Wednesday, 29 September 2010

With Tony Wadsworth on BBC Radio Leicester

For those that missed my interview on BBC Radio Leicester today with the lovely Tony Wadsworth. I was going well till my phone rang!! If you are interested it was the girls ballet teacher! Oops... sorry Tony!

If you haven't already bought Nicolas Kristof's book Half the Sky - here is the Amazon link. Do it now, you won't be sorry.

Monday, 27 September 2010

and don't get me started on school dinners.....

Granted I have been a tad busy over the last few weeks as I juggle my family and business with the stuff I have been doing for Save the Children.
But I am getting increasingly peeved with the letters requesting voluntary contributions for school activities that clearly aren't voluntary at all.
Take last week.
On Friday a letter came home with ModelGirl about a Roman Day that was happening the following Monday. I had two days to deck her out in Roman gear, I had to pay £5 for the privilege and I was off to New York.
After a frank discussion regarding timings and the merits of Roman fashion model girl decided that we didn't need to stress and that school uniform was good for her.

So off I went to New York and on Monday Roman day happened. Lucky for all the losers parents like me - they had plenty of spare costumes so that everyone could join in.
The following day I had a text from school asking me to pay my 'voluntary' £5 contribution. Two days later I had another text reminding me that I still hadn't paid my 'voluntary' contribution and then today I got a third text. 
Clearly the contribution is not so voluntary after all.

Is this normal primary school stuff? Does this happen at your child's school?

And then don't even get me started on school dinners...... Jamie might have made them trendy but I think that our school is way off the mark.

My children all attend a state church aided school in a beautiful rural village setting. The food is pretty rank in my own personal opinion but there is no way I'm entertaining making 3 packed lunches every day. So school dinners it is. The issue here is that they cost £1.90 a day. So with three in school that's nearly £30 a week and £354 for the term. The children who qualify for free school meals can be counted on one hand and there is a real negativity around the fact that us parents feel that the education authority are over charging us to make up the deficit in schools where free school meals are the norm.

I would love to know how much your school meals cost - and if you think they are worth it.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Around the world and back...

To say that I've been on a journey over the past few weeks would be an understatement. London, Dhaka, Barisal, Bhola, London, New York, London. The miles that I have travelled have not only been physical.

Six weeks ago I was oblivious to the intense suffering endured by women and children across the third world - then I visited Bangladesh.
There was no way I could have prepared myself for what I saw and experienced there and I returned home jaded and angry about the injustice that people were still living in such primitive, hopeless conditions in this modern world.
Then I read the most shocking book that I have ever read. It's called Half the Sky by the New York Times Journalist Nicholas Kristof. As a woman and a mother, I implore you to read it. I feel so passionately that Nicholas's writing simply has to be shared.
Seriously, I had NO idea that the things he writes about are common practices across the world and now that I do know I HAVE to do something to make a difference.
So off I went to the UN Millennium Development Goal Summit with Save the Children and politicians listened and I was featured in the Guardian and on the ITN News at 10 but that isn't enough. I know that I have to do something personally. So that is my challenge to myself. To make a difference. To offer a lifeline to another woman. To help save a child. It's really that simple. 
I just visited Global and for $10 supported two girls in achieving their dreams to become educators themselves. It really is that simple.

I was lucky enough to meet my new hero Nicholas Kristoph, all be it briefly in New York this week. The man is amazing. His writing is gripping and I promise you that you will not regret reading his book.
Without our support women will continue to be sold, gang raped, violated, sexually mutilated, trafficked, beaten and left to die and their children the products of rape and torture will be born into this shocking cycle that HAS to be broken.

Thank you to Liz and everyone at Save the Children for giving me this life changing experience and for welcoming me into their team in New York this week. They worked me like a dog - but it was totally worth it.
Why are you still here? Get buying Half the Sky.....

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

I speak to Nick Clegg

It's been a pretty amazing day here in New York. It's been hot, busy and the roads have been at gridlock as Obama hit town.

Yes that's him going into the UN in his motorcade!

So my big news today was my meeting with the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg. I went over to the UK Mission to the UN offices along with representatives from a few other charities and drank lots of water whilst we waited for him to arrive.
I asked him how he felt as a father that 9 million children were needlessly dying each year. This is his response.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

The Gallery - A smile

I have so many lovely pics of my girls big bright smiles but I love this shot of Model Girl peeping through a wall.
For this weeks Gallery

Sian and Adrian Show Day 2

Monday, 20 September 2010

The MDG Summit day 1

Today's the first day of the UN Summit and I've spent most of it at the Save the Children interactive art installation at Grand Central Station.
We've been stopping New Yorkers and asking them to add their thumb prints to this amazing piece of artwork created by the British artist Ian Wright.
I've spoken to the actress Claire Danes about her involvement with Save the Children and interviewed Andrew Mitchell the UK Secretary of State for International Development. The good news is that he has pledged to support Save the Children in training 400,000 community healthcare workers before 2015 and that the UK government will do all they can to ensure the Millennium Development Goals are reached. The gols are way off track and there is a lot to achieve in the next five years, so lets hope that he meant what he said.
Artwork created by Ian Wright

Actress Claire Danes gives her thumb print.

Children's food expert Annabel Karmel stopped by to show her support.

Speaking to Andrew Mitchell

Nutrition - What is being done in India?

Yesterday before the summit kicked off I spoke to Dr Rajiv Tandon about the nutrition projects in India. He is a very inspirational guy who has helped to same many children.

One day till the MDG Summit

Tomorrow I'll be at Save the Children's interactive art installation at Grand Central Station where I'll be speaking to the Emmy winning actress Claire Dane.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Blogladesh... Behind the scenes at the BMB web chat

We were a bit rowdy due to the fact that we'd been able to take our first semi normal shower in three days but this is us  - as we were talking to you all courtesy of my CyberMummy partners Susanna and Jen of British Mummy Bloggers.
Don't know about you but I think their web chats are a million times better than mumsnet.

Inside a Bangladesh village home

Tomorrow I'm off to the UN Summit with Liz from Save the Children as an extension to our Blogladesh campaign. I'll be reporting back and giving my views on the political side of the campaign.
If you were wondering why you should get behind Save the Children and Press for Change, watch this.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

The Gallery... Celebration

Holy shmoly look at the time....... I nearly didn't make this weeks Gallery at all. 
I've been wracking my brain and trawling my photos for something to fit the Celebration theme and then it dawned on me. 
Quite simple really - I bring you some of the amazing children I met in Bangladesh - celebrating life.

As an extension to our trip to Bangladesh I'm heading off to the UN Summit in New York on Saturday. I'll be reporting back from the Mashable Digital lounge and flying the flag for #Blogladesh. Thank you for all the amazing support you have shown. 
Don't forget to sign up for Josie's web chat with Nick Clegg over on mumsnet tomorrow night and if you haven't already it's not too late to Press for Change.

Do you have any spare frocks?

A few weeks ago I met a blogger / journalist from my local newspaper who is in the middle of a pretty tricky challenge called 365 Dresses. It's an ambitious project in aid of the mental health charity Mind and she really could do with a bit of help.
The rules state that she has to wear a different dress every day for 365 days and she's not allowed to buy any of the dresses that she wears. So this is where you guys come in. Do you have a dress that you can donate? She is petite so I'm thinking a size 10 max.
If you have a dress and can help her out, please leave a comment and I will be in touch.
You can also follow her on Twitter and make sure you stop by her blog where she shares an amazingly frank and open narrative of her life under the crushing cloud of bipolar.
All dresses donated will be sold on to raise money for Mind.
Pic from her blog Lost in Notation.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Back home

All week people have been asking me how my trip to Bangladesh has affected me, but in all honesty I've been too caught up in the whirl of family, media and work to come to any conclusions. I'm not sure that it's going to be as simple as saying I've learnt a, b & c because deep down I feel the change is more of a spiritual one. 
I feel different inside.

I'm angry about the injustice of it all. 
I'm ecstatic to be born here in the modern world. 
I'm shocked that millions of people are still living in such primitive conditions. 
I'm thankful for western medicine. 
I'm outraged by my own frivolous existence. 
I'm grateful that Save the Children gave me this opportunity - but do you know what?
It isn't about me.

The trip wasn't about me. Blogladesh was about connecting with children like Yasmine and Sanjita and Shanto. It was about seeing their lives through my maternal eyes. Feeling their mother's pain, concern, anger and helplessness and then sharing those feelings with people back home who have the power to make life saving changes.

It's very easy to think that the actions of a single person won't make a difference - but they can and they do. It take less than 5 mins to sign the Press for Change petition. 

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Blogladesh... Yesterday's Radio interview

Here's a link to my interview on BBC Radio Northampton.... it's in two parts..
Part 1

If you haven't already done so - please sign the Press for Change petition on the Save the Children web site

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Blogladesh on ITN Lunchtime news

Sorry about the quality of the clip but it disappeared from ITV player before I could grab it.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

The first day of school

This week's Gallery theme is Back To School.
I missed my kids first day back this year as I was away in Bangladesh - however, I love this pic from Funny Girls's very first day of primary school.
So that's FunnyGirl (centre year 4+, ModelGirl year 2 & TotallySonny year 3).

MummyTips on BBC EMT

The BBC TV crew arrived first thing on Sunday morning, so I apologise for looking so jaded!

Monday, 6 September 2010

Mummytips on BBC Radio Leicester

My post #Blogladesh interview with @wadsworthBBC on BBC Radio Leicester this morning. Do tune in to BBC East Midlands today at 6.30pm tonight for another interview.

Sign the Press for Change petition here.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Blogladesh road trip

A glimpse of our road trip from Barisal back to Dhaka.

Friday, 3 September 2010

The government hospital facility

Thanks for your comments on yesterday's post. Yes it is the government hospital. If you thought those images were shocking, perhaps you shouldn't watch this film.

Eva speaks to Dr Abdullah al Baki.

Visit Eva's blog for her view on what we saw.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

What do you think this is?

We all went a bit quiet yesterday afternoon. There were a few sombre tweets but after what we had witnessed at the local government clinic we all needed some space.
I filmed Eva speaking to one of the doctors. It's a powerful post but due to the instability of our connection I'm not going to be able to post it until we get back to the city tomorrow. Instead I'll leave you with a few images from today. 
Tell me, what kind of building do you think I took them in?

I do have another post in me today but we are about to meet for dinner. I'll get straight back to it when I get back later.
Finally, there seems to be intense debate flying around about the validity of our trip - so here's the chance to ask the three of us any questions about where we have been and the people we have met. We'll film the best ones and post them onto our YouTube channel and include a link to your blog.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Guest Post... Blogladesh a view from home

This is a guest post written by my husband Yan.

I write this post from the position of a person sat in their home in the UK whose wife is in the field in Bangladesh. By nature I am a pragmatic person. I search for solutions and try not to get too clouded by sentiment or emotion.
When Sian said she had been asked to visit Bangladesh by Save the Children, my first reaction were concerns about her safety. I realised though, that it was not in the best interests of Save the Children to allow any harm to come to her.  I was really happy that she had been given this opportunity. On reflection though at no point did I even consider the people of Bangladesh or what she would witness. I presumed it was just the kind of thing you see on the television where celebrities visit crisis zones. It is very sad and we are happy to donate but that’s it. I lead a busy life with lots of responsibilities.  
What I completely failed to account for was when a person you know is telling you straight about what they witness you respond differently. No longer do you just watch but you become involved. 
What I hadn’t grasped was that poverty is not a point for clever debate. Poverty is not a statistic on a chart. Poverty is real and the people it affects have names and lives and hopes and dreams. In the case of some of the people that Sian has met, dreams may be the life of their baby or the hope that their children may grow to be adults. Both these dreams are far from forgone conclusions. I have heard of babies lying on hospital tables because they don’t have any beds. Toilets (holes dug in the ground) are situated next to ponds used for drinking. Babies are dying from diseases that are preventable and curable.  People are living in squalour and filth. Babies are dying in vast numbers. But look at the pictures the team have taken. They show children smiling and genuine joy in their faces in spite of everything they face. Is that not a sign of the beauty of humanity and why it should be protected? If you look closer at the pictures and divert your gaze from the smiling faces and look at backgrounds then you begin to see a bigger picture. I get it now. She has made it is real.
We live in a world driven by violence and retaliation. Consider if the money the west put into getting revenge was used to “get” poverty, what would that achieve? Could we not embrace all the worlds cultures and beliefs as a global community? Those who would seek to do harm would be marginalised and perhaps over time be no more.  This is not meant as a political statement, just an idea.
Articles will of course be written on why this can never work. Some will be convincing and others less so. The thing is though, that whilst we procrastinate, people are dying. Whilst we find reasons for not supporting or helping, people are dying. Whilst we look the other way, people are dying.
The goverments of the world have the ability to end world poverty within one generation, but ultimately they have other priorities. Before Sian went to Bangladesh I would have seen the sense in that and thought nothing else of it.
What Blogladesh has made me realise is that there is nothing more precious than the gift of life bestowed on a child and each child in Bangladesh has just the same rights as our children. There is nothing heroic or beautiful in their plight. They are people in trouble and as people, we owe it to our humanity to help.

The Gallery for Blogladesh

Thank you Tara for supporting our trip to Bangladesh with this weeks Gallery. It means a lot to us all.
Sunday 29th August 2010 - Doha airport en route to Bangladesh.
You know the way it works. Stop by as many posts as you can, visit some new blogs, leave a few comments and make some new friends. I can't wait to see a snap shot of our lives.
If you haven't signed the Save the Children Press for Change petition - now's your chance.


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