Not long before my daughter was born, I purchased a little photo frame from a market stall. It wasn’t anything special, but it carried a message that I really liked: “Whenever a child is born, the world lights up with possibilities”.
Recently, whilst walking through our peaceful forest with George, this message sprung back to my mind. Such simple, wonderful words, but are they always true? Are there real opportunities for the countless children who are born in the wrong place, at the wrong time or to the wrong parents? What hope is there for them? What can we do to make their lives better?
Today, these questions will be on everyone’s lips and none of us will be able to turn our eyes away from the uncomfortable reality of how some of the most innocent live on this planet. In the 21st century. This is what Red Nose Day – or Comic Relief – is all about:
Publicising the sad stories of less fortunate children in Africa and the UK and turning their tears into smiles. Employing the art of comedy, in all its forms, to raise money for charity. Coming together one day a year to try to change things. In a world where the rich-beyond-measure reward themselves with millions of pounds they don’t really need, it’s up to the rest of us to make a difference. It always has been. And we’ve proved, year after year, that there is enough compassion in our hearts to find the means to make this difference.
Tonight my family and I will be watching the Red Nose Day fund-raising programme on TV. We will laugh at the gags and gasp at the acts of bravery put together by celebrities and common people alike in their attempt to raise awareness and money. We will cry at the sad stories of children working in slums for a penny a day, dying of hunger or sleeping in the street. We will be moved by the desperation of these children’s parents and their genuine gratitude for any act of kindness they are shown. We will cuddle up together and be thankful for our privileged life. But, more importantly, we’ll press the ‘Donate’ button or make a call.
This is one of those days when I wish I was rich. Not for my own gratification – we’ve got everything we need – but to be able to help and share. But, since this is real life, I’m not in that position and have to settle for a modest donation. I have to be honest, I used to wonder whether our humble contribution would really really make a difference. Surely, a few pounds can’t go that far. Well, you’d be surprised! They say that my £5 can save 4 children from dying of malaria. It’s only a tiny amount and a small gesture, with an amazing result. Imagine what can be achieved with a hundred, a thousand or a million times that!
I no longer feel isolated and powerless. We’re only weak as individuals, but we’re powerful together. I strongly believe that and days like today prove me right. The social movements in the Middle East do, too, but this is not the time nor the place to go into that.
Times are hard for everybody, but the truth is that there’s always someone out there who is less fortunate, poorer or in a more desperate situation than us. Today is about opening our hearts to them, listening to their muffled voices and helping them however we can. Last year we calculated that we spent more on butterfly netting to protect our cabbages than the price of a mosquito net which would save a child from becoming infected with malaria. This makes me think that we can all find the means, however small, to show that we care. All we need to do is sacrifice something which, come to think of it, we may not need in the first place, like our butterfly netting or your bottle of wine.
So put on a red T-shirt, do someting funny and join in the charity express. You may wake up a happier person tomorrow.
If you’d like to find out more about Red Nose Day and what some of the celebrities involved in the fund-raising events have to say about it, click here.