Wednesday, 22 December 2010

The solidarity gestures that came from France ...

I  am touched  by the latest events and must  therefore confess I  now know I had  the privilege of meeting some very special people whilst recently travelling to Turkey with Christian (Marie Helène and Noelle). Christian I knew I could count on to help me out with the project of Cape Verde, (as he always has in the past) but these new "trip companions" I shared some of my experiences in Africa with, have now come forward with additional contributions. 

I have today received a postal pack  from Marie Helène with 6 thoroughly sellected games and puzzles for the children of Calheta (each of them allowing them to further develop a wide variety of skills, amongst which are quick thinking,  reasoning and association of ideas).

The postal parcel (Left) and its contents (Right).

Noelle has also let me know today that she wants to pay for the schol fees of one of the children of Calheta, as well as anything that child might need, and because so far there has been no definite decision as to whether Erica will be "looked after" by Sandra's mother I have decided that the best solution is to have Noele become Erica's "godmother". These are the things I have taken the liberty to buy  and sellect for her, trusting Noelle will agree with my choice.

A two piece outfit (a striped shirt and blue trousers), a book to colour and put stickers on, a decorated pencil, as well as a soft toy cat provided by the Gymn and a little bag provided by Cristina Igreja (Left) for Erica (Right).

May they be blessed (... I am sure they will).

Friday, 17 December 2010

Christmas presents for the children of Calheta ... (cont.)

Some more presents have been handed out to me for the children of Calheta. The book on pirates with stickers for Eduardo is adequate enough for him, taking into account the fact that Cape Verde was several times invaded by these "predators".

Maria João, his "godmother" will be sending money as well (in accordance with a previous agreement), to pay for his new uniform (which has already been bought) and for his gymn outfit and half of the second-hand bicycle to be bought locally (which I will pay half of).

Lurdes has bought (for her "protegée" Diva) a two piece outfit (a pair of violet colour trousers and a colourful T-shirt); a  vanilla scented baby doll; a reading book with stickers; a decorated pencil and a small pencil case.

One of Eduardo's presents (Left). Diva's presents (Right).


Thursday, 16 December 2010

The shipping of the three cardboard boxes to Calheta ... or gestures of solidarity (still) ...

The three cardboard boxes with second-hand clothes and toys have been "shipped" today, because of the generosity of someone, whom the children of Calheta will  be forever thankful to.

The storing of the boxes at the company warehouse prior to being shipped.

This has come to me as a relief, not only because I know these clothes will be adequate and fairly distributed to those who need the most, but also because after a few futile attempts at shipping them off, I finally came across a "special" person who helped me out, without expecting anything in return.

Because genuine solidarity gestures are becoming rare, I would like to mention two sisters-in-law residing in Moscavide (Manuela Reduto and Cristina Marques) who having heard there was an 11 year old girl in need of urgent support (Artemisa), joined forces to help her  in what I would consider one of the promptest responses I have ever seen. This little girl has now got herself two "godmothers".

Salomé had been wanting a "protegé" for a few days, but the moment she saw the photo of a particular little boy in need, fell for his tender look and  also in a very prompt way decided to become his "godmother".

Salomé (Right) and "her" little boy (Left).

Marie Helène (the "godmother" of Joceline Elena) having known that most of the games and Art material I use with the children of Calheta are from Djeco (a French Company), bought me a few  children' s games ... and I have today been told they are already coming my way (sent by postal service from France).

As if the the "Christmas" presents I have received lately (in all of these solidarity gestures) were not enough, yesterday night, as I and Carla (Rosana's "godmother") were training at the gymn, the "coach trainers" having collected a few bags of games and toys to hand out to schools and associations, decided to hand me out two of those for the children of Calheta.

We could barely hold them, let alone walk to my place carrying them, but in a further generous gesture one of the coach trainers (Claudia) drove by and offered to help us.

What can I say?...
... I am touched by this sequence of "gestures" ... , but  above all I am immensely grateful ...

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

"1974" on stage at the National Theatre of Dona Maria II, in Lisbon ...

The main objective of this play is to take us through the major periods of the Portuguese history, focussing on the Portuguese identity (what is left of it) and having the 1974 April revolution as a reference - the dictatorship prior to it and the years that were to follow.

The issue was aproached in a majestic theatrical way, whose importance lies on multiple scenic changes, in which eleven actors impersonate various characters throughout the long period of history, not depending on the word to convey the behavioural changes, but rather using their bodies ... the music, the stage space ... the subtleties of the dialogues or even the absence of speech ...

To single out an actor or a scene may be difficult because Meridional theatre company has once more shown us that the acting and scene sequencing were as cohesive as one would expect  from a successful company.

Many of those watching the play were old enough to have "experienced" the "before and after", though a few seemed fairly young to have been born by 1974 and consequently "exposed" to what was just taught at school or eventually read in books.

In the words of Miguel Seabra, who got up this play, "1974 is a fable on the short-living utopia, the story of a noble opportunity and what we have made out of it or have not yet been able to".

Which better opportunity to watch this play !!!... now ... that the "Portuguese identity" seems to be at stake ...

Stage Management and Light design - Miguel Seabra
Artistic Assistance - Jean Paul Buchieri
Theatrical Representation - Francisco Luis Parreira
Stage setting - Marta Carreiras
Original Music - José Mário Branco

Cast of Actors
Carla Galvão
Cláudia Andrade
David Pereira Bastos
Emanuel Arada
Filipe Costa
Inês Lua
Inês Mariana Moitas
João Melo
Miguel Damião
Rui M. Silva
Susana Madeira

A postal parcel on its way to Cape Verde ...

I have yesterday sent a 6 kg. postal parcel to Calheta, which will hopefully reach Cape Verde in two weeks and whose contents will be dealt with in the most appropriate way (by my local friend Sibylle), once they are  "new" second-hand children and adult clothes.

I must confess the postal fee was expensive (more expensive than I had expected) ... but soon after I "recovered" from the shock of having to pay so much for "so little" ... I realised that it was in no way "that little" ... it was the precious contribution of  a few colleagues of mine ... which will make a few (many children and people in need) happy over the New Year ...

They will at least know that someone ... somewhere ... is thinking about them ... and knows their immediate needs do not allow them to buy a new dress or a new blouse ... (though intimately they would like to wear some).

May they feel as happy as I did in sending them these "little" presents ...

Sunday, 12 December 2010

More Christmas presents for the children of Calheta ...

I have received the Christmas presents for Rosana and most of the presents for Diva, as in accordance to my advice regarding what should be bought  and the limit of things I should (presumably) be able to carry  (for the 21 girls and boys) in my luggage.

Because Joceline Elena's "Godmother", Marie Helène lives in France, I have taken the liberty to buy the presents on her behalf, trusting she will agree with my taste.  Marie Helène, one of my "companions" in the Turkish circuit, decided to suport my project the moment I spoke about it, having got herself a "protegée" and offering herself to help me in anything I might need, including travelling with me to Cape Verde sometime. 

An orange pullover; a book with stickers; a baby doll; a decorated pencil and a pencil case for Joceline Elena bought by me on Marie Helène's behalf (Left). A colourful dress; a book with stickers; a baby doll; a decorated pencil and a pencil case bought by Carla Brigida for her "protegée"  Rosana (Right).

The whole idea is for all of the children to get similar presents, so as to make them feel they are being treated "equally" ..., though there may be some slight differences, depending on their needs and the things they have already been given before (such as dolls). Eduardo will only get a book with stickers, as he has been paid his uniform and will be given the necessary money for the gymn outfit and to buy a second-hand bicycle locally, as in compliance with a previous "agreement".

Some of the dresses  for the children won't  have to be bought, as I was given some "new" second-hand clothes which might be handed out, depending on their sizes. 

The number of "Godmothers to be" keeps on growing, which leads me to believe that in spite of the "problematic" situation we are facing in Portugal nowadays, people keep on having "solidarity gestures"...

An angel of every possible colour ...

The cover of "An angel just like me"

I was "working on" Mary Hoffman's book " An angel just like me" I intend to read to the children in Cape Verde (during the next workshop) and came across some questions I would possibly never have thought of nor prompted, but which the main character of the book (a young black kid) so naturally has, whilst decorating the  Christmas tree - " Why do angels look like girls? Can't boys be angels? Why are they always pink? Aren't there black angels?" ...

I don't think the children in Calheta will consider prompting these, because I believe very few have ever decorated Christmas trees ... but I would like them to know that angels may be of every possible colour ...  All we have to do is to "create" them to look the way we want them to look ... and why not "like ourselves" ... 

Two angels of a series of four different "coloured" angels in one of the streets of Lisbon.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Another postcrossing card which will not have the right to be on any wall ...

This is another postcrossing card which has not been registered, inspite of having been travelling for  46 days to the UK.

It is  obviously clear it will not be registered, once the people it was addressed to have not reponded to my suggestion of sending them another one.


What is  particularly sad about this whole process of sending cards to randomly sellected people is the fact that we as consciencious senders do not only spend money but (furthermore) try hard to send cards which people we are sending them to are potentially interested in, as in accordance with either their profiles or expressed requests ... without any acknowledgement on their part. 

This particular card depicting the Lisbon trams will not make it to the wall of postcrossing, nor will have the faint possibility of being favourited ... but will (like its predecessors) have the right to a (well deserved) reference in my blog ... 


Thursday, 9 December 2010

Christmas presents for the children of Calheta, Cape Verde

I shall be flying to Cape Verde next March to carry out another workshop during the Carnival holidays (estimated departure on the 4th and return on the 13th of March 2011), which is when the children and I shall be celebrating "Christmas" (with the handing out of the presents).

Those who are paying for the school fees of the 21 children in need have a rare opportunity to send something for their "protegées", though I have had to define a weight and size limit in regards to what I shall be able to carry (on their behalf), which comes down to very few things - clothes, books and toys  (1 per child, with a slight exception in what concerns the most recent girls within this group of "protected" children, as well as the parents and siblings of my "protegée" Leinira, whom I have grown fond of and for whom there will be an additional souvenir).

Leinira's family

These are some of the things I have been given today and which have been added to the ones I had already bought or which had been given to me some time ago. I seem to be as excited as the average children on Christmas' eve, because I know they will simply love the things I'll be bringing in for them.

A pink outfit of T-shirt/shorts bought by Sandra Sousa for her "protegée" Nessinha, as well as a small backpack toy given by Christina Igreja (Left).

A white and purple T-shirt/shorts; vanilla scented baby doll; reading/ colouring  book with stickers; little school box and a decorated pencil bought by Carlos Bicho and his family for their "protegée" Ivanilde Elena (Right).

A school bag; a pair of tenis shoes and a reading book with stickers bought by myself for my "protegée Leinira (Left).
A pink T-shirt and shorts bought by Carla Oliveira for her her "protegée " Leidina, as well as two children books offered by the responsible of one of the best known bookshops in Lisbon (Right).

Carla Oliveira has given me some money to keep on providing for something little Leidina might need, so as Sandra to ensure Nessinha's kindergarten fees till next August. Carlos Bicho and I have also put in some money to provide for our "protegées" needs, though their school fees and  school material have already been paid for.

What is 20 Euros?  For us in Europe it may be little, but it does make a difference in these children's lives ...

I once more feel grateful for having friends and colleagues who believe we might be able to make a difference ...

Monday, 6 December 2010

The children of Calheta de São Miguel, Cape Verde

It is difficult not to think about the obstacles some of these children have to overcome to have a reasonable life (if ever they manage to) ... from helping their parents in the fields or anything that sometimes requires physical strength they sometimes do not have to having to make it through  the school activities without any material, this is what "normal" life to them means. 

They struggle with difficulties of all sorts, some of which we cannot even think of, and yet ... they smile ... and (many of them) believe they will become "somebody" when they grow older ... "somebody" in the sense of not having to go through so many difficulties and above all "somebody" to help their mothers have a better life as well. They mostly come from single-parent families and their mothers and grand-mothers are the reference they have.  

Four more girls are going to be helped. 7 year old Ivanilde Elena has become Carlos and his family's "protegée", whilst little  2 year old Odete will be "taken care of" by Gabriela's sister. Ivanilde is hearing impaired but does what every other child of her age would do and Odete has had a rather "troubled" childhood.

Ivanilde (Left) and Odete with her mother (Right)

Carlos Bicho

Little  2 year old Aniza and 9 year old Erica, though in different "problematic" situations (the smallest one unaware of her young mother's serious health problem) are both in need of help and have already a few people wanting to become their "godmothers".

I am once again impressed by people's generosity and the truth is that many more people are becoming aware that one can do a lot without having to spend much, if the money is thoroughly channelled to the basic needs, one of those is  being a better education.

 At this particular moment in time, there are more people potentially interested in  helping these children than the number of children on the list.

Aniza with her sister (Left) and Erica (Right).

I am very proud and extremely thankful to all of these people who have been helping me fulfill the dreams of these children - to become "somebody".

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Latest news on Calheta de São Miguel, Cape Verde

I haven't yet been able to ship the clothes and toys collected for the children of Calheta because of a minor (logistical) problem, which I hope to be able to solve soon, though I have been thinking about Calheta more than ever.

A recent appeal to help some local children (whose photos I am enclosing) received a prompt response on the part of two friends of mine - Marie Helène, who shall be providing for the needs of one of the girls and Carla Brígida, who not only decided to take on the responsabilities to financially provide for 10 year old Rosana, but also took on the task of spreading the word  among some of her friends (Paula Martins, Rosário, Lurdes and Luis).

The girl on the left has become Paula Martins' protegée, whilst Diva and Joceline Elena (picture on the right hand side) have become Lurdes and Marie Helène's protegées respectively.

Paula Martins (Left) and Lurdes (Right).

Carla has become Rosário's protegée.  The interesting story is that Rosário has an adopted child of Cape Verdian origin (Nair) and without any hesitation decided to provide for this 10 year old girl. They have both seen Carla's photo  and are thrilled to have added another element to their family.

Rosário and her adopted child Nair (Left) and "their" protegée Carla (Right).

Carla Brígida (Left) and her protegée Rosana (Right).

Luis, his wife and daughter will be providing for the needs of a boy, but are determined to provide me with something very valuable towards the further development of the community of Calheta, which is something I'll talk about in due time, though.

All I can think of, right now, is to thank these "marvellous " people who have let me know they "are" with me in this project.

May they be blessed for being thoroughly engaged in helping these children.