My Mum has told me of times in England when we kids were small, when she would eat bread and jam so that there was more meat and vegetables for us two kids and Dad. I believe her. I know she used to get boils on her neck and I guess that might be why. It's a sacrifice a mother makes without thinking about the cost to herself. I can't imagine how life must have been for her then. I have never felt like I went without anything. Oh, sure, there have been times when I really felt put out because I didn't have designer jeans or the latest gizmo...or that we didn't go on holidays to Singapore like the doctor's daughter did. At least the doctor sent his kids to a regular high school or I might not have known them! I used to go horse riding with them sometimes. Yes, I had a horse as a teenager in Australia...Mum and Dad moved us over here when I was just six years old. Dad's parents followed soon after and as we two were the only grandchildren, we were just a bit spoiled and I did have a horse or two over the years. How very, very lucky I was.
I don't know if I realised back then just how lucky. I would see World Vision ads on tv about the poor and starving people in Africa and it would make me feel sick to the stomach. I would be put off my dinner if I had to look at it. I would turn away or move to another room. I would cover my face with my hands or a cushion so I wouldn't have to look. I think it should make us sick to the stomach to see poor and starving people. It should make us want to do something about it, especially when we have so much. I have always been chubby. I have so much; they have so little. How does that work? But the thing is that I didn't make that connection back then as a kid. The images just turned my stomach. That was all. I've always been on the side of the 'underdog' but I don't know if I've managed to DO much to help. Just knowing is only the start really isn't it. Awareness is the beginning. It's easy to think the problem is so big that there's nothing I can do to make a difference, but a teacher in Bundaberg in Queensland, Cathy Booth, saw the plight of homeless children in Kenya and decided to DO something about it. I take my hat off to her and thank her for giving me and my family and friends the opportunity to do something here tonight to help. Perhaps it will lead to something more. Everything you do is a step in life to something that comes next.
I borrowed a cook book from the library...Cooking the East African Way. We've had a look at it to choose some dishes to cook for tonight's event. David was astounded and said it was the worst cook book he'd ever seen. There aren't many recipes in it. There is nothing glamorous or exciting. It is basic. The ingredients are few and unexciting. It is an honest book. It reflects the culture of East Africa and uses ingredients that would be found there. I'll be making sweet vermicelli with raisins, pilau and groundnut sauce. I think it will be good for us to appreciate the simplicity of food from Kenya. Of course, like so many other places, there has been influence from other cultures, especially India, with pilau, samosas and curries. It wonder if it would be possible to find a culture of cooking anywhere now that is 'pure' for surely travellers have for generations been leaving a little of their own culture wherever they go. Just a thought. The thing about the cook book discussion is just that it brought the realisation that life there is very different to what we are used to here. To what we take so easily for granted. We already knew that, but it was a different angle. The food is simple. But still, only the lucky ones eat so well. This I know. We all know.
Well, I suppose I had better get busy and get things ready for tonight. Just now the sun is shining and perhaps it will dry things out enough for the celebration to spill happily onto the deck outside where guests can enjoy watching the wallabies nibbling the grass and a million stars spread on a velvet sky and reflected on the bay. If not, we'll be close and cosy inside. I hope we'll all be remembering just how well off we are. I'm happy that our little gathering will help Cathy and her team in the work they're doing far away on the other side of the world. I'm glad we can help. I wonder what else I can do. Happy Birthday Mum. I have a Mum. I am so blessed. We have cupcakes. We are so blessed. Count your blessings lovely people. If you are reading this, how lucky you are. You can read. You have access to a computer or Iphone...and so much more.
Wishing you love and light, peace and the seed of hope. May you be inspired to make a difference in some small or large way today. If you have nothing else to give, then give a smile or a hug. Find someone worse off than yourself and do a little something to help. It will feel good. I promise. That's the funny thing about giving. It blesses the giver.
Here's a snap from our gathering last night. Everyone brought food along to share for our dinner party. We played some silly games, gave away lots of goodies as prizes, ate lots of delicious food including cheese platters, quiche, curry, salad, chicken, polenta, passion-fruit flummery, bread pudding and cheesecake. We sang happy birthday to my Mum, Dad sang a little song, we hugged friends and family and made some new friends too. We had visitors from Victoria and my aunt was the longest distance from home, visiting from the UK. We raised just over $400 for the Umoja Orphanage so it was a winner night all round. Thanks to everyone for coming!