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


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