Child Sponsorship Week

I know that lots of you see this post through a reader and I urge you to read on and at least think about child sponsorship and how a little money can make a great difference.

~ Pru

Charity has been on my mind a lot over these past couple of weeks.  Richmond, the town where I live, is home to the Poppy Factory where hundreds of thousands of poppies are made each year to commemorate Remembrance Day and it seemed that wherever I went there were people selling poppies.

It’s easy to remember and think about something when it is right in front of you.  I admit freely that Myanmar hasn’t been at the front of my mind.

Since becoming a Blogger for Action Aid I try to stay more informed about the work that the charity is doing. ActionAid is asking people across the UK to celebrate Child Sponsorship Week and make a huge change to all the people who have endured decades of struggle and uncertainty in Burma/Myanmar and elsewhere in the developing world.

There are 1,600 children in Burma to sponsor but worldwide there are nearly 5,000 children that need sponsorship in 17 countries.

My decision to start sponsoring Gift in Malawi last year through Action Aid at first seemed like quite an undertaking.  £15 per month seemed like a lot of money and I was thinking of all the Starbucks I would be foresaking!  But the truth is, I spend money ridiculously.  £1 for an avocado the other day to top up a lunch that I had already purchased in M&S for £3.  That’s eight days of sponsoring Gift to give her the opportunity to go to school and be clothed and fed.

For just 50p a day sponsors have the opportunity to change a child’s and community’s future not just for today but forever. For information on how to get involved and transform a child’s life visit www.actionaid.org.uk/child.

I love sponsoring Gift.  I like thinking about a stranger in another country and what she is doing and her how family are and what she is learning at school.  I also like that I am in the privileged position to be able to help someone else have a better change at life.  And I reckon that most of the people reading this blog have the ability to sponsor.

What does 50p buy nowadays anyway?

~ Pru

Action Aid’s Blogging Event

I have taken a break from my blogging vacation to write about something that is very dear to my heart.  No, not the Olympics or food.  Much, much more important.  Action Aid and child sponsorship.  Ever since I started to sponsor Gift through Action Aid last year I have found that it has given me more purpose.  You know when you have a really rough day and just want to stay in bed and watch old episodes of The West Wing?  Those days are the days when I remember that I am contributing towards someone else’s life and not just my own.  Those days are the days when I look at the photo on my office wall of Gift and she strives me on.  I have more purpose now.

Last Friday sitting in the living room with mum and dad eating our buffet dinner and  glued to the TV we all remarked that we had not heard of some of the countries parading through the Olympic stadium.  I was pleased to see a map in the paper the next day pointing out some of the tiny countries sitting in the Carribbean that had escaped my attention.

Myanmar, formerly Burma, needs no introduction.  I think that everyone has heard of Aung San Suu Kyi and I am sure that we all nodded as the athletes waved to the audience on Friday recognising another country competing.  But when Action Aid asked what I knew about Myanmar I commented that I would have to do some Googling.  Truth is, I know very little, and sure, Google and Wikipedia will spout out the facts of how many live in the country and who there government is run by, but I don’t think that’s really what Action Aid were asking.  So, I’m holding my hands up.  I know nothing about the country apart from where it is situated (near to China and India).  That’s it.  And it sort of made me sad that I didn’t know that much about the country, or many other countries in the world.  I am so looking forward to finding out more on the 15th August.

Just as I knew nothing about Malawi when I started to sponsor Gift through Action Aid last year, I have learnt alot about that country, continually seeking to learn more.

Action Aid are holding a Bloggers Summer Party on the 15th August in Clerkenwell, London.  I attended the Bloggers Tea Party for Action Aid earlier this year and it was such a great time to meet with fellow bloggers, to learn more about Action Aid and to have a fun afternoon.  This time around they have Jimi Mistry of East is East fame talking about what child sponsorship means to him and the work of Action Aid.  To book a place today click hereGemma and Penny will be there doing a brainstorming blogging section which I think is going to be quite hilarious and good fun.  And of course I will be there too (what more could you want!)  It will be a great event to learn more about Action Aid and especially the work that they are doing in Myanmar.

~ Pru

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Writing to the child you sponsor

From Pinterest and Tara Adams’ board

Recently, a lot of searches have been about how to write to a sponsored child.

When I first started sponsoring I trawled the internet for ideas and found a few things, but not much.  The one thing that did stick out was that you should write.  Send a card or a postcard from your holiday or a letter.  But for goodness sake, send the child something so that when letters are delivered she has something to open.  An article I read detailed how two siblings were sponsored and one child received letters and the other didn’t.  The child who didn’t receive letters didn’t excel at school and felt as though they had done something wrong.

Disclaimer:  I am no expert.  I have learnt a few things along the way and I thought that I would share them with you:

Write regularly

I aim to write once a month.  I find it easier to carry on with my letters that way rather than starting afresh each time.

Look at the Calendar

January you can write about Christmas and New Year and your resolutions.

February is Valentines.

March or April will be Easter.

May and June the warmer weather has arrived and there are pretty flowers in the garden and in the park.

July and August are perfect for showing photos of any holidays.

October is Halloween

November if Guy Fawkes Night.

December is Christmas.

And round and round it goes.  Also, there are birthdays and outings which you go on.  These all add to any letter that you write.

Themes

For my February card I sent a Valentines card (with a big glittery heart) and some heart shaped stickers.

This past year I have sent postcards with the royal family and a little bit of history on them.

At Christmas I send a Christmas card.

A letter on plain white paper is great, but a letter on coloured paper or a pretty postcard or card is so much nicer.  Think about what you would rather receive.

Mix it up

I like to include photos (either an actual photograph) or a digital photo which I print out with my letters.  If I am writing about my favourite flowers in the garden I take a photo so that Gift knows what I am talking about.  I include photos of Violet my dog and of me and my family.

Also, I sometimes type my letter, sometimes its a card or postcard.  I write with a green pen (which smells of peppermint) one month, and then a pink pen (which smells of strawberries) the next.  I do different fonts of the computer and try to make sure that no two letters look the same.

Remember who you are writing to

In my case, I write to a ten year old girl.  I hadn’t realised at first, but her age is not representative of ten year old girls in the UK.  No Justin Beiber or Facebook and iphones.  Simple things, write as if you are writing to someone a few years younger than their actual age.

Is it boasting?  Will they understand?

I struggled with this at first.  If I showed a photo of my garden with pretty flowers was it going to suggest that I had a huge amount?  What if I showed photos of going out and eating ice cream?  Would she know what this was?

Stop.

Here’s the thing.  Don’t go writing about receiving hundreds of presents for Christmas or how every night the butler brings you cocoa in bed.  Write about Christmas and what you did and include a photo of the tree, just don’t show the huge pile of presents.  Don’t over-think these letters too much either.  You may have more material things than the child you write to, but there is nothing to say that their life isn’t richer than ours.

Simple letters with words about you and this will work well.

Gifts

Until recently I was never sure about sending a little present.  What I have learnt is that stickers are acceptable – I try to make them go with my theme and only send them every now and again.  For Valentines I sent 60 stickers with hearts to Gift.  In the letter I explained that she should share these with her friends and siblings.

With the Olympics around the corner I am putting together a pack all about London.  Paperchase had these great stickers on London and I will be putting those in with my letter.

Turns out that letter writing isn’t that hard.  It doesn’t have to be pages and pages, but something fun and creative is always going to be nice to receive.

I am sponsoring Gift through Action Aid.  Find out more details here.

Pru

International Womens Day

March 8th is International Women’s Day.

I’ve been banging on quite a lot about Action Aid recently, but I thought that today was the perfect day to show the photo which keeps me going all the time.  When times are a bit hard or I’m not too happy I look at this photo and it keeps me going.

This is Gift.  She is ten years old and the girl I sponsor in Malawi.  If it wasn’t for Action Aid I wouldn’t have known about International Womens Day today.  And without Action Aid I wouldn’t have something else to focus on.

To everyone who visits my blog, I hope you have a wonderful day today and take time to think about the people who inspire and love you.  Male and female.  Everyone.

Have a great day.

~ Pru

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