth and really enjoy their time. I hope to help inspire future generations to really love the land and create beautiful memories they can share with others.

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After our first to Harehope Quarry, in County Durham with Bruce from Wild North Discovery, where we spent out time wild foraging Jola had this to say:

Here was my thought on the trip on Thursday. After a weekend out in nature, I returned home feeling rejuvenated, however all the stresses of life caught up with me and I began to struggle. I felt drained, frustrated and embarrassed. Why was I feeling like this? Especially after such an amazing weekend. I felt the void closing in. I felt the need to lock myself in and isolated myself. Then I received an email on Wednesday. It was for a trip on Thursday. I read Sherees post on post walk depression before this so when asked if I wanted to go, I jumped at the chance. The moment I walked into the Angelou centre, I felt a massive weight fall off my shoulders. Everyone was excited, their eyes twinkling with joy. I started to smile again. We got to Harehope Quarry and girl was it beautiful. The cabin was like something set out in an old western film with amazing natural views. Learning about foraging naturally took me back to little lessons I learned about poisonous and delicious food in our garden as a child. Some of the things we tasted were just like magic. Leaf that tasted like mustard and mind. Buds that tasted just like nuts. It was amazing. We made a fire and cooked what we foraged. I felt my inner girl scout, I never was a girl scout but I was connected to nature and nature was connected to me. I just couldn’t stop singing. Returning home once again, I had an amazing sleep and feel rejuvenated. I can’t wait to just be out in nature again