Hearts and Glitter

I am going to be making a big deal about Action Aid and child sponsorship this month.  Don’t worry, I’m not going to start preaching (which a blog I usually love started to do the other week and has lost my interest).  So, no preaching.  No ‘I’m so wonderful’ or ‘You must do this’.  No, this is where I am going to post the letters I send to the child I sponsor, Gift, in Malawi and the letters and drawings which I receive back.

Now, letter writing isn’t my strong point.  Years back I used to write to my grandparents every month and now I write to my grandfather every couple of months but they are typed in large font (he can’t read my scribble anymore!) and are pretty basic.

Writing to a ten year old is completely new.  I don’t even know a ten year old.  But this is not a ten year old who can relate to things that a ten year old would know about in the UK like Justin Beiber and FaceBook.

I aim to write every month and the other week I received a beautiful drawing from Gift but which highlighted that whilst she might be ten, her education is not as high as that of a ten year old here, and in fact I need to tailor my letters to maybe a six year old.

I am aiming now for simple letters which are pretty and fun.  I think I will be moving more towards cards rather than my two page letter which no doubt leaves her (and the Action Aid workers) very, very confused!

So, Valentines Day is coming up and I stood in front of all those red and pink cards with declarations of love.  Urgh!  I so need a boyfriend or lover who might send me cards and flowers.  But anyway, a card possibly without a declaration of anything, but something fun.  I think I found a good one.

Now sending gifts is highly discouraged but I hear rumour that some sponsors do send little presents and these heart stickers from Paperchase seemed ideal (and I purchased 64 of them so that her friends can have them too).

Letter writing is still hard.  I kept this letter pretty simple.  I have plans for an Easter card and another fun project too.  Details next month, and the month after that, and the month after that too.

 

~ Pru

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The Post That Haunted Me

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.

I’m putting up a link to Action Aid here.  I’m no expert but if you ever think about sponsoring a child and want some advice from someone that does, then please contact me.

~ Pru

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Action Aid’s Bloggers Tea Party

Do you remember in November when I wrote about how I am sponsoring a little girl in Malawi called Gift through Action Aid?  I write once a month to Gift and love everything about sponsoring her.  I keep a photo of her next to my desk at work and think about her very often, wondering what she is up to and how she is getting on at school and what life must be like in a country that until a little while ago I knew very little about.

There are so many ways to help charities, and one of those is by highlighting a charity and their cause by word of mouth, or on Twitter, Facebook or on your own blog.  I was so pleased to read on Twitter that Action Aid are holding a Bloggers Tea Party to get to know bloggers (who sponsor though Action Aid and those that don’t) and to highlight the work that Action Aid do and how we can help.

So, what are you doing on the 19th January?  I am now taking a day off from work, I plan a little shopping and maybe an early lunch before heading into a part of London that I’ve never been to before.  If you spot me with a map in one hand and a puzzled look on my face, please point me in the right direction!

Here are the details:

WHEN: 19 January 2012, from 1pm

WHERE: ActionAid London office, London EC1.

If you want to attend, space is obviously limited, register here. There’s also a small crèche facility, subject to numbers.

Action Aid will get back to you to confirm your place, in the meantime any questions tweet @ActionAidUK or connection via facebook.com/actionaiduk. You can also email at bloggers@actionaid.org.

Hope to see you there.

~ Pru

 

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Letters to Gift

I started sponsoring a child in June of this year.  Her name is Gift and she lives in Malawi.  It feels sort of strange to write it down.  I haven’t spoken about it before.  Part of me feels slightly guilty at publishing it, almost like I am saying ‘look how wonderful I am’.  Its not my intention or my thought.  I did it because I can afford to do it and I wanted to do it.  And it does feel really good.

Every month £15 leaves my bank account and travels into the Action Aid fund to provide help to my sponsored child’s community.  It’s the cost of a week’s worth of Starbucks.

I wanted to publicise Action Aid and the work that they did and I also wanted to have a place to write down what I write to Gift my sponsored child.  When I first started I Googled ‘sponsored child writing letters’ and the results were pretty poor.  But one blog I found wrote on a monthly basis and she also wrote about school and things that her family were getting up to.

Sometimes, its hard to know what to write about.  If I were to write about going shopping or going to dinner or on holiday will it seem like I was gloating?  Also, will she be able to understand some of the things that we take for granted?  And how do I write a letter to a nine year old girl who has probably never heard of half the things that I talk to friends nine year old children about (Justin Beiber and the latest games are not going to cut it!)

So, each month when I send my letter, I’m going to post it here for you to read.  If you sponsor a child maybe you might get some ideas from it or have some ideas for me (please share).

This month I sent Gift a postcard.

I sent postcards of Buckingham Palace and the royal family the other month with a tiny bit of history on them which I thought she and her friends might enjoy.  Its easier to write a letter one month and then send a card or a postcard another month.

Do you sponsor a child?  Do you write often?  Have you thought about sponsoring a child?  I would love to know your thoughts on the subject.

~ Pru

More details on Action Aid can be found here.