Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Let a Child Learn

Update: In what must surely be unprecedented speed in charity raising without the use of a celebrity my sister Claire has raised ALL the money required to build a new pre-school for her young students in Mozambique. The speed in which this was accomplished indicates not only how easy it is to follow a person as passionate, open, courageous and exciting as my sister but what an incredible project she chose to assist in Mozambique. My sincere thanks go to everyone who came here, read this piece and went to donate. Or spread the word to others. You have helped a group of young kids to get one step closer to whatever it is their heart desires to be.


The university a few blocks away always puts on an incredible fireworks display for Chinese New Year. This year we decided to let Eloise stay up a bit later than usual, strapped her in her bear suit and walked over. We made it just in time and were racing through the courtyard to get to the top of the hill when the first explosions went off resonating off the University walls.

When we found a space on the green I held her in my arms and watched her watching the sky explode into fire and sound. She had a very worried look on her face. She didn’t cry, but she seemed to be thinking about it. I put my hand against her head to try and deaden the sound.

I looked at her worried face and told her that it was only fireworks.

I was suddenly struck with the image of all the mothers in this world who had ever had to cushion the sound of falling bombs from their baby’s ears. Mothers who tried to convince their children that the sound of rapid gunfire was “only fireworks”. And then I started to silently shed tears.

As a young teenager I used to wear my heart on my sleeve. I used to be passionate and enraged at injustice. Shocked at war.

Then I moved to Europe and my bleeding heart slowly retreated back into place. I became complacent and perhaps not a little lazy. With Eloise my passion has resurfaced but now it is all directed towards her – and whatever could possibly affect her.

My younger sister Claire has managed to not only hold on to her “bleeding heart” but has used it to try and put the world to right. She has devoted 2 years of her life to being a volunteer for the U.S. Peace Corps in Mozambique.

Claire (known in some circles as the toddler whisperer) is working with THE ONLY PRE-SCHOOL IN THE COUNTRY. Mozambique does not start education until the age of 5. These young children are often left running around their village, looking after even younger siblings. If you can walk – you’re old enough to carry a baby who can’t. My sister has joined forces with a Mozambican couple that have set up a rudimentary school for children aged 2 – 5. I love hearing the stories about these kids - not just because they sound like funny, unspoiled, loving children – but because my sister’s voice fills with light when she talks about them. These kids have little, and my sister and the other people who run this school often go without a salary to keep it running (food and security are the main costs). Through the Peace Corps my sister is trying to raise money so that by the time she leaves these children have a proper learning environment to create the building blocks for the rest of their education. For the rest of their lives.

I often joke that I do not need to be a philanthropist because my sister is doing it for both of us.

A recent email from my sister about the smiley boy nicknamed Zee in this photo: We celebrated zees birthday at preschool and it was amazing in a different way, we painted all the kids with face paint, zee wore a suit and a crown we made and walked into the room where everyone was sitting and singing, i put him up on a thrown we had made, he was completely overwhelmed by it and put his head in my chest and cried silenltly and refused to answer questions, we cut his cake together and shared it with everyone, he was so adorable.

Impromptu class photo. Too cute.

The four oldest girls at the pre-school.

But what I can do is use this blog as a space to urge anyone reading to donate to my sister’s program.

Please visit this link and read more. Donating is really easy – you get a confirmation email straight away and the Peace Corps site accepts all major credit cards – regardless of country of origin.

Please give whatever you can.

Comforting Eloise during the Firework display made me realize how insanely blessed my life is. How easy it is. It will be decades before a child born in Mozambique will have the same ease handed to them that my Eloise has. My sister is trying to change that. Please help her.


  1. What an amazing thing your sister is doing! I plan to donate :)

  2. Thank you so so much! And please spread the word!!!

  3. It is a great thing, and it takes a special person to do it!

    Eloise is adorable :)

  4. You two are amazing - thank you, Lauren, for sharing Claire's story and your fireworks thoughts - this one really touched me, and I'm glad you wrote it. I'm all teary-eyed! =) xo