Zero Hunger

The UN have set 17 challenges that are everybody’s goal, they are things that impact on the way we live, like zero hunger. We have decided to take up one of the challenges and improve Madrid. We are hoping people from around the world will see what we are doing and will try to spread the word so that all homeless people and people in poverty will be able to eat some food. By the end of 2030 these goals are hoping to be reduced by at least 50%. Will you take up this challenge with us?

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We are doing this to help homeless people that can’t afford food, so many people are struggling because they don’t have anything to eat . Now that we are in this pandemic of the corona-virus, people are struggling more and more with financial problems. We are also trying to help by using paper bags and recyclable materials instead of plastic.

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How much time will it take?

We think that it will take approximately a week to do this, since 2 days will be enough to prepare the food and things, and the other 3 left over days, the school council and some teachers will be able to talk to the homeless and comfort them and hand them the food.

We will need:

Baking paper to cover the food

Buns, cheese, ham and butter for the sandwich.

And fruit for a small desert.

THIS IS EVERYONE’S GOAL, SO HELP US ACHIEVE IT!

Zoe – Year 5

 

Nyumbani

This year we are living a very different reality.

Kenya has been in partial lock down since March and everyone has had to adapt to a new way of living, just like in Spain. Schools are closed but the children are still being taught. The curriculum is available on a TV channel and there are also lessons on the radio. Not everyone in Kenya has access to the internet but some teachers are sending in materials which can be downloaded. This is really useful especially for the Nyumbani children who can enjoy benefiting from extra input. All the subjects are covered, maths, science, English, Kiswahili, social studies, etc. so not too different to Spain!

The children in Nyumbani Home in Karen are all well and safe. They have been extra careful with washing their hands and using sanitisers as well being equipped with masks and gloves. None of the members of the Nyumbani family have suffered from Covid-19 and we are very grateful to all the staff who are working tirelessly to ensure the good health of everyone involved in the programme!  No visitors from the outside have been allowed to come since the start of lock down.

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Each cottage in Nyumbani Home has children of various different ages, just like any normal family. Each cottage has around 14 children so that’s a large family!
As always the children get up early (6 am!) in order to take their medicines and have breakfast before classes start at 8 am. They then tune into the Educational Channel on TV. The children are divided into groups depending on their grade. Classes carry on until 5 p.m with some breaks and time for lunch too. There is a large open space with grass and trees where the children can run about and play safely. No visitors from the outside are allowed to come so there is very little chance of infection.nyumbani2

Last week the cottages were involved in an art project and made some posters which they displayed on their front doors. They are all hoping that the virus will take note and stay away!

 

 

 

Nyumbani, beyond the Home in Karen.

Many people have lost their jobs as a result of the virus and so a huge number of our Lea Toto families are now living below the poverty line, unable even to access basic food. You may remember some of the lovely crafts which are available for sale in the school at events such as the Mighty Merienda. These crafts are made by our Nyumbani Lea Toto families living in the informal settlements around Nairobi. Now they have nobody to buy their goods.

Nyumbani Village is also in lock down and so the grandmothers who were relying on the sale of their baskets for an income are suddenly left with no customers. The needs of all the families grow daily.

nyumbani3We have had some very welcome donations which have slightly eased the immediate need for food, but as this crisis continues, so also the need becomes greater and the families more desperate. A recent report really brought home the reality of the crisis. A woman told of how she put stones in a pot to boil in the hopes that her children would tire and fall asleep before they realised that the anticipation of food would come to nothing. These are truly tragic times.

Nyumbani4As well as Covid-19, Kenya is also dealing with other emergencies.  A swarm of locusts are destroying the crops while floods are rendering many families homeless.
Despite all the devastation, we are working with great determination to ensure that all our people are staying safe, accessing their medicines and basic foods. We are grateful for any donations, particularly in these times when the needs are global.

Thank you! ASANTE SANA!

Izabella Hearn

Amigos de Nyumbani

Nyumbani UK; Sponsor a Child in Kenya

USA LINK

An Around the World Challenge

It has been a challenging and unusual few months, but the Student Council in my school have continued to meet weekly to share feedback and to work on new virtual projects that enhance the spirit of adventure and collaboration.  A challenge has been planned to replace the annual Summer Fair and to raise much needed funds for the four school charities. The challenge draws on the promotion of physical exercise and also community togetherness to reach a goal, at the same time raising funds for the charities.

Aim: To complete one full lap around the world as a school community (approx. 40,000 kms)

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The student committee has encouraged everyone to extend their physical exercise routines and to go above and beyond. This does not mean the usual walk to the shops, or a typical stroll around the block. They are encouraging you to do that bit extra, not only for yourselves but also for charity! This can include any form of exercise: running, walking, skating, swimming, climbing, skipping, rolling, cycling… as long as you have challenged yourself, covered a certain distance and recorded it. The students then ask you to submit your distance (honestly and truthfully) whenever you have completed it, this could be daily or weekly, it doesn’t matter. The website has been specially designed for this challenge by the students so that everyone can input their totals, make a donation, and monitor the collective progress around the world.  The website also includes information about the four school charities. 

The students would like to encourage everyone to be as honest as possible, and therefore recommend that one of the following apps, or similar, are used to record your distances when exercising specifically for the challenge:

  • Nike + Run App/Club 
  • Endomondo 
  • Runtastic
  • Runkeeper 
  • MapMyRun (Underarmour)
  • Strava
  • Cyclemetre 

SanPedroKomoot

Try and beat your distance each time and set yourself some personal targets.  Maybe even link these targets to a monetary amount that you (or more likely your parents!) will agree to donate if you achieve them. The important thing is to enjoy your exercise though and to be safe, always inform an adult of what you are doing and where you intend to go if you are exercising alone.

To donate is easy and very important. Ideally we want to raise as much funds as we do during a typical Summer Fair, so please do support this challenge and share our website with family and friends. They can take part too! There is a link to our GoFundMe page on the website, and here you can make your donation; once, twice, as many times as you like! A few ideas could be:

  • Set personal targets linked to monetary values for individual family members
  • Set a collective target as a family or group of friends over the two week period and allocate a monetary value to donate
  • Maybe donate an amount every 5,000kms achieved by the collective community
  • Maybe donate an amount on completion of the whole distance, around the world
  • Or do all of the above… it is really up to you – every little bit helps!

bomberasayudan

The total funds raised at the end of the challenge will be divided equally into four and donated to the four school charities listed below :

Porque Viven, ANAR, Nyumbani and Bomberos Ayudan

The students very much look forward to hearing about and seeing the journeys around the world, and thank you all in advance for your enthusiasm, support and kind donations.

nyumbani

Giving nature a home

A bug hotel

A bug hotel

Today me and jonah loot at sum bugs to put in ar log piyul mowstlee we loot undneef the bricks becus we fort that los of bugs will liv udneef thum for sayfdee so we lift thoom up but befor we evun think abat  it so I said we need a buckit in cays there ar poysun bugs so we got a buckit naw we can get sum bugs in ar buckis then we went to find some bugs I fawd some bugs so put thum in the howtel I will  thas wot I said naw jonah has fa wd some jonah  said Im gowing to put it in the howtel.

WP_20150708_006Today me and Jonah looked at some bugs to put in our log pile.  Mostly we looked underneath the bricks because we thought that lots of bugs will live underneath them for safety.  So we lifted them up but before we even thought about it so i said we need a bucket in case there are poisonous bugs so we got a bucket.  

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Now we can get some bugs in our buckets.  Then we went to find some bugs.  I found some bugs so put them in the (bug) hotel I will.  That’s what I said.  Now Jonah has found some. Jonahs said I’m going to put it in the hotel.

 

Giving Nature a Home: @natures_voice  www.rspb.org.uk

 

Getting to know the tax man

There have been many positives to coming back to my home land and re-introducing myself to the British idiosyncrasies that I had forgotten about.  Believe it or not I find it, literally, refreshing being able to walk home from work every evening with my eldest son Jonah – as we both get excited as the evenings gradually get lighter, although the Irish Sea wind does not get any warmer!  On the flip side though there has been a few aspects of British living that I did not fully comprehend and had never really acquainted myself with, even before I left these shores back in the late 90s.  One of these slight annoyances is the fact that I seem to be spending a lot of my time on the phone trying to pay bills or to set-up direct debits – it is definitely a world of monthly transaction out there – monthly wage in to be slowly eroded by a string of outgoing payments to just survive British routine.  In a perverse kind of way, this is one of the reasons we came back to learn and experience a ‘normal’ life, how to account for and budget for family living.  I never expected to be on the phone so much though, and finding it so hard to get answers to questions.

Challenged with a sense of personal adventure

Challenged with a sense of personal adventure

There is a vast amount of information on the internet but that doesn’t always make life easier or getting things done straight forward. These are just a few of my observations, but I do get the general feeling that large companies and organisations want to make processing information and helping the general public as difficult as possible – why are they so averse to speaking with people on the phone or doing e-mails, how many people do they (or not) employ in their call offices?  Why can’t you just e-mail someone and get a straight forward answer and piece of advice?  Everybody is different and everybody has a different background and circumstance, whether it be; cultural, social, financial, personal and even educational.  Surely these service companies should be providing the best possible customer service to ensure there is no ambiguity or areas of vagueness… a cause of concern or doubt (legally or financially) can really loom over someones head for weeks on end until it has been sorted out.

Being reflective

Being reflective

We all have an impression of the ‘tax man’ in our minds, the perceived baddie of the financial accountability world.  Tax is something you can’t avoid and nobody should.  I believe in taxation and I am proud to be living in a democratic country that has a safe and reliable infrastructure that my family and I can take advantage of on a regular basis. That much makes sense and I have no quibbles over my tax rates and outgoings from my monthly wage. What I do have an issue with is that it is a complete minefield out there and you could spend your entire time trying to negotiate the abyss of the tax world just to make sure you are doing things right and can sleep at night.  This is a perfect example of lack of advice or guidance and keeping things simple, and I am (supposedly) an educated, native English speaker, think what others must be going through.  The website is like a maze of dead-ends and loops that bring you right back to where you started – just give me an e-mail address to get a straight forward answer!  No, you have to ring a certain number at a certain time, listen to a monologue of automated options and make a pot luck guess at which one to choose before being put on hold for half a day!  This is obviously an exaggeration, but it is claimed that average waiting times are around 11 minutes, but this is a lottery and you do actually have to dedicate at least half a day to get this done and hope that your questions are answered, which they are often not and you are then advised to phone someone else, with a different job title at another time.  In fact last week, I was told I needed a technician to answer a certain question and that they would phone me back within 7 days at a time that suited me – I said after 6.00pm would be great.  Walking home from work later that week I checked my answer phone messages and there it was a polite but brief message from the technician saying that they had called me back but I did not answer – that would be because it was midday when they phoned and I was fully engaged in my work, back to square one!

What can you do though?  They have you right where they want you, a captured market. You either have to persist with deadlines looming, the dreaded 31st January – it is like the ‘Day of Judgement’, or pay someone to do your tax forms and write off a substantial amount of well-earned income.  It can be quite depressing and distracts you from your work commitments and home life as I said before – it looms over you.  That is until you get through to Colette.  After negotiating the automated responses and listening to Greensleeves again on loud speaker phone whilst replying to some e-mails for however many minutes I am put on hold and trying not to waste the time, suddenly Colette’s angelic voice like a miracle reaches out to me and says, “Hello, my name is Colette, how can I help you today?”  There is a sudden mass release of frustration as I connect with Collete and say, “Am I glad to hear from you Colette, please don’t go any where – promise (?), I really need your help, this tax business is like a minefield.”  I hear Colette giggle down the phone as she becomes even more human and normal as I picture her helpful persona and sympathetic smile on the other end of the phone.  “Don’t worry Mr. Crouch, tell me what I can help you with and I will talk you through it, are you logged onto your computer?”  “Yes, yes I am Colette, are you really going to help me step-by-step, are you sure you have got the time(?), please don’t go anywhere!”  “It really won’t take that long Mr. Crouch, I am not going anywhere, are you ready?”

Community partnerships

Community partnerships

For the next 20 – 25 minutes Colette guided me and reassured me as I over-dramatically (not wanting her to disappear) plugged in what I needed to submit.  She was just herself and very personable but most of all she laughed and was supportive of the difficulties this process may create for some people.  She didn’t rush the conversation or sound frustrated at all, no mention of referring back to the website.  I don’t know if the time and guidance Colette dedicated to me was above and beyond her job description, I don’t know if this is profitable for her organisation to commit that amount of time per individual call, I don’t know if others had to wait even longer as Colette was dealing with me.  What I do know though is that in 2 months of trying to get this done she was the only person to actually take the time to engage with me and treat me as a normal person who just wants to do the right thing.  I hope they did record our conversation for training purposes and use Colette as a shining example at their next training day (picture that!), I would also like to put forward Colette for employee of the month and give her a pay rise for going above and beyond – which is surely what working in the service industry is all about.  If not then I would like to put Colette forward for Global Citizen of the week, thank you Colette.

A Christmas Gift

waiting

waiting

A picture tells a thousand words.

It is never easy being away from loved ones, especially when unexpected and for reasons that seem unfair.  It makes you think how many thousands and probably millions of families will not be together around the world this Christmas.  Some possibly never reunited again for reasons out of their control.

airport hugs

airport hugs

One of my colleagues took an assembly yesterday and reminisced about his outlook on Christmas as a young man (many) years ago.  It was a touching story that was based around the fact his father for 12 years always invited an elderly, widowed neighbour around for Christmas Day.  He and his brother resented this as they always missed out on watching the Christmas movie they had looked forward to for weeks since scanning through the Radio Times delivered at the start of December – the example given on this occasion being the Star Wars movie: The Empire Strikes Back.  When this elderly lady died their father was left a letter in her will acknowledging the kindness and importance of that one day of each year to her. For 12 years – the thing she had most looked forward to was being with his wife and children and spending time with them on Christmas Day.  My colleague concluded his assembly by telling our Year 7, 8 and 9 students that that message had totally changed his outlook on Christmas and what a real gift should be all about at this time of the year.

 

The Season of Giving

Contributed by Brittany Tang

Christmas post

Here in Michigan, the winter months seem to set a much needed peaceful atmosphere in the hustle and bustle of exams. As the snow falls gently from the sky and accumulates on the ground, sparkling ever so slightly, a quietness blankets the city of Ann Arbor. Students study in the warmth of the residential halls and cozy up next to soft velvet blankets, sipping hot beverages as they work hard to make their mark on the world. I’ve met some very inspiring individuals who are motivated to constantly do their part to benefit others. They lead organizations that help the impoverished, raise money for better education/health systems overseas and work hard to share with others their philosophies of kindness and global citizenship.

As Christmas approaches, I think of those who aren’t so fortunate to have a warm place to sleep during the bitterly cold and windy evenings. I also think of the children and adults who have limited access to medical and educational resources whose Christmases are consumed with worry and distress. In my local community, these people are the homeless. They roam the streets during the summer, spring and fall seasons and desperately seek shelter during the winter. I do my best to help these individuals by volunteering in the Food Gatherer’s kitchen in the basement of the homeless shelter. We make hot soups, pastas, and steam vegetables. There is always coffee, juice and water as well as fruit and dessert and all of the food that is used to make the meals is donated by local grocery stores and educational institutions. It is so heartwarming to see volunteers filling the kitchen with smiles, enthusiasm, excitement and the hope that they can help make a homeless person experience a few moments of joy by eating a delicious meal.

Is it about giving or receiving?

Is it about giving or receiving?

The giving doesn’t stop there. It’s wonderful! In my residential hall, students are collecting donated hats, gloves, mittens and scarves in an event called the “giving tree” with the hopes of sending these donations to Safe House. This organization provides support for individuals who have been impacted by domestic violence and/or sexual assault. We are also holding a knitting session one evening to make our own winter attire to donate.

The holiday mood has engulfed my dorm. The halls are decorated with paper snowflakes and the doors are covered in Christmas wrapping paper. Despite the small stresses of university, joy is in the air and the desire to help others is prominent and it is a beautiful sight!

To read other posts by Brittany please click here.

Project Nepal – a personal service learning initiative

Post contributed by Manoj Chapagain

Service Learning

Service Learning

Whilst I was at secondary school in Thailand I always wanted to do something that would help my village community in Nepal. During my last year of my high school, I asked some of my friends and teachers to help me raise money to buy computers for my village school where I studied during my childhood. We called this project “Project Nepal.”  This started August of 2013.

 

Joyce centre, Manoj far right

Joyce centre, Manoj far right

My friend Joyce and some other friends encouraged me and were willing to support me fully. We started doing fund raising events such as a dodge ball tournament, a computer game tournament and many other events at the school. In addition my friend Joyce who helped me enormously to raise money by asking her friends back in Taiwan to donate money to the project. She has contributed the most to this project.  All together we raised $3400. Furthermore, Mr. Alex (a friend of Peter Dalglish’s in Bangkok and my friend too) contributed approximately $500 to the project, totaling up to 364250 NPR.

The Project Nepal team

The Project Nepal team

The school already had a room that needed painting, carpeting, a fan and many other things.  When I got back to Nepal in the summer I went to the village and started overseeing this. Now the room has 7 computers from Project Nepal and another five computers which were donated to the school by a cement factory. The installation for internet is still in the process.

P Nepal7

Five students and two teachers visited the school for a week to see the school and set up the computer lab. They stayed in my village in my home for two nights and it was amazing to see my friends in my village and for them to experience a little bit of the village life. Everyday we used to walk to the school where my friends played games, interact and teach English to the school kids.

P Nepal

It was fantastic for me to see students from my school interacting with kids in my village. It felt great because I was part of the village school during my childhood and then I also became a part of my new school’s family. It almost felt like joining two families together.

 

P Nepal1

This is the first Project Nepal “PROJECT” and it was successful. I was really pleased with our work and of course the credit goes to everyone. When I go back to Nepal I will check how much progress they have made and if any change has come to the school for the students.  I also hope to do many other projects in Nepal with and for the Nepalese people.

To read more posts about Manoj please click here.

One Man and a Piano

Expressing the artist in you

Expressing the artist in you

I was at the airport again today and had the pleasure to listen to a young man playing one of those ‘play me’ pianos in the public waiting area.  We had sat down to eat our packed lunch and placed ourselves next to the piano and talented pianist to enjoy the music whilst we ate.

Play me

Play me

Zoe immediately took her sandwich over to the piano and had a good look at what the man was doing.  She even started to move to the hypnotic tones of the jazz tunes being played.  I watched and wondered who first thought of this idea of placing pianos in public places for anyone to play?  The more I thought about it the more I loved the concept and continued watching to see what impact our pianist would have on other strangers in the waiting hall.

 

An American admirer

An American admirer

As I watched and also monitored Zoe, making sure that her busy fingers didn’t add any unwanted notes to a potential masterpiece, an American lady sidled up to the pianist and introduced herself.  She was quite animated and confident in her approach, immediately acknowledging the skills and passion of our pianist.  They struck up a common theme and chatted for a while, name cards were even swapped.  Meanwhile my oldest son had joined Zoe and the two of them had commandeered the piano as the two strangers were making plans.  I continued watching them talk at the same time cringing at the dreadful din being bashed out on the piano by Zoe and Jonah thinking I must intervene soon and save everyone from the terrible noise. Luckily the American lady suddenly shot off and the pianist re-focused his attention on the piano and set about on my two.

Twinkle Twinkle number

Twinkle Twinkle number

He asked them if they could play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and to my surprise Jonah started to play the favourite nursery rhyme. The pianist motioned Jonah to play a few octaves higher and then started to accompany him with a funky jazz bass version.  Suddenly my son was playing a Twinkle Twinkle duet with a random stranger and making heads turn in one of the busiest airport terminals in the world.

Patrick and a piano

Patrick and a piano

Isn’t it amazing how music and artistic expression and enthusiasm connects people. We only planned to be in the airport for a short while and never imagined meeting someone like Patrick – how do you plan for something like that – you don’t (but always look out for the opportunities).  I asked Patrick where he was going and what time his flight was.  He told me he wasn’t going anywhere, so I asked him if he was on his work break and if he did this everyday when he had the chance.  He said no, and that he had just seen his Japanese friend off and decided to hang around and the play piano for a couple hours.  We said a big thank you and good bye to Patrick and wished him all the best with his future plans (he is starting a film business).  We walked out of Heathrow Airport for the second time in one week but this time refreshed from the positiveness of personal connectivity and social interaction and privileged that we had met Patrick, the piano player.

The Rice Challenge – An American Perspective

Contributed by Sara Menges

Proactive and Innovative

Proactive and Innovative

Thank you Paul Crouch for nominating me to do the rice challenge! And thank you to Robyn Fox for this wonderful idea of donating rice to raise awareness for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) in place of the ice bucket challenge. Since water is such a precious commodity and Los Angeles is facing a drought right now, I was especially pleased to be able to contribute to the ALS movement in this way.

With the Thanksgiving holidays coming up, I decided to donate my bag of rice to the Union Station Homeless Services (Union Station) organization. Committed to ending homelessness in the community, Union Station helps homeless men, women, and children rebuild their lives. Every year they also host a Thanksgiving Dinner-in-the-Park community event that provides holiday meals for homeless individuals, seniors, very low-income families, and those with no place to go during the holidays.

2013 Thanksgiving Dinner-in-the-Park Credit: SOSA PHOTO, www.pasadenanow.com

2013 Thanksgiving Dinner-in-the-Park
Credit: SOSA PHOTO, http://www.pasadenanow.com

I decided to call and ask if a big bag of rice would be useful for their kitchen staff and in preparing for the festivities. The response was very positive! The lady I chatted with on the phone loved the rice challenge idea and thanked me for thinking of Union Station. With this go ahead, I loaded my 50 pound bag of rice into a suitcase and rolled on down to the Adult Center I was advised to drop it off at. The staff at the center looked a little confused at first but laughter and smiles quickly proceeded after I explained the challenge.

Donating my bag of rice!

Donating my bag of rice!

This challenge was a joy to complete for the impact it would have on the center and for the impact it had on me. It never ceases to amaze me how therapeutic a random act of kindness can be. For the rest of the day, after the donation, I felt like I was walking on air! I also noticed a significant shift in the conversation I was having with my friend who accompanied me. Rather than listing all the problems he had to deal with that week, he was instead talking about the different things he could implement to tackle them more easily. It’s as if the whole experience allowed us both to reduce the stress levels in our body and flood it with more positivity instead. I guess Booker T. Washington had a point when he said “If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.”

To spread the message and joy that comes with this challenge, I am now nominating Cassie Pais, Elizabeth Williams, and Marissa Merrill. How will you donate your rice? Who will you choose to uplift? Can’t wait to see!