Sunday, 21 April 2019

Spring is here!

 Spring in 2019!
Let's bring cheer
In Spring 'tis true, like thee my heart does dance away,
And for golden flowers and yet another floral year I do pray.
For some time now the tight buds they have been appearing,
And Primula with Pansies planted made them ever so cheering.

One day ago the first hyacinths they did poke out their noses,
Not far from the bush with just one of last year's roses.
Scarlet Camelia for some time now hath shown its face,
At this time of year 'tis the pride of the garden's grace!
Has been ever so cold o'er here these last few days,
And the thoughts of Spring to say the least have been a haze.
Threats of amber warnings are posted all around,
And the spring blooms have no room frozen in the ground.

Siberia is coming and shall be here say they for yet a while,
And no doubt its bitter cold blasts promises 'twill be quite a trial.
But one thing's for sure as it proves to us year upon year.
The buds, Spring Flowers and Gentle Green Leaves will still appear!

International Volunteer Day

VSO International Volunteer Day

Mary and I were asked to feature in VSO's Social Media Campaign for the International Volunteer Day. The photos and posters below appeared on Twitter, Facebook and the VSO website. We're not sure where they got "45 years of marriage" from or "Avid Walkers" but it's all roughly accurate.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Gatagara Music Appeal Photos

HVP Gatagara Music Appeal

Once again we wish to thank all of our friends and family who contributed to this appeal at the school for visually impaired in Rwamagana, Rwanda which we had visited many times during our VSO placement.

Brother Gregory, the Headteacher, sent us these photographs of the instruments purchased with the money we had donated. We have no doubt, knowing the school well, that they will be put to good use.

If you want to see information about the original appeal, click HERE

Way of the Roses

Way of the Roses

It never occurred to me that I would be able to cycle from one coast to another until my sister Irene and her partner Alasdair suggested a year ago that we do the Way of the Roses from Lancashire's west coast town of Morecambe to Yorkshire's east coast town of Bridlington.

The route is 170 miles coast to coast and we clocked up 197 miles with additional sightseeing, getting to the start from Arnside and going off route for accommodation. Added to the ten miles or so of walking we did over the six days, it was quite an achievement. We were lucky with the weather. It was perfect cycling conditions, not too hot and no rain. At the end of it we felt invigorated and elated.

Getting the bike "up north"
Anticipating the start
The Route from Morecambe
Checking progress and route on the phone
Well deserved rest!
Arrival in Bridlington

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Gatagara Music Appeal

HVP Gatagara Music Appeal

Thanks to all of our family and friends who donated to the HVP Gatagara Music Project for the Blind and Visually Impaired Children in Rwamagana.

We donated 759,898 Rwandan Francs (£700 in total). 

This is an email from Emmanuel NTAKIRUTIMANA, our friend in Rwanda and a teacher in the school

"Hello! I am very sorry to delay to reply to your email I had a problem with network and we were very busy because of closing the second term!
But sincerely we thanked you very much of your good will to help the children of Rwanda. We ensure you that we will buy these materials and send  photos of them. In general the school is well with new buildings like chapel refectory and rehabilitation of some houses.soon I hope to send some photos of them once my camera will be repaired.
And my family is now 3 in one."

Below are a couple of emails from the Headteacher Brother Gregory.....

"Dear friends of the HVP / Rwamagana School
With this letter, I want to thank you for your support and love you have towards students and staff at our school.  You have shown us a love without measure; we recognized this and will make good use of these instruments. We accept to send pictures to you after the instruments have been bought, however the distance we would like to celebrate with you the inaugural day. Children will be highly pleased with this gift and will make as good use.

Deeply thank you from the heart

Brother Gregory Mubale Rushoboza"

"Subject: thanks giving
I have the honor to inform you that we have received the money and we are very very thankful to you and all people who were involved in the collection of this good help to our school development. I received: 759898 rwandan franc; thanks
In fact you are contributing to the realization of the noble objectives that has set our School of blind and visually impaired to develop kids talents and leisure,
 I unsure you that we will make good use of gift and will send you report of what and how the money was used. I wish you come and see how much we are happy and thankful of the gift.
Please accept, Sir, Madam Expression of my deep respect"

Here are a few photographs of the school...
Outside the school
Entrance to the main hall where we did our workshops
The main school Hall
Courtyard of the school with graves of Brothers killed in Genocide
The school's mission
Wood burning ovens for school meals
Braille Machines in Classrooms
New Dormitory Blocks
This is the original appeal.....

Hi everyone,

Hope you are all well. Excuse us for putting our begging hats on. When we were in Rwanda in 2011, it was quite challenging at first getting used to the way things worked especially as we were the only "muzungus" in town at the time. The Headteacher (Peter) and two of the staff  (Eric and Emmanuel) were particularly helpful to us at the beginning and throughout our stay. They have remained firm friends ever since.

The School is HVP Gatagara in Rwamagana where we lived for the year. It is a school for the visual impaired and is residential as so many of these children do not survive well in the community or indeed are rejected because of their disability. We had many links with the school and delivered many of our workshops to Headteachers there. Many of the children preferred to be in school rather than home as they felt secure and safe.

They have asked us to help with a music project to provide musical instruments and some musical equipment. The total amount they are trying to raise is 6 million Rwanda Francs. Sounds like a lot but it's around £6,000. Of course, we are not trying to raise all of that as they will have other sponsors but we thought we would try to do our bit and maybe pay for some of the musical instruments which would be more manageable.

Once whilst we were there, they put on a performance for us and a few others. First of all is was a Goal Ball Game where 5 players on each side, totally blindfolded for equality as they have varying levels of sight, threw themselves around a pitch with very wide goals playing with a ball with a bell in it so they could track it. They were the area champions. We subsequently saw the same game on the Paralympics. You can watch the video on YouTube and you may recognise Mary in the background. I was the photographer. You will see the Goal Ball Players being entertained by the other students.

​Watch Video HERE​

You'll find a copy of the original project documents HERE

Now for the hard bit because we're not used to asking for money and will fully understand if you are unable to support this as we all have our favourite charities. However, any small amount would be gratefully appreciated and added to the total we send. 

Best wishes to all and thanks in advance,

Stephen and Mary

Monday, 6 April 2015

VSO at The Education Show

VSO Recruitment

Mary and I were invited to spend two days at the National Education Show in Nottingham where we helped out on the VSO stand and were guest speakers about our experiences in Guyana and Rwanda.