Posts Tagged 'children'

LFS Introduces…Fran Brady & Love Ghana

Hello. Thanks to LFS for the chance to be a guest post. My real name is Frances Young but my penname is Fran Brady so that’s what I go by on Facebook. My maiden name (such a funny, old-fashioned expression that seems now) was Brady so I am really me by either name. A rose by any other.

I started writing fiction about four years ago. I’d always wanted to write (something a bit more imaginative than research reports, feasibility studies, staff appraisals and funding proposals, which I spent my professional life on) but it wasn’t until I reached the great age of retirement that I got the chance. Since then, after a few creative writing courses, I have been hooked.

To my own and everyone else’s astonishment, I have churned out millions of words resulting in one published and one unpublished novel and another one in first draft form at present. My published novel is The Ball Game and you can buy it on Amazon and in some bookshops.

Recently one of my daughters set up a new charity to raise money for mothers and children in Ghana. “What would I like to do for it?” she asked me. Dreading another sponsored walk – I love the walking but hate collecting the money – I decided to put together some of my short stories, fund the first print run and sell them at £5 each. The full £5 from each copy goes to the charity, which is Love Ghana


So Tales to Dip Into is now available from: franbbrady@aol.co.uk. Just email me that you want one (or more) and I will send you an order form.

Then relax, uncurl your toes and dip them into this little book… Meet a mad woman in the streets of Florence, a baby speaking from the womb and a nonagenarian going courting. Watch Facebook ‘friends’ at the Edinburgh Book Festival, go to garage sales in Toronto and attend the last performance of a stage legend. And much more! Fifteen funny, romantic, sad, dark and quirky tales – three of each.

Indulge yourself and support a wonderful cause at the same time.

Go on… You know you want to.

You can get a copy of Tales To Dip Into to support Love Ghana by e-mailing Fran (click here) Find out more about Fran Brady by heading over to her website www.franbrady.com. You can also find out more about Love Ghana on facebook or by heading over to their website.

Thank you Frances (aka Fran!) for sharing with us, I love your writing, and hope that the book raises lots of funds for Love Ghana!

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LFS Introduces…Carolyn & Anjali House in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Please introduce yourself…

I’m Carolyn;  I’m a 31-year-old Scottish girl who now lives in Cardiff, South Wales.

What is Anjali House?

To properly answer this, I need to explain a bit of Cambodian history and culture. I’ll try to be concise.

Between 1975 and 1979, under the regime of Pol Pot and the communist Khmer Rouge party, approximately 21% of the Cambodian population (an estimated 1.7 to 2.5 million people) were killed. Pol Pot’s vision was for an agriculture based communist utopia, and two of his methods of promoting & achieving this were to close schools (everyone was now to be a subsistence farmer, working to provide for Cambodia’s own needs so it would have no need for the Western world) and to kill anyone with any level of prior education (as they may have been a threat to the new ‘utopia’).

Cambodia as a country has been ‘reeling’ from this ever since. Although Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge are long gone, the legacy of their rule was a country in ruins – no economy, no infrastructure, and the huge problem of a pretty much uneducated and unskilled population. Either you were educated before the Pol Pot rule and were killed due to being educated, or you didn’t receive any education to begin with as you were a child during the regime as you worked in the fields instead of attending school and after the regime was over there was no infrastructure for schooling and no educated citizens to teach you.

Fast-forward 30 years…

Cambodia is a country that’s done a pretty good job of piecing itself back together. It’s still a very, VERY poor country. But it has an infrastructure of sorts. It has an economy of sorts. It has a stable government. It’s getting there. Corruption is rife. There are still live landmines all over the place. It’s not perfect. But in spite of all this, it’s getting there.

The education gap is still there though. It’s one of the things Cambodia can’t easily fix on its own. Another generation has passed, but they didn’t have anyone to teach them either. And so the cycle continues.

There are ‘public’ schools in Cambodia, but the fees (a few dollars a month) plus the need for a uniform and the lost earnings of the child make it an unobtainable dream for most Cambodian families.

And this is where NGO’s (Non Government Organisations) come into the picture, and where I finally get back to the original question…

What is Anjali House?

Anjali House (pronounced An-jah-lee) is an NGO in Siem Reap, Cambodia.  I was privileged to spend a month there in summer 2009 working as a volunteer English and General Studies teacher.

Anjali aims to provide support, education and healthcare provision to street kids who otherwise wouldn’t have access to these things.  In practice, this means…

  • The kids attend Anjali for half a day, and public school for the other half (Anjali pays their fees and provides them with a uniform).
  • Many of the health problems affecting Cambodian children are a result of poor diet and unsuitable drinking water. To attempt to counter this, the children at Anjali receive two healthy meals (breakfast and lunch) and a fruit snack each day, and have access to filtered drinking water throughout the day.
  • Due to the lack of clean water and the constraints of poverty, many of the children had never used soap or cleaned their teeth. They now bathe every morning at Anjali and are educated in the importance of personal hygiene.
  • All Anjali children have regular medical and dental health checks provided by the project. They will also be taken to hospital or the doctors if necessary.
  • As one of the conditions of attendance at Anjali, the child is no longer allowed to be sent out to work on the streets begging, selling trinkets etc. The families receive a weekly allowance of rice to compensate for the loss of income.

There are currently approximately 80 children at Anjali. Enrolment is by application (and based on social and economic testing). Due to lack funds and constraints of space, Anjali currently is not accepting any further applications at this time.

Tell us how you ended up going over to Cambodia to work with the team at Anjali?

The short answer is it felt like the right thing to do at the right time.

The longer answer is that I had recently resigned from a job I’d once loved after a prolonged chain of events (clash of personalities with one of my bosses, what I believe was an institutional bullying campaign, an unrealistically large work load, a nervous breakdown and a 5 month absence due to stress, a subsequent formal grievance process, and so on) None of it is particularly interesting reading. Suffice to say it wasn’t the best period in my life.

I had (and still have) an incredibly supportive partner in my boyfriend, Ian. He not only encouraged me to bite the bullet and resign, but told me to take as much time as I needed to recharge my batteries, get my head straight again, get over the lousy year I’d had and generally become myself again.

I realised that I’d been defining myself primarily by my job for a long time, and that I needed and wanted to change that.

I’d just posed the question ‘what next?’ when my friend Beth had returned from a month in Cambodia, having been placed at Grace House by a volunteer organisation called Globalteer. She’d come back on schedule purely to attend her own university graduation, and was planning on heading straight back out to Siem Reap. She told me I ought to come with her. I decided to roll with that.

Beth later decided that although she’d love to return straight away, it wasn’t to be. I applied anyway, thinking that it probably wouldn’t be possible. Less than a month later I was on a plane, having been placed at Anjali by Globalteer.

What are the most important things you learned from your time at Anjali?

I think I learned a lot, but it’s incredibly difficult to describe the experiences I had, words just don’t seem to do it justice. I can honestly say it was one of the best months of my life. (I STILL want to go back).

I learned that you don’t have to be perfect to be a volunteer. You just have to be enthusiastic. I’m a perfectionist, and as such, frequently worry that my best isn’t good enough.  It was, and you get lots of help and support from the staff and other volunteers at Globalteer.

I learned that there’s a place for all personality types in this sort of environment. I’m very much an introvert, and in the beginning found myself feeling inadequate due to the fact that I wasn’t an ‘all out’, loud, confident presence around the kids during non lesson times. Pretty soon I realised that not all of the kids were extroverts either, and the fact that I interacted with them in a different manner to some of the other volunteers didn’t actually matter.

I learned that there’s a peace that comes with just going with the flow and that somehow you’ll end up in the right place at the right time anyway – even if you didn’t see it coming.

I learned that I can’t solve everything for everyone, but that’s not a reason to stop trying to at least make a small difference. There’s an old Scottish saying that –  “Mony a mickle maks a muckle” (translation: lots of small things make up a large thing), and I realised that I need to stop worrying about the ‘Muckle’, and just get on with my ‘Mickle’.

How can we support Anjali?

There are lots of ways…

Volunteer over there. I promise, you will NOT regret it. You don’t need a month; however long you have is fine. And if I can do it, ANYONE can.

Raise awareness of Anjali, who & what they are and what they do. You’re welcome to use the information & pictures on my blog.

Make a donation/ host a fundraising event for Anjali. I’ve been there and can personally verify that every dollar is put to good use. If you’re a UK tax payer, you can gift aid your donation to make it worth and extra 28%.

Sponsor an Anjali child Please be aware though that Anjali don’t generally allow sponsors to visit the kids (Cambodia, unfortunately seems to be fast becoming the new Thailand in that respect, and that fact breaks my heart).

If people wanted to pray for you, what would you have them talk to God about on your behalf?

Prayer isn’t something I’ve figured out, so I’m not entirely sure how to answer that sincerely. I guess the best answer I can give is ‘however they feel led’.

Cambodia is a beautiful country with beautiful people, who lead hard, hard lives. I’d like to hope it’ll get better for them.

The kids at Anjali come from some pretty hopeless backgrounds, I’d like to think that they’ll have better futures than pasts.

I’d hope that their time at Anjali makes them feel loved and validated and allows them to have a childhood.

I’d like to hope that they won’t have to go to bed hungry again.

I’d like to hope that they grow up create a better world than the one they were born into.

Thank you so much for sharing about Anjali House with us Carolyn. We’re also really happy to announce that Carolyn will be returning to Cambodia and Anjali House this summer! You can find out more about Anjali House by going to www.anjali-house.com and follow more of Carolyn’s tales of Cambodia, plus life as a Scottish lass in Wales on her blog http://searchingforbrokenness.blogspot.com


LFS Introduces…Carl & Michelle Waldron & Seed of Hope Community Development

Please introduce yourselves and tell us about how you got inspired to work with Seed of Hope…


We are Carl and Michelle Waldron.  Carl is a Canadian boy, and I, Michelle, was born in the good ole’ US of A.  Our paths crossed when we both signed up to go overseas as short-term missionaries as a one-year break from university.  We met during training for that year and started a friendship that eventually turned into romance and we married in August 1998.  Our passion has always been for cross-cultural missions. Carl has a degree in International Development and I am a Registered Nurse. The text we chose as our life’s guiding statement was from the Psalms:

“May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us, that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations.”

Psalm 67: 1-2

Seed of Hope is a community centre in the middle of an underserved, under-resourced Zulu community.  Our centre offers many different classes and programs.  We have 3 after school programs for differing age levels.  We provide HIV testing and counseling, offer 3 HIV support groups, teach vocational skills (i.e. sewing) to women in the community, encourage gardening, promote healthy lifestyle choices, etc.  Carl is the CEO of this small organization and I work with another nurse to lead the medical side of the ministry.  We are in a daily battle against HIV/AIDS and the stigma that prevents so many people from reaching out and getting help.

How did you get involved with Seed of Hope?

We have always shared a joint love of and interest in missions.  But God did not open doors for us to go overseas until we met a South African man named Derek Liebenberg.  We attended a gathering at a friend’s home, where Derek shared how God led him and his wife, Heather, to begin a community centre in a small rural community ravaged by HIV/AIDS, near Durban. By the end of his slideshow, we were ready to jump on a plane and come to South Africa to work with them.  We gradually began that process, but unfortunately, he passed away from a sudden heart attack before we made the big move. Carl was asked to step into the CEO’s role. We finally arrived on African soil in June 2007 and have been working with Seed of Hope, ever since.

What is 2010 shaping up to look like for your work with Seed of Hope?

We are praying for an opportunity to buy or long-term lease the buildings we currently rent to do our ministry. This would allow our organization to expand and grow in ways that have been hindered until now.  We also have several new staff coming on board this year who will help us grow and reach even further into our community – and also bring leadership gifts to help fine tune the programs that already exist.

What is your favourite thing about the work you are doing?

Michelle – I LOVE being in the homes of the people in the township we serve.  Just today I was in the home of a mom we helped last year to get tested for HIV and then get onto anti-retroviral medication.  To see her healthy and actually being able to care for her children is so rewarding.  And as I sit there visiting with her, she says, “can I take you to see my neighbor?  She is now sick.”  Of course!  So she takes me next door and there is another single mom – losing the battle with AIDS…finally willing to reach out for help.

Carl – My role is more about looking ahead at how we meet the challenges of a growing number of child-headed households, the need for entrepreneurship and agricultural training, and developing leaders within our staff and the wider community who can come up with new ideas to face these issues. I also share the vision of what God’s doing in our community through Seed Of Hope, and invite others to join in and support our work in whatever way they’re able.

What is the most challenging thing about the work you are doing?

Seeing children being orphaned over and over again.  A lot of them are initially orphaned by their mom, who often succumbs first to HIV.  Then sometimes by their dad, and finally by their grandmothers, who usually end up caring for them, until they become too old or pass away. Along with that emotional strain is the challenge of relating across many different cultural, linguistic, economic and racial lines, all the cause of drawing each person involved a little closer together over time.

Who do you have supporting you? How do they support you?

Friends and family in Canada support us.  Our church in St. Albert, Alberta is the biggest supporter for us, financially, with prayer, and with love! We’ve also made friends from the UK, USA, Australia and many other places over the last few years.

Our website has links to various means of joining in with what we’re doing.

Do you partner with any other organisations?

Yes, we partner with many organizations.  Some local, like the Amanzimtoti Pregnancy Resource Centre, or Bobbi Bear, a local NGO that provides counseling for children who have suffered sexual assault and abuse.  Others include Durban-based Soul Action, local churches in Amanzimtoti such as Oasis Church and Amanzimtoti Methodist.  And we also partner with some international organizations.  Seed of Hope Canada and RESKU International in the United States are the main international partners.

What piece of advice would you give to anyone that is thinking about doing something similar to what you are doing?

Take the time and energy needed to get a good handle on the culture and language of the people you are serving. This will make your time more enjoyable, your impact more lasting, and your relationships deeper. Also, prepare well by learning as much as possible about where you’re going, visiting in advance, and cultivating a habit of being laid back, gracious and humble. Accepting that you have much to learn, being patient with delays and inadequate services, and being willing to accept tasks that help others achieve their goals even if they seem unrewarding to you at the time.

How can others engage with you and support you in the work you are doing with?

We welcome prayer support.  South Africa has a high rate of violent crime, so we love to hear when people are praying for us and for our staff at the Centre!  We are also in the process of buying the property and then doing some renovating to accommodate expanded programs/classes… so any financial support would be gladly received. We do have space for occasional volunteer placements, depending on skills and international experience. We’d love to hear from people interested.

If people would like to pray for you, what would you have them talk to God about on your behalf?

Pray that more people (particularly the men) will come for HIV testing, pray that the stigma will be reduced, pray for the massive orphan crisis that South Africa is facing. We would value prayer for the health and safety of our organization staff and volunteers, and for favour as we build relationships with local government, rural Zulu tribal and nearby city authorities in our region.

Thank you so much Carl & Michelle for sharing with us. I feel so blessed to have met you in person and to have spent time working with the Seed of Hope team, and have such fond memories of my short time there last summer. Hopefully by what you’ve shared people may understand why many of us are missing everyone there so much!

For more information on Seed of Hope Community Development, check out their website www.theseedofhope.org . You can also follow Carl’s Blog and Michelle’s Blog.

LFS Extra: More on Soul Action South Africa


Phil & Rachel sent so much information and detail about the research they did when they first arrived in Durban to how they got the network of local partners established and so on. I didn’t want to leave it out, so for those of you interested here are the extra details on what Phil & Rachel discussed in their ‘Introducing’ post….

How Phil & Rachel got started with Soul Action South Africa…

For the first eight months we made a commitment to visit as many Christians as possible who it was felt were in some way serving the poor and marginalised – so far we have met and recorded the work of 130 churches and / or Christian projects from across the municipality.  During this period we found many Christians who were doing amazing work but who were also, by the nature of their work, pretty much unaware of what else was going on.  Many people we spoke to felt isolated in the work that God had called them to, some wanted to serve the poor but just didn’t know how to get started, whilst others had a great desire to improve what they were already doing with, through and in their communities.  Our research has helped us to learn about the variety of work Christian’s are involved in throughout our municipality and as a result we have begun to understand some of the difficulties and frustrations they, and the poor they serve, face.

39% of the population of KwaZulu Natal is HIV+, higher than any other province in South Africa. Efforts to reduce new infections have had some success, but changing people’s behaviour takes time and factors that increase the risk of infection – such as poverty, social instability, illiteracy, sexual violence, and gender inequalities – cannot be addressed in the short term.  There are 11 million children living in poverty in South Africa, that’s over 60% of all its children! In 2008 the South African health department said that 1.5 million children had lost their parents to AIDS, by 2015 that number is estimated to grow as high as 5.7 million.  The impact of HIV/AIDS has a deep and lasting affect on communities and particularly households.

How the Network they have established is developing, learning & growing...

At our first Network gathering of the year the issue of human trafficking was highlighted.  An organization called Red Light shared with the network. Red Light Human Trafficking are a young adults team who have a keen interest in creating awareness on Human Trafficking and uplifting their community.   They explained what is meant by the term human trafficking – that human trafficking is the kidnapping, enslaving and exploitation of men, woman and children for use as sex workers, forced labour and in the illegal medical trade. They also shared some of the statistics, that 100,000 people will be trafficked into South Africa for the 2010 World Cup, that most trafficking victims are girls between 5 to 15 years old and that between 28,000 to 30,000 children are currently being prostituted in South Africa.They highlighted how we as churches / projects could share about the issue of human trafficking with the children we work with and empower them to make good decisions and speak up against these issues.

The Network is also proving to be a base of knowledge and expertise, projects can contact Soul Action South Africa with a need, and then we can point them in the direction of another who could provide the much needed area of expertise or service.   We produce a newsletter each month, which includes an article written by a member of the network, stories of encouragement, news from various projects, training opportunities, needs for specific resources, prayer requests and items to be thankful for.

The Young & Emerging Leaders Network: We believe there are many young people within the poor communities in which we work who have the potential of becoming leaders.  These young people need people to input into their lives and to work with them on achieving their goals.   Therefore we have started a network for young and emerging leaders.  We spent the day together last Saturday, which was amazing; there were 23 young emerging leaders who committed to be part of the network for this initial year.  All the Young and Emerging Leaders responded well to the activities and fully participated.  They worked well with their peers and there were lively discussions.  The day consisted of four workshops; The value of you, Peer mentoring, The value of others and The value of leadership.

The Literacy Project: Children who are being educated in some of the schools in the townships located across Durban are in large class sizes (between 60 and 70 learners per class) and the schools are very under-resourced.  Due to these circumstances many children are failing to learn the basic skills of reading and writing.  All children have to write their exams in English, therefore the children need to be learning English from a young age and at the same time their mother-tongue needs to be valued. The aim of the project is twofold: to equip the teachers to teach the children to read and write in English through modeling, team-teaching, developing appropriate resources, and lesson plans; and to empower the children to reach their full potential by learning to read and write in English. At the moment the project is working into one school, as funding allows this will be introduced in other schools across the city.

Plus Phil and Rachel have authored several books on poverty, development and mission, including Express Community Through Schools: Taking Social Action Beyond the Classroom, A Different World (a youthwork resource) and The Whole Wide World which you might be interested in! 🙂


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