Time to get stitching for #imapiece

Jigsaw piece in my office - to remind me that I am a piece of the solution!

Please help this campaign by making a pretty jigsaw piece yourself! (instructions here)

Happy New Year!  Lets make it a really positive one - OK!

Top of my hit list for 2013 is being better at time management - and also continuing being part of a craft campaign to end world hunger! I like to think big because I hate that 260 kids die needlessly of malnutrition every hour, why is that? - you can help end it too!

Why not add kicking the butt out of world hunger to your 2013 hit list too (just by doing what you already love, being a crafter and a maker!) - make a little jigsaw piece for our Craftivist art installation - it will cost you fabric, time and a big stamp to post it to our HQ!  And you will have played a part in getting hunger top of world leaders agenda for 2013! Really... - pls read on if you like the sound of that :)

I want to encourage my craft blogging friends (aka you lovely lot) to please use your amazing craft blogs big, small, and brand new, your enormous creativity and your on and offline influence, to spread the word about this excellent jigsaw campaign and installation that will be sure to attract attention!

A blog post or even a little stitch in (I would be very impressed!) will really help, it's not that scary to host one, trust me I did it and it was cool and I felt really proud to boot!

Here is a little video of my own #imapiece event in my house - I really need some lessons on talking to camera and not saying eeermmm! You needn't video your event! just ask a few friends around to help stitch jigsaw pieces for the installation - enjoy it :)

More about the I'm a piece jigsaw campaign

I wanted to write a post about why I'm backing this unique campaign - it's quite a long read, but it's hard to adhere to a word count when you are passionate to get the right message across.  If you make it through please leave a comment and let me know your thoughts :)

This is me and my pal Lauren aka Deadly Knitshade with a bunch of clever kids in Indonesia who are all set for University in a year or so - they have amazing futures ahead of them, they are very lucky kids - I asked where they would like to study - "London, Oxford or Cambridge" was the overwhelming reply, and even "we will be living the dream then" by a few! I was beaming with pride, Britain is such a great place to live - although I do love the fact in Beneh Meriah they have chemistry outside sitting under the shade of a tree! :)

The big hope is that more kids all over the world will finish school and get off to University or even just get enough of an education to find a sustainable career and support and care about their local communities - this is what drives economies, clever and enthusiastic kids like these above. This is how developing countries stop having to rely on aid from rest of the world.

The two girls on the left were also our volunteer translators whilst we were in Indonesia - impressive at just 16! They were from coffee farming families. But before we can even imagine these kids being the norm, you have to consider that a third of the kids in Indonesia are still classified as malnourished.

We visited Beneh Meriah in Indonesia to see a number of really successful projects based around coffee farming, education, cooking classes and ensuring that children under 5 are getting really nutritious food and their parents understand how important it is.

These women above are all volunteers who help local mothers to check the growth of their children, they have been trained to do this by Save the Children.  It was just like a UK health clinic, but in fact much more friendly - such an amazing community spirit - they got their info from friends, not from Mumsnet!

The focus of STC in Beneh Meriah is to train people to train others, a sustainable solution to ensure the knowledge is transferred and people feel ownership of the projects - it's their hard work that is making the difference to their communities, the INGO (International National Government Organisation, like Save the Children) is just there as a catalyst, to get the ball rolling, with most projects we saw fully sustainable after just 3 years.

Trainers even go to new districts to share their knowledge, it really is an effective model as the new district trusts them, they can see the real results and are prepared to get involved and allow people to help them help themselves...  and so it continues.

Sarah founder of the Craftivist Collective at a goat farm in Beneh Meriah...  10 goats and free training on looking after goats provided by Save the Children, the goat shed has to be built by the community to show they are ready for the commitment.  The goat dung goes to fertilise the coffee and the chilli's...  the goats get sold for meat in the local livestock market.

In the case of the projects we visited, Save the Children often acted as a middle man between the donors, usually in this instance, big coffee companies like Starbucks or Green Mountain, and the government, (which isn't trusted by locals necessarily as with most governments!) and the communities, it gets people together, conversations started and trust built.

Save the Children in Beneh Meriah also helps to champion the trainers that excel, we met a midwife (the lady in the orange scarf) who had been introduced to the President of Indonesia as a direct result of her good work. The Save the Children team were so proud of her and her commitment to training other women, it felt just like we had met a national celebrity when they introduced her having told us about the amazing work she had done in the community. 

Children all over the world need the best possible start, thinking long term over a generation is what pulls a country out of poverty.

To address malnutrition and it's effects, communities need well managed, small scale projects that address the root causes - there are many countries in a a more dire state than Indonesia, with conflicts, droughts and devastating endemic diseases all hampering the education and potential of children.  There needs to be a way in for ngo's like Save the Children to help, to use their excellent communication skills to gain trust and to be impartial in delicate political situations.

We need the world influencers who will be attending this years G8 and the planned World Hunger Summit of 2013 to FULLY commit to implementing projects like those we saw from Save the Children, across the world - putting  food and education  at the forefront.  Finding ways to get aid in and to set up sustainable projects.

Fab well fed kids and a fab STC Beneh Meriah Team, in full support of our Jigsaw Campaign - they really got it "

"Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever has"

You can't effectively educate hungry kids - I know this just from being a mother! Kids concentration levels drop when they are hungry - even if they do make it to school they are not at 100% or even close if they are hungry.

In the UK local charity groups which provide Breakfast clubs have done amazing things for getting kids to gain more from their time at school - just to get them to concentrate for a few hours!

  • Food and Education are intrinsically linked. 
  • Education and Economies are linked
  • Sort out hunger - Sort out economies.

If only it was that simple...  it's not quite...    it's horrifically complex and mind bending as well as heart wrenching as you wade through all the issues.

Understanding that there is no one solution fits all is vital for progress - every area of every country faces different causes for malnutrition.  Even kids in the UK are malnourished...  WHY!!!?

We need to get to the root causes.  We need the experts to devote time to finding solutions, our MP's need to push for this, to understand that hunger is a root cause of much of the misery of the world and much of the misery in the world causes hunger...  

This is awesome Brighton MP Caroline Lucas getting on board with the #imapiece project - how fantastic to have her support!  Read more over on Frans blog post - "Making embroidery political"  

MPs care about votes -  they make policies based on what we're saying we want.

Why I support the giving of  international aid from the UK

I've seen this post on Facebook a few times and it makes me cringe...  it's a view many people have about giving international aid and I thought I'd  try and give my point of view because I know lots of people in my Facebook stream feel this way (maybe you do too?)

I believe  we should be supporting Save the Children's ask of the Conservatives and David Cameron in 2013 to ring fence  0.7% of our GNI (all the UK spend, so less than 1p per pound)  to international aid. (currently we give around 0.5%)

International aid is not just good for the countries who receive it, it helps us too! We aren't throwing money away, we're investing money in the world.

By improving social development we create trading opportunities which is good for our economy, it strengthens our relationships with other countries and also reduces issues of global insecurity, such as conflicts which can cost us and the world a great deal of money.

In some countries where conflicts are an issue and governments are unable or unwilling to provide, aid from the UK, implemented by ngo's like Save the Children can support education and give children growing up not only a basic education but hope for the future, a chance for peace when the next generation steps up - this can reduce our need for peace keeping, reduce our defence budget.

By giving international aid and being proud to do so, we also become an influencer in international forums - We really are Great Britain when we step up and understand that international aid has a positive effect on both our economy and our influence as a global leader, not to mention saving millions of lives as a result.

Investing in the infrastructure and especially helping developing countries address the big issues such as climate change, will save us money in the future - we need to think long term and not short term about the money we invest in the rest of the world. We are global citizens, actions on the other side of the world affect us, whether or not we ever leave our home town. When it comes to the world, we are all 'on it' together.

However we do need our world leaders to be a united front and 2013 is a great year to get some resolutions and practical solutions to these issues whilst we are hosting the G8 summit.

Invest in communities, make it sustainable and we could eventually eradicate the need for aid in some countries.

#imapiece - are you?

That's what the #imapiece project is about - telling people on a small scale through the amazing power of craft, so that we may influence our MP's and of course our Prime Minister into making the world hunger summit a world changing meeting.  

MP's need something tangible to remember our message, our jigsaw pieces work wonderfully!  AND they will look amazing when they are all put together! 100's of hours of work, 100's of peoples opinions and some amazingly provocative messages.  

Wouldn't it be good if you saw the installation in the paper and on 100's of blog posts and you could say - that's my jigsaw piece, I stitched that! I'm a piece of the solution!

A proud moment, this photo is one to show the grand children! - Lauren and me outside 10 Downing street with a piece of the puzzle stitched by me!

I want to look back on 2013 in years to come (such an important political year because of the G8 and Hunger Summit) and be sure that I did my part to make the current government know that tackling world hunger is something I personally am passionate about - I'm hoping to meet my MP soon and give him a jigsaw piece that I have hand stitched for him to keep and reflect upon.

I've become a craftivist in order to outwardly demonstrate this - not shouty and loud, just using this blog (which receives over a 1000 hits a day) and my creativity (my stitching is improving!) as a way of getting this message out.

Please use your blogs and creativity to help too if you can!

I hope a few of you will be keen to get stitching jigsaw pieces right away.  The campaign ends in just 2 months, February 28th 2013!

NB. 260 kids die every hour across the world from malnutrition related causes (yep, re read that, every hour!) It can only be a positive thing to encourage people you know on and offline to see how they too can play an important part in putting a stop to this!

Please share our message on your own networks and please help by making a jigsaw piece!

I'll be retweeting your posts and pictures of your jigsaw pieces as much as I can to my twitter followers and also creating a blog post here in February featuring my favourite jigsaw pieces and links back to the bloggers responsible!  So get stitching and get sharing and lets make sure hunger is not shoved off the agenda this year!