Tag Archives: overseas aid

Comic Remedies

19 Jun

….Part 7  (Dictated to me by small, guest blogger/daughter.)

“My mum said that I can have the last blog where we talk about the street children in Namibia.The very last thing we did that day – on the day when all of these pictures were taken – after we gave the children all of the things that had been bought for them, was this:

WE GAVE AWAY OUR BELOVED BEANO’S!!! (3 exclamation marks please, mum!)  ARRGHHHH! I just can’t believe that we did that. And other comics too! And here is a photo of the children with them:Their new comics - not enough! Need more!

But we were so happy that they got something to read. Because this will entertain them. And teach them to read english. It’s their national language actually and it is nice for them to learn.

They asked us to send books because they don’t have any. And they wanted – if they could manage to get to school like we were helping them to – to have sort of something like an after-school club, to have like – a reading club. We said that we couldn’t afford to pay for a big box of books because of how much the post office people charge you for parcels – even to the poorest people in the world 😦  And I think that our government in England could change this, if they really wanted to. WHAT CAN WE DO TO CHANGE THIS? IT MAKES ME REALLY LIVID!!!! (4 exclamation marks this time, please.)

So instead, we said that we would send them some comics instead. And this will be brilliant because we can send a lot. It’s still expensive but not anything as stupidly expensive as a big parcel. BUT this will entertain them even more than proper books, I think!

Comics are so important to our family because they helped me to read. I used to detest reading. But now, when a book is put in front of me – I can pick it up and read it. Only – I repeat – only IF IT’S INTERESTING! Also my mum, when she was my age, loved comics more than anything. Here are two photos of her reading a comic. Haha look at her glasses and that bum! No wonder she never goes out of the house without make-up on! And she still never stops reading now!

Look at that bum!

She couldn’t read without her glasses! (she still can’t!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And here also is proof that even Grandma is made to read The Beano. Hahaha! (evil laugh.)

Grandma enjoying The Beano (in her wildest dreams/ nightmares.)

Grandma enjoying The Beano (in her wildest dreams/ nightmares.)

The kids at my school and my brother’s school where we live in west Yorkshire are now collecting their comics for all of this. Can I just say an overwhelming THANK YOU to all our school friends and parents and those very very special other ones who helped us and whose names I will not say because you might slap me. You know what? You made their lives so much better and I bet you don’t believe that. But really – be proud of yourselves because you really did put a big smile on their faces. I wish you could have seen it for yourselves.

I’m finishing with a Hello and a Thank You from them all to you.

And just to add a bit of comedy to it all, this is where we left my brother.  It has been very peaceful without him!!!!!!!!!! (10 exclamation marks, please.)

Love, The Mini Funnylass xx ”

My brother and his new house. I do hope that he is alright there ... (not!)

My brother and his new house. I do hope that he is alright there … (not!)

 

 

 

 

 

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Simon Says?

6 Jun

Part 5

Simon

Simon

Simon didn’t say much. He didn’t have the energy to. Simon (pronounced ‘Sih-mon’ in Afrikaans) is 10 years old but weighs much less than my own 6 year old boy. Who is hardly a big lad himself.

Simon is malnourished. Along with his sister, he is an orphan and sleeps wherever he can find a warm corner in someone else’s shack.

As a small person who has no-one to keep an eye out for him, Simon has several options in life. He could walk the long road to town in Gobabis (not much fun when you are nearly-starving) and there try and beg for a few pennies off people. Or rummage through the dustbins. Or he could stay in Epako during the day and hope that someone, somewhere might find a bit of maizemail (savoury cereal porrige) to eat and perhaps he might also find somewhere safe and not too dirty to huddle down for the night.

Or he could go to school. Simon likes school. He tries to go as much as he can and has been accepted to a school within walking distance from Epako. Unlike many of the children, school is a big attraction for Simon because (our friends in Epako tell us) its the one place where he can be assured of getting something to eat.

San Bushmen children are some of the most disadvantaged and discriminated in the world. This little girl could only dream of a few items of school uniform and a blanket.

San Bushmen children are some of the most disadvantaged and discriminated in the world. Apologies for the cliche, but this little lass could only dream of a few items of school uniform and a blanket.

But as mentioned in yesterday’s blog – if you don’t have the equipment to attend school – it is almost impossible to go. School uniform is not mandatory (no-one would kick you out of school for not having the clothes) but some of the schools frown upon a child who doesn’t have the uniform. And anyway, would you want to be the only child who doesn’t have the dress or the shirt? (Shoes you can manage without of course … but just to have the one item of school uniform! This is all these kids are asking …)

Schools in Namibia (and in most African countries) also charge a school fee. Again – this isn’t mandatory – but some schools can make it difficult for children to attend if their families don’t pay this fee. Our previous work in southern Africa, with the San Bushmen made it all too clear that the poorest families need advocates who can write a damned good letter for them and stand up for their rights for a fee to be waived.

But back to Simon. The first time that we saw him smile was when he got into the car with my partner. Simon liked the car journey to the shop! And when he got to the clothes store – he and 20 other kids trundled along behind my other half (“I feel like the flippin’ Pied Piper here!”) and then it was a matter of slow little smiles all round as the kids were measured for shoes and various bits and pieces of school uniform and realised what might be happening.

San bushmen women are tiny and my girl found it amusing to keep telling me "Mum! You're like a big clumsy giant in comparison!" (Cheers, love)

San bushmen women are tiny and my girl found it amusing to keep telling me “Mum! You’re like a big clumsy giant in comparison!” (Cheers, love)

Simon was lifted up and perched next to the cash register so he could watch all of the events unfolding around him. It must have been a strange sight for him. The children from Epako were all waiting patiently in line, some of them already clutching their carrier bags filled with their new clothes. They looked sort of shell-shocked. The shop assistants who had seemed so astonished to see them all when they first marched into the shop was grinning now and talking to Simon, asking him questions about himself.  The funny little white girl was rushing about, dragging baskets of clothes and shoes with her father. The crazy white woman seemed to keep losing track of where the little white boy was (“Oh don’t worry – he’s outside doing somersaults with the other kids.”)

But don’t worry folks, I found him! Sure enough, there was my son. Bonding with his new mates thanks to all things boys and yukky (see video clip ‘Bleeugh! Look at my used plaster!’) and whilst my enormous credit card purchase thankfully wasn’t declined by my marvellous credit card company, we took a few minutes to get our breath back and to capture some of the smiles of children with their new items.

One of our helpers got a little bit shy! More smiles from the children

One of our helpers got a little bit shy! More smiles from the children

Double and Triple Phew!

MORE TOMORROW …

 

 

 

 

 

Charity *did* begin at home …

2 Jun

DOES CHARITY MATTER?   (Part 1)

Should we care about the way we talk to each other as adults – and to our children – when it comes to the subject of ‘charity’ and ‘giving’? When our schools send requests for a few quid so that our kid can dress up as a certain bear/sport a nose/wear pink/design a motif … should we simply dismiss the marketing money and power of these massive, national charities?

Or should we invest our donation pennies in the local charities down our streets? Those hospices, campaigns, the day care for elderly centres, the appeal for church spires and the struggling pre-schools … who may have fed, housed, saved, educated and employed people whom we actually know?

Or perhaps we might feel that the ‘on my doorstep’ connection is a little bit too obvious. That far more than enough people already give locally – and that the smaller, more imaginative charities in our country and overseas – desperately need our attention?

The purpose of this series of blogs over the next few days is NOT to make anyone feel bad about whether they do or do not ‘give.’ And if they do give – who and how and where – they should be donating to. Rather, these blogs – and the story that I will be telling  – aims to be a bit more educational. And with that in mind – a lot of the blogging will be from the perspective of the children involved (because otherwise – my daughter’s school teachers will be out to get me!)

Ingredients:  Tell a 6 and a 9 year old that they will be travelling to Namibia, southern Africa in order to try and help some of the most impoverished children in the world. Throw in the support of 2 wonderful west Yorkshire schools, parents and a few lovely friends and over the next few days you can see what the recipe produced…

WATCH THIS SPACE!

 

Yes, our pesky kids might be far too obsessed with having fun and acting the fool, rather than focussing on the SERIOUS things in life. But when push comes to shove, the wee varmints have a lot to teach us … (PHOTO: TWO TIDDLERS IN THE FORMER TOWNSHIPS…)