#Blogladesh; let's just do it.

>> Friday, 13 August 2010

When I was 17 years old, I moved schools. No, scratch that; I moved universe. My parents relocated from Gloucestershire to the South Coast and I moved from the safe, known quantity of the Cotswold convent school that I'd been attending for the previous 6 years into the urban jungle of a mixed Catholic grammer.

Hardly 'the hood', I know, but for me it was a step into the unknown.

It could all have gone so very wrong - and I suppose that, academically, it did. Note my use of the word 'academically' though. I didn't use the word 'education' there, and for the very good reason that this move probably did more to educate me in the real world and how it worked than I realised at the time.

Clearly, my grades suffered, no question. I'm not sure that I would have done substantially better in my A-levels if I'd stayed put with the nuns in Cheltenham - I was always in the 'could do better if only she would apply herself more' category - but I could probably have squeezed out one or two extra points on my UCCA form. So I suppose I might - might - have gone to a different college and (perish the thought) have made different long-term friends at university than the ones I still see today, but overall I don't think the long term outcome would have been so different. And no doubt it would still have taken me until my mid-20's to become properly interested in turning up to work on time and trying to make anything like a career work for me...

Unsurprisingly, on the other hand, the move from convent to grammer school improved my social skills and social life immensely. You could say, in fact, that it was the making of me, because for the first time in my life I realised that I didn't have to fit the same persona that I'd worn for the previous 11 years of education - a bit shy, a bit of an outsider, always with my head stuck in a book - but could be who I wanted to be. Which, admittedly, was not so different from before, but which had one crucial added ingredient; confidence. I suddenly realised that I was in control of my destiny; it was up to me to make things work or not; it was up to me to decide if I wanted to fit in or stand on the outside; I could Make Things Happen.

I have to say, as a seminal moment, it was hard to beat.

Of course, it was easy for me think I was becoming more confident and less retiring. But only a couple of weeks after I arrived in my new school something happened that made me realise it was time to walk the walk; I saw the first of Micheal Buerk's news reports on the BBC about the famine in Ethopia. I watched it, appalled. How could this be happening? How could we let it happen? Surely people couldn't stand by and do nothing?

So, for one of the first times in my life, I decided to not stand by. The next morning I went into school and (having asked the head's permission first like the good convent girl I still was really at that point) I visited every single class in the 1200 pupil school, reminded them of what we'd all seen on tv the previous evening, and asked them to hand over all their spare cash for me to give to Save the Children to channel to the victims of the famine.

It worked. I can't remember the exact sum I handed but it was approaching £300 (worth around £670 now, not that bad for a shock collection in a school). I was lucky, I think, in many ways. Firstly, 26 years ago, there were only 4 channels on television, and the Beeb was still king. At that point they were still showing the main news of the day at 9.00pm, and almost every single child in the school had seen the same footage I had and wanted to help in some way. Secondly, I was the Newbie, and as such I had nothing to lose. I had no reputation to trash or otherwise by doing such a 'worthy' thing; there were no expectations of me by long term friends or teachers, I had no boyfriend to embarrass, and I didn't much care (at that point) whether it was acceptable to the cool kids or not.

I just decided I had to help, got off my butt, and did it the best way I knew how.

Times change, obviously. We're all much more jaded on the issue of handing over money to charity now than we were back then. Sure, we all do it, but the noise that's generated by all the different needs and causes out there can be deafening; who to give to, how much, when, and by what means?

But there are additional ways to help; we are living in the 'information society'. We have the power to make a difference simply by tapping a few keys to communicate with others. So whilst I'm not for one minute suggesting you should stop giving to the DEC who need your money right now for so many different issues including but not limited to victims of the flooding in Pakistan, I would also like to ask that you pay attention to what three bloggers are doing at the beginning of September when they travel out to India for an awareness saving trip with Save the Children.

Josie at Sleep is for the Weak, Eva at Nixdminx, and Sian at Mummy Tips are walking the walk of the brave and going out there to see it all at first hand, report back, and to help make a difference to children's lives.

In a recent post, Eva wrote:

'When I set up a hashtag on Wednesday I thought it might help, it was #bloggersforpakistan, and based upon the #bloggersforhaiti which we used earlier this year. By lunchtime the same day it went global. It surprised and amazed me as a seemingly disconnected community continued to retweet the hash tag and link to the DEC fund raising site – the support gathered swiftly and made an impact in a way that none of us could ever imagined a few years ago. Suddenly there was a buzz which generated awareness.

Imagine this ‘buzz’ as a Morse Code, or a cyber smoke signal, if you will – a spark of inspiration quickly ignites a flame of interest. We want to keep this flame burning bright. So for the next few weeks, you’ll see #blogladesh attached to many of my tweets, please retweet and help us. I am heading to Bangladesh with Mummytips and Porridgebrain for an awareness raising trip with Save the Children.'

Ladies, I salute you; I know you can make a difference.


Anonymous,  14 August 2010 at 00:58  

hi everybody

great forum lots of lovely people just what i need

hopefully this is just what im looking for, looks like i have a lot to read.

PantsWithNames 14 August 2010 at 09:14  

actually doing something makes such a difference. It is so easy to do nothing. Congrats to you for doing something back then, and big congrats for #blogladesh!

Marianne 14 August 2010 at 10:39  

I'm sitting at my computer with my cup of coffee demolishing a bar of cadburys fruit and nut, whilst reading your blog. Not how I intended to spend the morning, and I really was only going to eat 4 pieces... but I really enjoyed reading this post and lots of what you say really strikes a cord for me. Very impressed by what you did in your new school - it must have been very empowering.

Sian Mummy-Tips 14 August 2010 at 12:01  

Thanks to everyone for your amazing support. xx

nappy valley girl 14 August 2010 at 14:26  

Bravo for highlighting it, and to the people who are making it happen.

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