This is a bit of an unusual post from me. Normally I stick to pictures of vegetables, sewing, and my dinner.
But today I'm going for something a bit different.
First of all, I must confess to hanging around on this here internet rather too much of late. Bad things can come of that - but mostly good things, depending on where you hang out. I've struck up some beautiful, long lasting, real life friendships through the internet, and so many positive, life changing things have happened as a result of them.
Today I want to tell you about something, and make a suggestion.
I want to tell you about a network I'm part of, a virtual network, on a virtual forum, which I first went on to to figure out how to save money on my van insurance. There I found lots of beautiful, wonderful people, sorting out their finances, and at the same time, supporting each other to change their lives.
One of those women is Elaine. For one reason and another, reasons that happen to lots of people every day, and through no fault of her own, Elaine found herself standing in the bank one day, threatened with repossession of her home, and left with only 71p and three nappies.
Through a couple of years of astonishing strength, she's pulled herself back from that edge, and on Monday she relaunched her own business, and took herself off benefits.
Many of us have followed her story, and been inspired by her positivity, strength, and can-do attitude. We cheered her on. She cheered us on. In fact, we all cheered each other on, so much so that a whirlpool of generosity, good feeling, and hope circled round all of us, til we found ourselves doing things we'd never dreamed we could, taking leaps of faith, and believing that we'd have a soft landing. We generally did.
We've commiserated each other through illness, job loss, crises of all kinds, and celebrated wildly as we've pulled through those crises, found new and better jobs, and got well again. Claire's beautiful jewelry-making business, which had been ticking along slowly for months, has suddenly skyrocketed after suggestions were made, offers of help accepted, and the positivity seeped through us all and out into the universe.
One chance comment made by a woman who works in a South African orphanage, about how a visitor to South Africa might like to bring a couple of old football shirts for the children she works with, bounced around this network of women - 'my son has an old shirt, would you like that?' 'my daughter's team are replacing their kit, could we send the old ones to you?' 'Wouldn't it be lovely if we could get the kit to you by Christmas!' 'Wouldn't it be lovely if we could *all* collect some kit?'
In fact, wouldn't it be lovely if we could collect 10,000 football shirts, ship them all to South Africa, and put 10,000 smiles on 10,000 faces for Christmas?
And so - Kits for Kids was born.
It's not something that would usually inspire me, I'm afraid, collecting football shirts. I have no interest in football whatsoever. I have more of an interest in helping orphans, of course, but I would have questioned whether the best way to do that was by sending football kits. However, what I *love* about this whole thing is the passion, the drive, the enthusiasm, the can-do attitude, the YES, we'd LOVE to help, what can we do? The bouncing around of ideas, the chance suggestions feeding into each other...
And so, here I am, slightly bizarrely, asking those of you in the UK if you have any old football shirts lying around the house that you'd like to donate. Or if you know anybody else who might do.
In the midst of all this energy and enthusiasm, someone else asked - how will we get all these shirts to South Africa by Christmas?
And I love the fact that instead of the idea falling flat at this giant hurdle, the mantle was instead taken up - 'I know someone who works for a shipping company', 'I'll ask the local football club for sponsorship'. Yet again - what can we DO?
Remember Elaine? She who started the whole thing in the first place? She's apparently the five times world mind mapping champion - did you even know there was such a thing? One aspect of her new business is teaching people how to learn effectively. Because isn't that really the key to everything in life - the ability to take in and retain information, to know how to find things out, to think creatively?
And she's selling copies of her two fabulous books - one for adults, one for students of all ages, both of which contain a wealth of techniques for learning effectively. £3 from the sale of each one will go towards the shipping costs for Kits for Kids. See, we're all helping each other.
So, if you've got some old football kit lying around, get in touch with me. We can only collect in the UK, I'm afraid. And if you'd love to take in all that information that whizzes past each day, to regain your enthusiasm for learning, and at the same time support a woman jumping headlong into the world of self employment, and pulling the rest of us along for the ride, then pop over to Elaine's site and have a look at her books.
Be part of something BIG.
The photographs here were taken at the Katha Day Centre in Katlahong. Katha Day Centre is a registered charity in South Africa, Charity Number 031-394 NPO