Sunday, 27 February 2011

Born to write rubbish?

Last month I celebrated the third anniversary of this blog, a happy yet understated occasion.  However, during those three busy years, you won't believe how many times I have pondered just leaving it to die its own death in the blogosphere while I scurry back to an anonymous life far away from the wasteful coalface.  Fuelled by a multitude of conflicting commitments, an irrational fear of attracting more attention to myself and thoughts that there are much louder voices out there so what possible difference can I make, no wonder I've been at odds with my blogger's passion.

Yet this is my world, and yesterday I realised that I shouldn't be afraid of my own shadow. The issue of waste is more important than it has ever been, not least because of the imbalance between those of us who are lucky to waste what we like and those who are born into a life where the luxury of waste is not an option. What I am talking about here is real poverty and the wasted lives that result.

The event that has triggered such an outpour of serious contemplation on this otherwise relaxing Sunday morning was a blogging conference that I attended yesterday, which was organised by Save The Children.  As an international organisation, the charity operates in more than 120 countries, including the UK, working to save children's lives and fight for their rights, helping them to reach their potential.

Called Born to Write, it was a powerful conference, packed with hard-hitting photos and inspirational anecdotes about the influence of an individual's voice to harness change and prompt direct action.  Naturally the event focused on the work of the charity, highlighting its challenges.

I met passionate people who work hard to prevent young children dying from treatable conditions such as diarrohea and pneumonia whilst putting political pressure on world leaders to support necessary grants and in many cases cancel significant debts of impoverished countries. The aim of such political campaigns is to redirect much needed funds into free healthcare provision as well as solutions that tackle global child hunger and malnutrition. 

With rising food prices at home, we might complain about the higher cost of a weekly shop, but for millions, such hikes coupled by local famine, render basic foods unaffordable. And when you consider how much food is still wasted in the UK through lack of awareness and bad planning (and I confess to the odd item myself), it really highlights the scale of inequality.

One of the speakers at yesterday's conference was Director of Emergencies, Gareth Owen, whose job is to mobilise response teams to disaster zones such as Haiti. There were many things that he said which struck a chord, but one point that really stood out was his warning over the increased frequencies of natural disasters, which he attributed to the effects of climate change.  And it is the children of the poorest families who are ten times more likely to be affected by such environmental disasters.  It just shows how lucky I really am to have been born in the UK, with free health-care, access to education and a stable environment with minimal risk from natural disasters.  What I once took for granted now feels like a winning ticket in the remarkable lottery of life.

It would be easy to bury my head in the sand and run away from this blog due to issues of time, lack of confidence or the feeling that I don't shout loud enough to make a difference.  But one thing that yesterday taught me was that every blogger can make an impact on matters that they care about.

And I really do care about the amount of rubbish this world generates.  I also care about those who are less fortunate than me, and who are not so privileged or indeed do not live long enough to share their stories through their own voice.

No child born to die, is the carefully crafted title of the Save The Children campaign that was introduced to us yesterday, which asks each and every one of us, what we were born to do.

Well, after such a harrowing day, I realised I was born to teach my children about things that really matter and to raise them to be caring individuals, explaining more about the importance of stuff that I do.  Naturally I rushed home last night with renewed vigour to read them a bedtime story.   However as a blogger, and writing about the topics that I do, I hope that I was also born to make a difference to other people's lives too.

Whether that means I was born to write this rubbish blog, I guess only time will tell.  It's definitely stood the test of time so far, despite my other distractions.  Whatever happens, one thing's for sure and that's if what I write helps to bring even the smallest impact on the imbalance between the wasteful nature of our consumer-oriented society (governments and retailers included) and the poverty that exists both in the UK and abroad, I will be proud do have made my mark.

So, what were you born to do?

Whatever it is, I hope it matches your true passion, and if you're a blogger or someone who wants to take action to raise awareness of the effects of  global child poverty or indeed lobby parliament, you'll find lots of inspiration at



Emma said...

I'm glad you had a great day and that they made you feel like you could make a difference :D

PippaD said...

I am not sure what I was born to do. I blogged about this the other week, however I would like to say Thank you to you again for having helped me be a much better person with regards to my rubbish! You wouldn't believe the difference in my bins now ;)

Unknown said...

Wonderful post, Karen!
Things like these make us understand that our contribution to make the difference is very important!
Sometimes I see people around me making waste of everything... they ignore every consequence of their unconscious actions. The effects aren't even under our eyes!
And if we cannot save the world, at least we can raise awareness... perhaps it could be the reason for we were born! ;)

Rev. Peter Doodes said...

Well said Karen. We may never know what our action may result in but at least we know that we have done our best.

"What I once took for granted now feels like a winning ticket in the remarkable lottery of life". 100% spot on, but to listen to so many you would imagine that exactly the opposite is true... How sad.

Almost Mrs Average said...

Thanks Emma. It was a great day and I think it gave many people an opportunity to pause and reflect on the power of stories as well as reassessing their priorities. Well worth it. I hope the campaign achieves what it has set out to because it is truly inspirational:0)

Hey Pippa, thank you. Must pop over and have a read and thank you so much for your lovely words about your rubbish. So proud to have helped and really glad it's working. Now judging by your video and the many others i've seen before, I think you were born to entertain. No were! ;0)

Thanks Danda. I think you're right and one of the issues that was raised on Saturday was how to break through the barriers of everyday busy lifestyles. Sharing the message as a blogger feels like a drop in the ocean, but if there are enough drops, then hopefully the message gets louder. Who would have guessed we'd ever find our calling in rubbish lol ;0)

Indeed Peter. And what really worries me is that the scenes we see now are very much like the images I grew up with as a little girl, yet seem ten times more frequent. I remember my grandmother in tears at the sight of villages on TV, far far away, trying to survive famine or the aftermath of violent attacks. Is it because these places and incidents still feel too far away for many people? And can that ever change? Well, I hope so and am happy to do my bit :0)

@savechildrenuk said...

Thanks for posting such an inspirational blog. It was lovely to see all of you at the bloggers conference and grreat to know that you feel even more confidentto use your blogging talent to help us save children's lives. You are truly amazing.

Almost Mrs Average said...

Waves to the hardworking folk @Savechildrenuk... Thank you again for such an inspiring and thought-provoking conference. I hope it proved to be a success for you in sharing your increasingly important message and that our online community can help make a difference.

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