Did the title get your attention? Good. Do you feel my pain? Have you ever known that you need to do something but you just don’t know how? This is what this post was like for me. I was haunted by it. I put it on my blogging to-do list and my normal to-do list and my weekend to-do list, but each time, I never crossed it out. And it took me ages to write and then re-write as I didn’t want it to come across as ‘preachy’. I hate preachy. I stop listening when it becomes preachy.
But enough is enough. I’m even being chased by people for it.
The other week I took the day off from work, I had a well needed lie in and then applied my makeup properly – powder, blush, eyeliner, eyeshadow and mascara – and then I straightened my hair and got on the train to Waterloo. Turns out that I don’t read a tube map as well as I thought, and went the wrong way and then in the wrong direction before finally making it to Farringdon. I had aimed to arrive early and look around Farringdon but there was no time. Hot and flustered I arrived at Action Aid’s central office, but was quickly welcomed and offered tea and water and cake. Such gorgeous cake too, put some of my offerings to shame!
Now I knew some of the names of people attending, I had been part of a couple of Twitter conversations and that morning had been woken up by someone tweeting me, but I didn’t know them. And I admit that nerves got the better of me. I sat at the back and listened but didn’t interact that well with other bloggers instead I spoke at length with Debbie who works for Action Aid. She too sponsors a child and we had great fun swapping ideas and she was so kind to give me tips on what to write and more details on the charity.
The reason for taking the day off and attending the tea party was to learn more about Action Aid. Mark Watson the comedian spoke but he was well and truly trumped by Lynn and Spencer (and I was so pleased that he was), a couple who don’t blog but who do sponsor a 13 year old boy called Malafani in Lesotho. They had a wonderful slide show of photos that they took when they went out to Lesotho, and it was the small things from their chat which stuck with me. How they love the boy and his family and their village so much, how they had been amazed by the welcome that they received on their visit, but how things were very basic, with the school at the top of a hill and catering for 90 children ranging in age from 5 to 15 in one tiny room. The people in the village had very little but were being helped by Lynn and Spencer and other sponsors through Action Aid to make life better.
Whilst Lynn and Spencer (and I) have the name and photo of the child we sponsor, the money is put towards the community rather than to the individual child or their family. And Action Aid aren’t going into their village and deciding what the village needs. No. Action Aid speak with the community to find out what they need. A more personalised service if you like. Need the school moved from the top of the hill (where at times it is inaccessible and teachers won’t work there) to the bottom of the hill? Yes, Action Aid can help with that. Need a well? HIV & Aids awareness and assistance programmes? Action Aid can help with that too. In Malawi, the community needed a house built so that the community could retain a teacher to teach the children. Some of the time its basic stuff that we take for granted that others really require.
I left the tea party with lots of ideas and safe in the knowledge that for me, sponsoring is a very good idea. The money is helping the community where Gift lives and as far as I see it, any help to anyone who wants it can never be a bad thing.