Monday, 10 June 2013


I don't really know how to start talking about the last week. Perhaps it is best if I just begin with a picture.

Yes, that is 45,000 people in Hyde Park this Saturday making an enormous noise about the scandal of 1 in 8 people going to bed hungry each day in the world. This was how I ended my week.

The event came hot on the heels of another trip to London to catch up with a truly inspiring woman, Donata Kalunga. I've blogged about Donata before, that in fact was how my invitation from the lovely Build ItInternational found its way to me, but to see her in London on my home turf was tremendously exciting. We listened to Zambian music from the London African Gospel Choir (patting ourselves on the back for remembering some of the words!) and heard Donata's hugely inspiring story again.
The lady herself!
Coming to the UK was the first time Donata had ever left Zambia. She had never even seen the sea before and was overwhelmed with joy to be able to paddle in the waves. When I asked her how she was finding England she said 'it is like heaven!' and then squeezed me tight squealing 'my grandchild!' (she has well and truly adopted me!) She also went to see Mamma Mia in the West End and reportedly laughed for the entire thing, no doubt utterly bemused!
Seeing Donata again was my first dose of optimism for the week. Donata saw a problem in her neighbourhood and got to work fixing it, 'Disabled children are not being educated, well then I'll open a school'. No money, no problem. All these things that might reasonably be described as obstacles Donata, and many others in Zambia, described again and again as mere challenges. Something temporary to be overcome.

And all this in an environment where there are so many challenges that it must surely seem impossible. Yet, optimism they have and they have it in spades. On the bus back to Oxford the sun was going down and I said to my (long suffering!) husband, 'That's how I want to be'. God help me, one day perhaps.

Saturday, then, was another experiment in optimism but this time global optimism. I've been keeping up with the IF campaign but I have to say that on my way to the rally, partly through end of term tiredness and partly through lack of awareness, I wondered if the aims of the movement really could be achieved. Can we really see an end to hunger around the world? Sometimes I think we are so used to living with the man made, global disaster that is poverty in this world of wealth that we are numb to it. I am numb to it. In the face of such overwhelming need we freeze like a rabbit in headlights and fall into pessimism.
If this is you then my goodness get yourself to a rally! Feel the atmosphere, see the thousands of people that believe change is possible, bring your kids, bring your granny and just be encouraged. In my own life I live by the maxim that nothing ever gets done through pessimism. Game changers are people who see opportunities and possibilities and grab them. Who strive forwards for change and forget the voices that say it can't be done. Being at IF gave me a sense of global optimism in action. Nothing will change unless we believe it will. People who believe in change make change happen.

I don't know about you but I'm ready for that. Ready for it in my own life, as Donata has so ably shown me, and ready for it in the world. IF is going full steam ahead, there is so much more to do. As for me I'm going to be an optimist and be part of the solution, fancy it?

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