This is a very special Gallery : One which will mark a moment in time, in honour of Save the Children who is working with mothers and children in one of the most poverty stricken areas of Bangladesh, and of #blogladesh – the inspired writers who are going out there to experience what they are doing first hand, with a view to spreading the word by ‘telling it like it is’. All pictures posted on this week’s feature were taken on the same day – the day the #blogladesh girls got on the plane : Sunday, 29th August, 2009.
My blog is about triangles and the more I write, the more of them are emerging than I could possibly have imagined when I first started posting.
This week I discovered another in the picture I had chosen for The Gallery – one which, takes me right ‘back to basics’ in three ways:
Firstly, there was the tableau itself, which I came across the other morning as I walked in to the kitchen to make breakfast. I turned around and there it was, staring at me in full anticipation of my response. If it could have taken my picture in series the results would have made great fodder for Eadweard Muybridge… facial expressions flitting from total disbelief, to confusion, through to a huge, fat, bemused grin!
<< Mami >>
…. with a great big love-heart across it. Or at least, that is what I saw. Of course it wasn’t, it was simply a 3yo’s scribble on a green blackboard, but it stopped me in my tracks. Later, I wrote out the word underneath in my own printed handwriting and L was ecstatic – recognising the similarity and pleading that that had been his intention all along … to write his Mama’s name. For me…. Something so simple and yes, completely irrational, had almost made my heart burst. I had no words.
Secondly, there is the link with the latest Gallery theme: the fact that Josie, Eva and Sian are out in Bangladesh with Save the Children this week to help raise awareness of the Millennium Development Goals prior to September’s UN Summit and are living what I truly believe will be a life-changing experience for them, irrespective of whether they have been there before or not. I spent a little time in India a few years ago and returned having discovered a part of my soul I had not previously known existed. I did not go to Bangladesh, but am sure the similarities will mark our three friends in no less the same way as India marked me back then. Without wishing to be clichéd or in the least bit autocratic, I can only say that taking one little mini-step into such unfamiliar territory taught me a new respect for what I have; it turned my world upside down and, in very little time indeed, kipped my priorities, my ambitions for a future career, and put pay to my perspectives on lifestyle and what we need to have fun. In brief, it confirmed my own values but taught me with one swift right-hook punch just how incredibly small the world is. It brought India home with me in the same way as it had crashed Africa into my life the year before.
Threading this back to my first point, the thing that struck me more than anything else in India, was the people: the people make the continent. The values of the people I met left me dumb-struck – many had nothing material to speak of and were living in the most astounding poverty I had ever seen and yet they had a passion for life which I had only ever experienced once before in Uganda … they lived for their families and to serve their Gods as best and as profoundly as they could, within their means. That was all.
<< Mami >>
Back in Europe, the last three years have bounced me from what had been a largely comfortable lifestyle, to wondering how I’m going to pay next month’s rent, but coming face to face with one single word on a board, that, in reality, wasn’t even a word, but a symbol, I suddenly realised how much I do have and of what value. However much I worry and however stressful I allow my own life to be as a result, this whole miniscule snap-shot of time we are offered is really about what we ‘actually’ need. What I ‘actually’ need, is my son and a roof over our head, with a little money to feed and clothe us. If I had all of that, it would still be more than many of the millions living on a continent not that far away, who manage each day quite literally from hand to mouth. How arrogant of me to possibly think I have it tough.
So this brings me to my third point – the last corner of the triangle for this post:
As I walked away from the ‘word’ on the board to continue laying out our cornflakes, it struck me how simple some things are … and how much more complicated we make our lives for ourselves and for our children. My child had, totally unintentionally drawn something which had halted me in more than just my morning routine – it had screamed a message which I would carry with me in my mind for many, many hours – and yet look at it: just a random symbol .. written in chalk … on a blackboard (albeit green); the most primitive of materials had been used by a totally innocent and oblivious child, but had had an astounding impact on me emotionally and also psychologically. I could only shake my head at the irony of it … suddenly kicked back into touch, this little incident had caused me to reboot; it had reset my perspectives and had reminded me of how much I could actually live without and, although I have not implemented ‘minimalism’ in my life in the way I could and probably should have done since I returned from Asia, there is not a day goes by when I do not look at what I have and wonder about the transience of it … the fact that it could be taken away in an instant but that I would more than likely just get over it and carry on. But the most important thing in all of that, despite my ‘western-style struggle’, is the thundering reminder that I already have all the things which are the most important to me in the world right here, right now : motherhood, my values and an intrinsic will to survive. Getting back to basics, what can be greater than all of that!
The best of luck, courage and inspiration to you girls. Take good care out there.
If you want to help make a difference right now! and support the work that Save the Children is doing, then you could help by signing the Press for Change petition either on the Facebook app or at the Save the Children site. 100,000 signatures are needed, so please, tweet it, mention it to your friends, your colleagues, your family. Every signature makes a difference – particularly yours!
This post was written for this week’s The Gallery, hosted as ever by the lovely Tara over at Sticky Fingers. If you’ve made it this far, why not pop on over and check out the other entries listed under the Linkything from Wednesday!