Tag Archives: World Vision

A Night of Hope – World Vision and Halloween

Halloween is not my favourite time of year.  I’m not keen on trick or treating, neither doing it nor being on the receiving end – I keep the lights off at the front of the house once it is dark, and just hope no-one rings the bell.  Until I had children, it was fairly easy to avoid the whole thing, but I can’t do that now.  I prefer to focus on Autumn and Harvest, and not dwell too much on the scary stuff, though I am okay with the children exploring it if it is their own idea.  So our Halloween activities tend to be a mishmash of things with a lot of different influences.

I will write a post later with more about what we have been up to, and some photos.  It has involved potions in cauldrons, Halloween toast, dressing up, some traditional Halloween games and eating sweets and chocolate!  Now the older three children are at church, at the Rainbow Party – an alternative celebration for Halloween, so I don’t think they are missing out on the fun.

Given my ambivalence towards Halloween, I was really glad to hear that this year, World Vision want to turn a night of fear into a night of hope, and very happy to support their campaign.  This is what they have to say about it:

“Our children enjoy the frights of Halloween one night a year, but for many children around the world there are real things to be afraid of. World Vision is fighting to make the world a safer place for young people vulnerable to child marriage, malnutrition, dirty water and more. Read more about how we helped Sylvia from Uganda escape child marriage at fifteen on our campaign page.”

FB & Twitter pumpkin teaser no2 806x806

World Vision are asking people to carve a heart in a pumpkin as a sign of hope, and if you send them a picture you will be included in their night of hope gallery.  Everyone who downloads their Night of Hope pack will be entered into a competition to win a cookery class with Lesley Waters and a free night’s accommodation worth £300.  Obviously it would have been good if I had told you this before Halloween, but you might be able to sneak an entry in if you are quick!

We have an eclectic mix of pumpkin decorating styles going on in our house.  Knowing that the poor neglected pumpkins growing in our garden were rather small, I bought a medium sized one to add to them.  Daddy then bought an enormous one which the children couldn’t even lift!  I have carved hearts and stars into the one I bought, and some more stars in the best of our home-grown bunch.  Owl asked for a pumpkin with the word Jesus carved on it, and luckily daddy was able to do that just before he left for work – I’m impressed, as it looked rather tricky to do.  Rabbit really wanted one with a face on so I used one of our little ones for that.  We still have a couple left so I might do some more tomorrow.

Night of Hope 1

The reason the face is a different colour is that we used a small electric “candle” which we were given by a friend yesterday.  The ones with the real candles in look a bit more atmospheric, but I wasn’t sure about putting one in such a tiny pumpkin where the flame would be very close to the edge.

Night of Hope 2

Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life” (John 8:12)

I’m pleased with how our random collection of pumpkins have turned out, and it feels good to be a small part of a campaign to improve the lives of many children around the world.  Closer to home, I am thinking of a beautiful little girl who should be with her mummy and daddy this Halloween – instead we will be gathering in Reading on Saturday to remember her on the day that she has been dead for as long as she was alive.  And as always I am also remembering a very special little boy who should be with his family too.  I can never light a candle without thinking of these two little people, so Freddie and Matilda Mae, the hearts and stars are for you and your families tonight xxxx

Just playing

It’s probably going to be hard to explain why this picture means something to me.  It’s just a load of toys on our saggy old sofa, a scene you might see any day in our house.  Quite a nice little arrangement of dolls perhaps, but nothing special.  Just one of Monkey’s many creative play scenes which he loves to make.  The thought that he put into it, the care he took over the details, his satisfaction when he had achieved what he had set out to do…these are the reasons why this picture sums up childhood for me.

Some would say he was “just playing” but I think that is missing the point.  It’s easy to be influenced by the world around us, with its constant messages that our children need something more.  More structure, more organised activities, more early education, more targets, more testing… Loud and clear we hear it, if you don’t give your children all this, they will fail, they won’t be able to compete, they won’t get in to a good school, college, university, they won’t have a future.  How many of us stop to question it?

But we should.  We should question the idea that play is something to be fitted in only if the work is done.  Even though it has become more fashionable to talk about “learning through play” this has made little real difference.  Even with the best of intentions, it can be difficult for teachers to plan opportunities for “learning through play” without taking a lot of the joy and creativity out of it.  Children learn best when they have the freedom to lead the play themselves, and to develop it as much or as little as they need to at that time.

As a home educator it is easy to pick out examples of our children learning through play, and it is very satisfying to be able to report that they have, for example, set up a cafe, written menus, taken orders and worked out the cost and the change.  It is tempting to jump up and down with glee, and say “Look, here they are, doing English and Maths, and they think they are just playing!”  But if we only recognise that they are learning through play when their play happens to coincide with a neat and tidy list of subjects (the National Curriculum perhaps), then we really don’t know the half of it.  We may not know what they are learning, perhaps we don’t need to, but when children are given the freedom to play in a stimulating environment, and allowed time to develop their play and sustain it for as long as they want, we can be sure they are learning.  This is the kind of childhood that I want my children to have, and in this country we are lucky to be able to give our children this freedom.  We are also able to choose whether they are educated in school or at home, but it is accepted without question that every child has a right to an education.

While I was thinking about this post, I had an interesting conversation with Owl and Monkey.  It started with a rant about tidying Lego, and how we should look after our toys as many children don’t have any.  We talked about the situation in West Africa, and our involvement (with other bloggers) in the World Vision sponsorship scheme; about how it would feel to be hungry all the time, to work very hard or walk a long way to get a little water or food, and not to have time and energy to play; about how charities are working to provide food for the children who need it, but they need our help.  Owl suggested that we should get some of our toys and send them to the children, so we had a discussion about the cost of sending toys to West Africa!

Most of us have comfortable homes, warm clothes, enough food and an abundance of toys, books and other possessions.  Many children and families in West Africa have very few of these things.  We may feel helpless, but in reality we are not.  In our own small way we can each make a difference to one child, one family, and collectively we can make a bigger difference by sharing our efforts.

This post was written for a blog hop to raise awareness of World Vision’s West Africa Appeal, and the DFID matched funding they are receiving until 30th August.  Any amount you are able to donate via the World Vision website will be doubled and will go towards long term projects to help build a better future for the children of West Africa.

I am tagging two other bloggers to join in to the blog hop if they wish, to help spread the word.

1.  Holly Blog

2.  homeschoolingmiddleeast

This is a blog hop hosted by Patch of Puddles.