People who make a difference – Craft Aid UK

Here in the UK, we’re all used to reading about the great work charities do, and many of us also donate money every month to various organisations so that they can continue to help people all over the world. Recently I’ve read reports and heard conversations about charity fatigue. We’ve probably all felt it – I for one try and avoid those people on the streets who just want a moment of your time so they can convince you to support the charity they’re working for. There’s nothing wrong with what they’re doing, but I already give money to as many charities as I feel able to, and I feel guilty when I talk to these people and I can’t do anything more. Sometimes you just need to meet someone who can make it all seem real again.

A few years ago I met an inspirational woman who is doing something really positive to help street children in Uganda, among other projects. Lara has so much energy it’s unbelievable. She has a more-than-full time job and, with her husband David, runs Craft Aid UK in her ‘spare’ time (www.craftaiduk.com). I first met Lara at Ruislip Duck Pond market (www.duckpondmarket.com), where she sells lovely necklaces, baskets, animals and various other craft items made in Uganda to help finance the charity. Needless to say, quite a few of these items now grace my flat 🙂

Lara (on the left) with me at my wedding reception

Lara (left) with me at my wedding reception

Craft Aid works in tandem with a project that runs a home for street children in Kampala, supplying vital materials (mosquito nets, mattresses and clothing), and also providing grants. Paying the children’s school fees is also a hugely important part of the work they do, and others can get involved by sponsoring a child. Some sponsors have actually travelled over and met the child they sponsor – making it all real and personal. Surely an amazingly worthwhile trip.

Handcrafted animals

In addition to their work in Kampala, Craft Aid also work in a village with the amazing name of Kammengo-Ffunvu (THAT confused the spellcheck!), about 90 minutes’ drive from Kampala. In 2011 the charity installed a water supply in the village and, following their fundraising climb of Kilimanjaro in 2013, a multipurpose building has now been erected.

Please go to the website and read all about the charity and projects, and come and visit Lara and her products at one of the events that they attend!

Beautiful birds

Beautiful birds

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My second home

In January 2006 I went over to Nepal for a 10-day holiday and loved it all so much that I went back to live there, moving back to London in June 2007. I now visit at least once a year, and Nepal has become a second home to me. It’s just one of those places that gets under your skin.

Ason market

Ason market in the heart of Kathmandu

Friends who have come with me have liked it, but it hasn’t had the same effect on them. The only person who had a similar reaction was my mum, and she now comes over with me on every trip. We also run a small business bringing over craft items, which we then (try and!) sell at local markets over here. Our main, and favourite, market is the lovely Duck Pond (www.duckpondmarket.com) – we have been at the Ruislip version since the second market, and we now also have a stall at Pinner.

I am off back to Nepal on Sunday for 18 days (not like I’m counting or anything!), and am also fitting in a 5-day trip to Bhutan. It’s only 45 minutes on an amazingly scenic plane trip. Hopefully I will get to see Everest again too 🙂

It will be our first trip back since the earthquake in April 2015 so it’s going to be good to see friends again. We had a panicky few days trying to locate people, but Facebook worked wonderfully well, allowing people to tag other people who they knew were okay. Most of our friends were incredibly lucky, but we do know that others weren’t. It’s going to be great, but it’s also going to be sad. I’m just glad we have the luxury of being able to go back.

Fishtail mountain in Pokhara

Fishtail mountain in Pokhara