Posted tagged ‘solomon islands’

Ideas to help children and teens fundraise

April 8, 2014

For anyone lucky enough to be lucky, there’s sure to be a time when they’ll be asked to fundraise for a good cause. Should children be involved? And if that’s a yes, what makes it easier for teens and tots to raise money? For more ideas about thrifty, creative and eco-friendly ways to raise children follow this blog or get my book Homemade Kids, out of the library. This post is by Nicola Baird, also see

Lola is going to run the last 3 miles of London's Marathon for the fourth time.

Lola is going to run the last 3 miles of London’s Marathon for the fourth time. This time she’s using her run as an opportunity to raise funds to help all those affected by the Honiara flash floods which has killed around 20 people and left 1000s homeless in Solomon Islands Please donate here.

“It’s the only thing I can do to help” – Lola, 15, says ready to run and fundraise for people made homeless in Solomon Islands – a place she loves – after flash floods in the capital Honiara. See the link to the fundraising page here.

There’s no point raising money for a good cause unless like Lola you believe in that cause, or have some reason to support the person asking. That’s why school fundraising can be so successful – all those winter fairs, summer fetes, international days, fun runs and litter picks are shared by a large group of like-minded people.

Holiday fundraising ideas: selling bulbs and small plants.

Holiday fundraising ideas: selling bulbs and small plants.

And don’t forget the cake sales – which teaches cooking, budgeting and business basics.

It’s more challenging to fundraise for a friend in specific need – perhaps someone with a long-term illness or a particular project – because you have more to explain. Sometimes you have to explain what the charity does, and what you are organising (eg, a ceilidih for a gap year). Lots of young fundraisers find this selling element very hard. The trick is to work out what you want to raise, how you’d enjoy doing it and what time you’ve got.

Lola has been to Honiara, and watched in horror as Australian TV images showed us the wrecked bridges and houses floating into the sea.

Teens like Lola can work out their own fundraising challenges, but small children will need grown up help. There’s a plus – adults have to be hard-hearted to resist a primary school aged child saying they have given all their birthday money to helping a Thai baby elephant orphanage or to get a ping pong table and skateboard ramp added to their local park…

5 ideas to make fundraising fun and effective

Add a key so your lucky recipient knows which egg is chocolate. We had to use a few shop-bought chocolates intended for the easter egg hunt to make our gift look a bit more generous.

Fundraising ideas for Easter. Make your own easter eggs – or just pour melted chocolate into a blown hen’s egg. Possibly cup cakes sell better… Also try stalls selling homemade lemonade, big slices of cake or bagels stuffed with cream cheese (and maybe salmon).

  1. Do fundraising with a friend (or better still friends).
  2. See if you can think of an organisation or person who will match fund any donation you make. So if you want to raise money towards a wig of trendy hair for a teen with cancer, see if you can find someone to double whatever you raise at your Thursday cake sales. This might be a generous family member… it’s always worth asking.
  3. Make a sign to support your fundraiser! We love the Run Lola Run joke (it's a film...)

    Make a sign to support your fundraiser! We love the Run Lola Run joke opportunity (it’s a film…)

    Try and collect money by using justgiving or everyclick so you don’t actually have to deal with banking and accounting for the money as well. Plus anyone who is a tax payer can click the gift aid box which gives even more to charity (25p extra on every £1).

  4. Memorise a short sentence that explains what you are fundraising for. “We’re raising money to build a new art block, what can you give us?.”” I’m collecting pennies to give to XX Animal Shelter, what will you give?”. “I’m litter picking the beach/local park on Saturday – will you give  Surfers Against Sewage/your local park friends group a donation?
  5. Don’t worry if someone says no, that’s fine. But if they do offer cash or support in other ways, be sure to thank them.

A bit more about Solomon Islands
Back in the 1990s I lived in Honiara – a wonderful Pacific Islands city – for two years. Honiara is the capital of Solomon Islands. Myjob was to train journalists at Solomon Island Development Trust: every day I walked to and from work over the Matanikao Bridge, which was suddenly swept away by flash floods a few days ago.

The floods killed around 20 people and made 1,000s homeless. Their homes literally floated down the river and out to sea. It’s like the River Thames going crazy.

Living in Honiara changed me (as working overseas should). Most of all it showed me how to live life surrounded by children – not something that happens in the UK unless you are working in a nursery or school. Of course I talked about the place incessantly when I went home, and later on to my own children. After years of uming and ahing about when to re-visit my family spent two months in Honiara in 2011. Before that visit Lola, then 12, raised a little cash for equipment for students at the school she joined for a short time.

This time Lola’s running to help people in Solomon Islands who lost everything after freak flash floods.

For a tropical paradise Solomon Islands has had some bad luck. It was a British colony (OK that’s debatably good or bad); in the 19th century blackbirding was rife – meaning many men were forced to work as slave labour in the Queensland sugar cane fields. It became a missionary hot spot which led to the suppression of ancient animist cultures. And then it was used as the battlefield for the Japanese and Americans during World War Two. I don’t want to even think about the troubles which brought Guadalcanal to a near civil war only a few years back. But things have been improving for a while.

Lola and Nell with custom dancers from Lau, Malaita - they'll be dancing at the Pacific Arts Festival in July 2012, which will be held for the first time ever in Honiara.

Uk visitors Lola and Nell in Honiara 2011 at the sports ground with talented custom dancers from Lau, Malaita.

Famous Solomon Islands moments

  • For the Americans: during World War 2, JFK was famously rescued by Solomon Islanders after his boat was sunk by the Japanese. He scratched “help” on to a coconut which was then taken by an islander to the American base. This saved his life, and he went on to become President of the USA.
  • For book lovers: who love those amazing Pacific books –Solomon Time, The Bird Skinner, Pattern of Islands (not too far away geographically). Ditto Mr Pip.
  • For Royalists: Gary Barlow (Take That) went there in 2012 to make a very colourful video shown during the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. Not long after Prince William and Kate made a visit.
  • For film buffs: Thin Red Line – grim, gripping and set on Guadalcanal.

Over to you
I look forward to hearing what sort of ambitious fundraising you’ve done with your children. Do share.




Should kids do the washing up?

October 23, 2011

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This blog post is by Nicola Baird sharing ideas about thrifty, creative and eco-friendly ways to raise children. This post is about how much children should help at home. For more info about my book Homemade Kids with lots of ideas about parenting (and ways to get even very little children cooking), click here.

Should your children do the washing up? And would you pay them to do it?

At Mayhem Corner there are often dirty saucepans and dishes piled up waiting for a heroic washing up volunteer. Although I think families should share this task, or the cook shouldn’t have to do the plates too, there are some practical problems about getting the dishes done in a house of just two adults and two kids.

The washing up is such a pain if you homecook
Lola, 13, is tall enough and dextrous enough, and generous enough to wash up. But it’s rare I ask her. Now, if we had a washing -up machine the children would certainly be asked to alternate its loading and unloading. But as we don’t, the 20 minute plus job of washing up starts to take on a rather epic work load for a child. Nell, 10, would have to stand on a chair to do it (actually I’m sure she’d love this). And for both it would cut into their homework, music practice (respectively three and two instruments) and general downtime which enables them to read, play, look after the various pets and – vitally -choose to do things that they haven’t been told to do.

I’m a soft touch: I feel most kids are at school, indoors, for too many hours in the day anyway, so how can I add to this by chaining them to the kitchen sink? It’s the same with cooking. That takes me about an hour a day, and of course it’s a useful skill which should be learnt by a trusted grown-up’s side. But with the burden of homework at secondary school it would be hard for Lola to cook a meal regularly for the family – although she should be able to manage this during holidays and half-term.

Recently other mums told me their Year 7 and Year 8 daughters (approx 11-12) were great at making jam tarts with foraged blackberries, sponge and fairy cakes. And my Nell who is in Year 6 (of primary school) is cooking her way through a recipe book from the Lime Lounge cafe, a fabulous place we enjoyed during our Solomon Islands summer trip (see pic for Nell’s latest experiment with triple choc chip cookies). But all children need more than show-off baking skills…

Simple skills for a junior cook – peeling potatoes, operating the timer, all egg dishes (boiling, poaching, scrambling etc), pastry making, shopping for ingredients, looking in the fridge/larder and working out what can be cooked without having to go to the shops.

Simple dishes a 9-year-old + ought to be able to create (perhaps with help over cutting, when the oven is used or boiling water is involved) – roasting veg/meat/fish; baked potatoes; all egg dishes; toast with a topping; other bread meals (pizza, bruschetta); dips like guacamole, tziki/raita; puddings (eg, cakes/crumble/ anything with apples).

If children don’t learn when they are young it’s very hard for them when they leave home, go to university or set up their own families. Even now I’m convinced my partner is not very adept at cooking because he never had to do it when he was a child – the kitchen was mum’s job then.  But as my girls go through secondary school with an increasing pile of nightly homework, now we’re back at the time constrictions!

Do you have any ideas how to teach or tempt your kids into the kitchen to do useful cooking and washing-up tasks other than just bake teatime treats?And would you pay them to do this? I feel helping should always be a voluntary choice (albeit a 3-line one that has to be done!), so refuse to pay cash for household chores. But I know lots of parents who do, and of course it could be seen as quite a good way to offer pocket money…

Coconut Wireless on tour

October 8, 2011

Jerry reading Coconut Wireless.

This is a late posted blog by Nicola Baird about travel and homeschooling in Solomon Islands.

The first stars were just settling into a squid-ink dark sky when my friend Navie whispered across the fish and rice-laden table that her son Charlie had missed half a day of school to read Coconut Wireless. I met Charlie when he was a tiddly baby, and suddenly he’s the first Solomon Islander to read my book AND love it enough to ignore what he should be doing in a bid to get to the end. It was a fabulous feeling.

Lola, 13, was shocked. I’m always telling her to stop reading – you know, when she’s laying the table or eating, or talking to me or doing her homework – convinced I’m the only mother in the world who tries to limit their kids’ reading. “Missing school is really bad,” she told me, “what’s happened to you?” But in a country like Solomon Islands where reading material is limited, seeing a teenager settle down with a book is one of the most unlikely sites you’ll see.

Today (August) at Nguvia Community High School, about 30 minutes past Henderson airport, I gave a talk about Coconut Wireless to Form 3s after an invitation from their teacher Jamal Ed Namo. During the talk I hinted that a key part of the novel’s action happens on a bus just near their school.

The moment the session was finished Jamal’s colleague, Jerry Urahora, grabbed the copy of Coconut Wireless and started reading it (see the pic).

Book promo in Solomon Star and the Island Sun.

I can’t tell you how good this makes me feel. I made Coconut Wireless into an ebook so it was downloadable for free until 22 September 2011 from (use the code ZV47Q).

If you are reading this and are a Solomon Islander contact me for a free e-copy of the novel Coconut Wireless.

The next step is to turn my book into a play and let the students (or SEI group at Solomon Islands Development Trust) have a go transforming it into something that might make learning English much more fun because it’s all about them.

Back to reality

September 1, 2011

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This blog is temporarily about travel and homeschooling.

Years ago – the sort of time scale (20 years?) that I left between leaving the Solomons and revisiting them – Soul2Soul was the most listened to dance band in London. It’s not island reggae, but I quickly began to enjoy their music, and especially “Back to life, back to reality…” It’s an anthem with meaning!

Today the travelling ended. The passports are locked up. There are no plane tickets or plans or reservation vouchers to guard.

In short, we are back home with milk bottles on the doorstep and a lawn to mow. Everyone is beaming – even now with jet lag when it’s 6pm but feels like 11pm. Actually I’m not beaming, I’d have been v happy to stay in the Solomons for months, no years, longer. I miss staying with ML and her lovely family, the beautiful food and those blue skies.

London at 5.26am when we landed was grey and a tad cold.

Back home I’ve tackled the jobs that build up after three months away – the mountain of post especially. I’ve also done the family washing (suds’ law), mended the wooden dugong and helped Nell sand her carved dolphin (woodwork), buried poor Snowflake our pet mouse who, once dead, was placed in the freezer and fortunately didn’t get defrosted in the new microwave. The microwave is not technically new – it’s from a neighbour who gave it to our housesitter Christina, and I guess we should play with it to see how useful it is, or not. I’ve also picked up the dog from kennels where he ended up for the final week of his staycation and amply reapplied red mite barrier to the hen house in a bid to tackle these horrible pests before the hens arrive home. Then, in case the pesky critters had crawled on to me I removed all my clothing and did another load of laundry…

So busy at home, though upsettingly I’ve found out that my uni teaching hours have been halved.

Reality is like London weather (I’m thinking it never rains, but it pours). What I have to do is ignore all the inconveniences and find some good tricks to recall all the happinesses and lessons learnt over the past three months travelling. In short: smile more, listen more, do more and realise how lucky it is to be born with a British passport, in Britain.

Back to the here and now
Here’s what the girls are feeling as they settle back to breakfasts of butter, granary grains and lashings of marmite!

NELL: “I don’t want to tell you what I learnt because you’ll think I was really stupid. But… I can now picture the globe and all the countries and think about their different climates and realities. I learnt that in the Solomons the sky is much clearer, that might either be because of less pollution or where it is positioned.

“I found that it is a lot easier to breathe in a hotter place if you have asthma which is incredibly annoying as I do not like hot climates – they are too hot. In fact I spent about half an hour in a cool house in Singapore which had fake rain. I loved it, I could have stayed there for one whole day. I learnt that the countries all around the world have different currencies that can be more or less than English pounds, so if you visit a different country it is quite hard to know what you are paying – whether it is a rip off or not – unless you have taken time to learn about the exchange rates. I also found out that England is one of the well-off countries compared to the Solomons and other small Pacific islands because there they still have houses made of leaves, without proper windows (but that’s because of the climate). No one complained about being poor. People make their own houses which is extremely impressive. And I think a TV would be very expensive, and not everybody has one. But in England if you don’t have a TV or computer it would seem quite weird.

“I was really excited when we got on the plane to London, even though it took 13 hours from Singapore. But it actually seemed pretty quick because about 10 hours of it I was asleep! When the plane arrived at Heathrow airport I was really excited. It seemed really strange seeing all the lights of London compared to Honiara, which is about the same size as a tiny town in England which hardly anybody knows about. Anyone from there who has come to London would probably think it is one of the biggest cities they’d ever seen, and they’d be right. the UK has 60 million citizens, whereas Australia which could cover most of Europe only holds 20 million people. It’s really strange because you’d think they could fit a lot more people in. I think I know why – it’s because most of Australia is uninhabitable, for example we spent three days crossing the Nullabor Plain on a train which is incredible. We boarded in Perth, I felt like we should have got on the train in China or Russia or somewhere just from the amount of time it took.”

LOLA: “Going around the world I’ve learnt so many things. Like people are so kind and I’ve learnt a different language. I’ve learnt about different animals, and volcanoes. It’s hard not to when you see one. I’ve seen many things on my travels but I’ve come to realise that none of them hold the same place in my heart as my home. That sounds really cheesy! I think it will change me for good, I think I’m more relaxed but I think I’d like to put more effort into the things that I do, because I see now I’m so lucky to live in England and get these experiences and opportunities in things like music, riding. The classrooms in my school are so different to the Solomons. In the Solomon schools everything is bare. There are no posters, no carpets, no proper desks. Half the kids didn’t seem to even have books. And the books in the library at one of the schools I visited had all been eaten by white ants! People say state schools aren’t nearly as good as private schools, but I think state schools in London have so much more stuff, like computers and posters and paint on the walls, than the private school we went to in the Solomons. However the kids there really concentrate and learn so much better because they know it’s the only chance they will get. In England you have to keep going to school until you are 16, but in the Solomons you can get failed from school at 11; 13; 14; 15 and 16. To have a chance in life it helps to stay at school until 16!”

Going for a paddle

August 28, 2011

Lola sets off with Patrick for the best possible kayak tour (aka Natural Wander) around Sydney Harbour.

This blog is temporarily about travel and homeschooling.

The Solomons may be coincidence capital, but it also leads to the most amazing opportunities too. A few weeks ago I got an email from Patrick who had read Coconut Wireless on his kindle. He’d visited the Solomons to backpack back in the 1980s and lucky for me really enjoyed the book. He also noticed some typos, so contacted me – and then ended his email saying if I was ever in Sydney then come for a paddle around Sydney Harbour as he runs a kayak business early mornings and weekends.

Obviously he didn’t expect me to say I’d be there in a fortnight, especially as he thought I lived in London… Anyway we met up, had a good story about his adventures in the Solomons. I hope he writes it all up one day, because there’s the time he nearly jumped on to a shark. The back of the truck full of dolphins. The introduction to canoes and kayaks in the Roviana lagoon. The huge amounts of WW2 weaponry he found on beaches – Japanese on this one, US on the one opposite, etc, etc.

Today Lola and I went with Patrick, and his friend John, from the base in Lavendar Bay for a fantastic paddle. If you are ever in Sydney, please treat yourself to this as it was fantastic. Try Natural Wanders, or call 0427 225 072.

Patrick knows so much about the coastline so on the three-hour trip we were treated to all sorts of anecdotes about Sydney Harbour Bridge, the times when the AMP small building was the tallest in Sydney and who lives where along the most amazing waterfront houses – not just celebs, but the governor general ((Marie Bashir) and the PM when she’s in Sydney (Julia Gillard).

Lola enjoyed trying to catch jellyfish, spotting a cave dwelling and posing for cool kayak photos opposite Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge too. ” It was amazing because you could see all the things you couldn’t normally see, and it was a bit scarey because of all the waves.”

It was an incredible adventure. Being on the water in Sydney is easy to organise – there are ferries to all sorts of places – but to be able to do the paddling yourself, that’s fantastic. So here’s a big thank you to Patrick, and anyone who has ever been inspired by people or places – especially in Solomon Islands – to follow their dreams.

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