Monday, 19 November 2012

Putting life in perspective

Sometimes things that you see or read really make you stop and take stock of life. I know that I often lose track of what really matters in life, it gets lost in the daily grind which consists of mainly shopping,cooking, cleaning, homework, my work etc etc
And then occasionally something happens to make you realise that we're very lucky to have money to shop with, food to cook, a house to clean and so on.

I haven't suddenly had an epiphany this week, just a series of reminders which did make me stop and think.

I mentioned in my last post that I'd organised a charity Christmas fair for last Saturday; it went really well but it was arranged in haste and I didn't have time to really think about what we were doing it for. It's a long story but some years ago, when we were still a family of 4 with 2 very young boys we booked a holiday to The Gambia in West Africa. We are reasonably adventurous and decided to go out and about and visit a couple of local villages and their schools. We're not naive people and were aware it was a third world country but we were very shocked by what we saw. The poverty and conditions people were living in were worse than we expected and something I was far more used to seeing on TV than finding myself in the middle of.

enjoying the hospitality of a local family
The people we met were so friendly and welcoming and we ate and spent time with a local family. We took a gift of rice and some pencils etc for the children.

After we came home the sights we'd seen stayed with us for a long time, I don't have many photos as I was embarrassed to be seen with a camera (this was the days before every mobile phone had a small discreet camera); in fact I was embarrassed that we were fully clothed and had shoes on.

I spent a good part of that holiday in tears, I wasn't the only one either although he'd probably deny it now! Anyway since our return home from that trip in 2002 we have steadily raised money from fairs, coffee mornings and raffles; all the money was sent to Gambia via a UK charity. Money goes a long way over there and in 2010 we had raised enough to build a 3 classroom nursery school - it cost around £9000.

Anyway the Christmas Fair came and went last week in a flurry of activity and the money we raised (just under £500) will be forwarded to the charity in due course. However my memories of the children in Gambia are not as sharp as they were and it's very easy to forget the reasons why we started to fundraise. Organising another fundraiser just sits on my "to-do" list and I deal with it along with other jobs, and sometimes it gets pushed to the bottom of the list.

But last week while reading a post by Mrs Woog I blog hopped over to this post by a lady called Eden Riley. And I stopped for a few minutes to properly read what she had written.

It has really made me stop and think, and take stock of what's really important. I'm going to try to stop worrying that our extension isn't quite ready and I had wanted to be sitting in it by Christmas (actually Christmas 2006 but that's a whole other story!), that I haven't got any idea what to get my kids for Christmas, that the few things I can think of aren't enough. That their friends will inevitably get more than they do. Actually if they never had another gadget/book/T-shirt in their lives they would still have so much more than some children.

Sometimes it's good to take a step back and look around us;
I for one have been reminded how lucky I am.

PS - I really must add that we've raised all the money with a lot of help from some very good friends, we wouldn't have managed anything without them


  1. You have been able to raise such an amazing amount of money and helped so many children.
    For this December I have been trying to think of ideas to get the children involved in that involve helping others, like you ours have so much when others have so little.
    Does make you stop and think and appreciate everything.
    Lisa x

  2. Congratulations on raising the money for such a worth while cause. We in this country have no true idea of what real poverty is. A very thought provoking post.

  3. You have done an amazing amount already. Great blog. Good for us all to stop and think.


  4. Yes, as Liz says, thanks for making us all stop and think. And what a meaningful experience for your kids that really has deepened their knowledge of how some of the world lives. (Too often here in the East Bay, parents send their kids on these incredibly expensive High School trips ($10,000!) where the kids go to a village ostensibly to help - but they have no skills and they end up only being to teach the kids to set up a facebook page...)

  5. So good to stop and consider. I've been blogging on a similar topic and a friend's direct experience, like yours, really brings it home (and makes me so grateful!) What a wonderful family experience you have had, and what a difference you have clearly made.

  6. How wonderful that you holiday to the Gambia has resulted in improving the lives of others each year through the money you had helped to raise.
    This time of year when the emphasis seems to be on spending on things we don't really need, thank you for reminding us to stop and think.
    Sarah x

  7. Well done on all the money you've raised to date, you've actually made a real difference to people's lives. Children here are so spoilt and have far more than they could ever need.

  8. Well done arranging such a great sum of money for this charity. I had similar thoughts whilst watching Children in Need last week.

    Victoria x

  9. You've done a brilliant job, carrying on with the fundraising when it would have been easy to come home and let the memory fade away. Well done you.

  10. A very moving post. We have so much to be thankful for and sometimes lose sight of what's really important. Well done for helping where you could. xx