It’s that time of year. We’re getting some freak sunshine but essentially the little ones are back to school, the mornings are nippy and there are leaves crunching under our feet. Soon it’ll be pumpkins and bonfires but right now it’s Harvest festivals galore.
We used to love those at school. The same old hymns each year, big presentations of fruit and veg at the front of the hall and your mum scrabbling around for tins and packets to send in for the collection. What we at Children on the Edge love even more, is the celebration of harvest at our project in Jinja, Uganda, because it’s providing so much more than just food.
Food is a wonderful thing.. and the gardens we have as part of the project could pack out a harvest hamper very nicely. In fact with two rainy seasons here, we get two harvests! In the centre of a Soweto slum, our gardens are currently growing 12 different crops including cabbages, spinach, tomatoes, onions, carrots, green peppers, maize, beans, sweet potatoes and aubergines.
60% of this glorious food goes straight to our Child Friendly Space. The majority of the 140 children here are from child or grandparent headed households and highly vulnerable to chronic malnutrition. This food contributes to the nutritious breakfast and lunch that they now receive at the Centre each day. Another 20% is sold at the local market to create income for educational resources.
The remaining 20% of the harvest goes to the 25 community members who plant, tend and harvest the crops. They not only get to take it home for their families, but throughout the process they are provided with full training so that they can create their own crops in the future. Every 6 months they rotate with a new group of 25 people who benefit from the food and training.
Specialist training is given not only for those with small gardens and backyard but for those with no land at all. ‘Sack gardening’ techniques enable food growing in maize sacks, cans and old pots. Walking around Soweto, as more people are being resourced with this training, more ‘sack garden’ corners are springing to life. Not only this, but as the gardens pop up, the breweries are closing.
Before the project started the alcohol breweries were Soweto’s only source of income. Belching acrid smoke into the air and causing streams of black toxic sludge between the homes of the children we work with, the breweries are a destructive force. Children are at increased risk of inebriated men and prostitution and the more dependence there is on the breweries, the less investment goes into growing food.
Since our project has been set up, the food has been growing, the people have been gaining training and half of these breweries have been shut down. This is cause for a real harvest celebration. ‘The seed time and the harvest, our life, our health our food’.
Please feel free to find out more about the project in Uganda and consider donating.
As part of Montezuma's upcoming Charity Challenge week for Children on the Edge, children between the ages of 4 and 12 are being invited to 'Design a pumpkin' with the chance of winning their very own chocolate pumpkin with their design on it!
The two winning entries will be presented with their pumpkins at Montezuma's Chichester store after designs are judged by a Montezuma’s panel.
All completed A4 entries should be handed in to any Montezuma's store or the child's school office marked: 'Children on the Edge Pumpkin'.
Designs must be handed in by Sunday 22nd September 2013. Please include a name and telephone number with each entry.
Download your entry form here! Forms with the pumpkin outline may be copied for additional entries.You can be as creative and colourful as you like, but Montezuma’s do not use colourings and therefore the designs will be interpreted in chocolate as accurately as possible!
We get a lot of incredible people doing incredible things for us here at Children on the Edge, but even we were knocked off our spinny office chairs when we got an e-mail from Mr Seb Zealand saying he had just set out on a sponsored bike ride for our work, from his home town in Yorkshire to ..... Sydney Australia.
"The more I thought about it” says Seb, “the more it seemed a good idea. I had some money saved, I told work I was leaving and before I knew it, I was setting off for Australia. No training, not a lot of planning but I felt confident. I’d pick it up as I went along. Mr Zealand has always wanted to travel and he’s really looking forward to experiencing different cultures, eating new foods and meeting new people.
Why Children on the Edge?
“I chose Children on the Edge because I wanted to do something for less privileged children. My childhood was filled with an abundance of opportunities and lots of happy memories and I just felt that now it was about time I gave something back. That way I could travel the world but also try to benefit someone else as well. There were plenty of children's charities to chose from but the bit on your website about returning childhoods to children really caught my eye. "
The route? (You might need a cuppa and a map to plot this out).
Seb lays it out like this: "The plan is to cycle from my home in Yorkshire, down to London and then on to Dover. Then it’s a three month trip across Europe, crossing France, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and Austria, going down the coast through Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Albania. Finally I will cross Macedonia and Bulgaria before arriving in Turkey. Following the Black sea coast line I will travel through Turkey continuing on into Georgia and Azerbaijan. Then it is a trip across the Caspian Sea and into Kazakhstan following that I travel through Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan finally arriving in China. From China I travel through Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Malaysia before finishing the Asian leg of my trip in Singapore. From there I fly to Perth in Australia and finish my trip by cycling the coastal road all the way to Sydney. If all goes to plan it is a journey that will take me through 24 countries, 3 continents and 15,000 miles of road."
Onto the adventure....
By last week Seb has already made it to Budapest and travelled a stupendous 2,154 miles. His sister Victoria is heading out to meet him for his birthday this weekend and will be bringing us some more news, but in the meantime you can follow Seb’s adventure by going to his blog and you can sponsor him through is Justgiving page.
We’d like to say a hearty Happy Birthday to Sebastian and a huge thank you for choosing us to raise money for through this unforgettable adventure. Watch this space for more crazy bike guy updates!