Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Our Children's Children

Our Children’s Children is a website set up by the charity Westhill Endowment. It provides support and information about projects which help children throughout the world to develop their creative talents, build relationships and provide them with skills and values that will stand them in good stead for the rest of their lives.

We are proud to announce that the World In Need art classes in Kabul is one of the featured projects on their website:

The art classes are offered to children at our Day Care Centre in Kabul, and are supervised by a professional art teacher. The classes are not just educational, but therapeutic. Many of the children have been through traumatic experiences – some have lost parents and other family members to Taliban brutality or to the violence that stalks Kabul’s streets.

All are prisoners of poverty, and the paintings they create at the centre enable the children to help their family’s finances, as World In need import the paintings to the UK, where they are sold. Half the money raised by the sales goes towards the costs of running the Day Care Centre, and the other half is given to the child.

Under the Taliban, paintings were seen as idolatrous and the children could not have developed their undoubted talents. It is wonderful to watch them flourish now, creating beautiful works and discovering, through art, just how much they have to offer.

One of the students proved to be good enough that she is now at University, studying fine art.

If you would like to know more about our art project, or would be interested in buying a painting, please phone Mark at World In Need on 01892 669834, or email

Friday, 16 December 2011

Women's Rights - a long way to go.

During the reign of the Taliban, women were not classed as second class citizens. They were actually non-citizens. They had no rights at all. They were not allowed to work, even if that meant they would starve, not allowed an education, not even allowed out unless escorted by a man.

Since the fall of that most intolerant of regimes ten years ago, the new authorities in Afghanistan have made great effort to make theirs a more equal society. Girls now go to school, and even University, women have careers and are seen in the media, there are even women representatives in the Government.

But that doesn’t mean the struggle for equality is anywhere near won.

This fact was highlighted when the world’s media highlighted the case of Gulnaz, an Afghan woman who was jailed for twelve years for “Adultery by force”, that is, for being raped.

Rape is a heinous crime. It is a crime of violence committed by inadequate men who don’t have the ability to control themselves and behave like human beings.

It is NEVER the victim’s fault, and any society that attaches responsibility for the attack to the injured party has no reason to feel proud of itself.

Following international attention, Gulnaz was freed and given a presidential pardon. In itself, this was an insult, implying as it does that she had done anything for which she needed to be pardoned. She is now also under pressure to marry her attacker, making his actions legal and acceptable. This will, she is told, restore her honour, and help make peace between his family and hers.

How many of us would find this suggestion tolerable?

Gulnaz is not the only woman to be in this predicament in Afghanistan. Her imprisonment was ended because of the international publicity she received. Many other women languish behind bars, unseen and unremarked, their only crime to have caught the eye of an aggressor. They all deserve their reputations restored and their blamelessness acknowledged.
Until all these women are free, surely all of us are imprisoned.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Spreading Christmas

Times have been hard for all of us in the past few months. Money is tighter than most of us remember it ever having been before, and this has made us all a bit more careful.

Gone are the days when we would splash the cash on presents our friends and families didn't really want.

When finances are precarious, we don't want to buy something people will put away in a drawer and forget, or something they'll pretend to like to spare our feelings.

And we definitely don't want to buy meaningless tat.

We want our money to stretch as far as it can do, and we want the gifts we buy to have value and meaning that will last way beyond the big day.

Which is where World In Need's Alternative Christmas Gift List can help. Through it you can buy a present for your friend that will make a real difference to the lives of people in the developing world.

For example, a goat given to a family in Uganda will give a supply of milk and cheese, a chicken in Kenya will provide eggs for food and for sale, while a blanket will keep children warm through the bitterly cold Afghan winters and a bicycle allows people to find work as couriers, delivery drivers, even taxis.

We will send you a hand crafted card to give to your friend, so they’ll know exactly what was given in their name.

You can find out more about the Alternative Christmas Gifts by calling our office on 01892 669834 or emailing

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

A future for Afghanistan?

This week, there is an international summit on Afghanistan which is being held in the German city of Bonn. The conference aims to secure Afghanistan’s future now that foreign military forces are planning to withdraw from the country.

Ten years after the overthrow of the Taliban regime, the people of Afghanistan still live with uncertainty. Even though they are no longer in power, the Taliban are still a force to be reckoned with and could undermine the country’s stability unless the international community continues to support the new regime. As President Karzai said this week, Afghanistan’s “young democracy remains fragile”.

Afghanistan is a land riven with problems. Fighting and violence are everyday occurrences. A trip to the local market takes people into a dangerous world of roadside bombs and suicide attackers. Going to school, or taking on a career makes targets of girls and women whose only crime is to be female and intelligent.

As is always the case in areas of conflict, poverty is rife. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita in Afghanistan is just £329 per year, which compares to the UK’s figure of £25,342.

For many families, such poverty affects all aspects of life. Unable to afford adequate housing, whole families live in one room, and many are malnourished. Medical care is denied those who cannot pay for it and simple curable diseases cause suffering, permanent disability and death. Even such things as warm blankets are denied the very poorest, which leaves them exposed to the harsh winter temperatures.

Children cannot attend school, and the lack of education condemns them to repeat the lifestyle that blights their parents.

World In Need works in Kabul, helping to build a future for the people of Afghanistan. Through our child and family sponsorships programmes we enable children to go to school, giving them hope of a brighter future. Our Children’s Day Care Centre provides a warm, safe haven where children can play, or take extra lessons to catch up on school work missed because of the problems the people face. Some children have learned to paint, and the work they produce is good enough that we can sell it, providing a little income to help their families. One girl who attended the Centre has now gone on to study fine art at University.

For the politicians in Bonn, an agreement at the conference guaranteeing peace and stability would mean approbation and kudos.

For those people helped by World In Need, such an agreement would mean very, very much more.

It will mean a future.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Thirty years of AIDS

In 1981, the world was shocked and horrified to learn a new virus had been diagnosed. There was no cure. The virus worked on the human body by destroying its ability to fight off infection. Slowly, sufferers got weaker, their bodies wracked with pain, wasting away until they died.

The virus is called the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, or HIV, and the illness it causes is Acquired Immuno Deficency Syndrome – AIDS.

Thirty years on, there is still no cure, although treatments have alleviated some of the sufferings and helped prolong both life and its quality for many sufferers, especially in the prosperous countries of the world. However, those who live in the developing world, whose finances won’t allow them to pay for the necessary drugs, continue to suffer.

Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the hardest hit areas of the world, with more than 24 million people living with HIV. That is 6.1% of the population, which compares to just an infection rate in North America, Western and Central Europe of just 0.5%.

With no cure, prevention is the main weapon in the fight against the virus, yet across the world, less than one in five people at risk of infection has access to basic prevention services. Only one in eight people who need to be tested for the virus have the opportunity for those tests.

The spread of the virus has been exacerbated by myth and rumour, as well as by ignorance. In certain countries, people believed that having sex with virgins would cure them, which led to the abuse of young girls, who were then infected themselves.

Infected men passed it on to their wives, who passed it on to babies in pregnancy or through breast feeding, and another generation was blighted.

Because it became known as a sexually transmitted disease, it was shrouded in shame and secrecy. Sufferers could lose jobs, livelihoods and status because of the virus, so many tell no-one they are infected, which inevitably leads to further infections.

In future, we hope, research will lead to successful treatments and cures. In the meantime, we do what we can to halt the spread of the virus. World In Need works to educate people, so that the myths can be dispelled and ignorance countered.

Our sponsorship programme spreads education, which empowers vulnerable people to protect themselves, reducing their susceptibility to the false beliefs and superstitions surrounding HIV.

Sponsored children are less vulnerable too, to lifestyles which endanger them. They don’t have to resort to begging and prostitution in order to survive, and are less likely to fall prey to those who would use and abuse them. They grow into adults who can make informed decisions which protect them, in areas such as family planning.

HIV and AIDS are curses in our modern world. Together, we can work to halt their spread and build a future of freedom for those who are now at risk from them.

If you’d like to know more about helping us in the fight for the future of the children of the world, why not contact us at

Wednesday, 30 November 2011


 One of the main facets of World In Need is our child sponsorship programme. Through this we find people who will help support children in the developing world, giving them a start in life, and opportunities for the future they would otherwise be denied.

Sheetal Wajid hopes we will find a sponsor for her. At fourteen years old, Sheetal is on the verge of womanhood, and sponsorship now could make a huge difference to her adult life.

An intelligent young lady, Sheetal has been attending St Francis Girls’ High School, a Roman Catholic school in Rawalpindi, where her favourite subjects are English, Science, History and Religion. However, her family is very poor and her father is no longer able to pay the school fees for her, putting her education in jeopardy.

A sponsor would solve the problem, allowing Sheetal to finish her studies and fulfil her true potential.

Sheetal’s father helps World In Need in Islamabad, trying to alleviate the problems of the homeless, poor and needy of his community. It can be a tough job, and it is made harder when he is worried about meeting the needs of his own children. By finding a sponsor for Sheetal, we can relieve him of some of the burden.

As Sheetal’s sponsor, you would receive regular updates on her: a report on her school progress and correspondence from her, as well as the priceless gift of knowing you’re making a difference, not just in one young life, but to the future of an entire community.

Sponsoring a child like Sheetal costs £20 a month, although we do recognise that times are hard, and sponsors have to budget, like everyone else. So it is possible to join with one or two others and sponsor a child between you, thus splitting the cost and giving a child a future without breaking your own bank.

If you’d like to know more about child sponsorship – or family sponsorship – you can speak to Anne or Magda on 01892 669875. They’ll happily answer your questions and, if you do decide to sponsor a child, they can guide you through and help you choose the child that is just right for you.

A lifetime is built on the foundations of childhood. Why not find out about helping us make those foundations firm today?

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

A sudden death in the family

What would you do if you were starving? How far would you go to put food into your mouth? Would you cheat? Steal?

What if your children were crying with hunger and there was no other way to help them?

In Northern Uganda last week, a young woman tried to fend for herself and her children, aged 7, 5, 3 and six months by stealing cassava from a garden.

Cassava is a plant from which we, in the developed world, get tapioca, but in places like Northern Uganda it is a vital staple, producing more food energy per unit of land than any other crop. Its leaves are eaten as a vegetable, providing vitamins and protein, and the tuber is like a nutritionally superior potato. All in all, a plant like this would be of great value to a desperate mother and her children.

Unfortunately, she was caught. And in a place where food is at a premium and many are dying daily of starvation and malnutrition, her defence met with little sympathy. Those who caught her meted out swift and exacting justice: they beat her until she was dead.

Her young children were left with no-one to care for them except their grandmother who is 87 years old and blind. In a world where, too often, only the strong survive, these children will be at a disadvantage before the struggle even begins. The hopelessness moves on to a new generation.

Our representative in Northern Uganda, George Amoli, will be doing what he can to keep an eye on this family. He’ll try, as far as he can, to ensure they don’t miss out when food is distributed. Hopefully, we can help by providing the children with sponsors, people who will pledge a small amount of money monthly.

Sponsored children are fed and clothed, given access to medical care and are able to go to school, thereby getting the education and qualifications they need to end the cycle of poverty.

£22 a month doesn’t seem a lot to most people in the developed world. In Northern Uganda, it can literally be the difference between life and death.

If you do not wish to pledge a regular amount but would like to help this family and others who, like them, have been affected by the worst drought in East Africa in 60 years, you can donate via World In Need’s drought relief fund at

Together, we can make a difference.