There was an interesting article published in the Guardian today saying that 300 million children live in areas of extreme pollution.
It made me think about the little things I saw in Shanghai last week about how pollution is a part of a school’s daily life in China.
On the front door every day is placed an update about the atmosphere that day with a green/amber/red rating and any additional measures that need to be taken. As you can see here this was a green day – lots of rain that week so the air was quite clear.
The school has ‘pollution days’ where it is not possible for children to attend in the same way that in the UK we sometimes have ‘snow days’ and the school has to close.
In the grounds there is a large white tented structure which is used on amber days to allow the pupils access to outdoors whilst still being protected.
It was a little strange to see people wearing masks around school and in workshops but it’s just an accepted fact of life.
I’ve been for a beautiful autumnal walk this morning at my local RSPB and it did make me think how much we actually take for granted.
Eleanor Roosevelt said ‘Do one thing every day that scares you’, well last week I was terrified. The offer of presenting at The Festival of Education, Wellington College, Shanghai was too good an opportunity to miss. BUT and it’s a big but, I’ve never actually flown anywhere by myself, I’ve never visited China and as you know i’m just an ordinary person ‘A granny from Barnsley with a camera’ so why would anyone want to listen to me?
I DID it! I was scared but I did it and I’m proper proud of myself so I want to share a few of the things I learnt.
- Your comfort zone is good but the highs that can be yours if you step outside of it are worth the risk.
- If you put on an act of being confident then gradually that will become real, even to yourself.
- It’s OK to ask for help – people are only too willing to help you, you just have to ask.I couldn’t lift my camera bag at times so actually getting it into the luggage locker on the plane was beyond me.
- There are some amazing people in the world who are just friends you haven’t met yet.
- Kids are kids are kids wherever they are in the world, curious, inquisitive, sparkly eyed early years, cautious teenagers – but all willing to give you the benefit of the doubt and have a go. Be yourself – kids can tell intuitively if you are genuine or not.
- Sometimes ‘ordinary’ is good. Some teachers are over awed by ‘academics’ and the down to earth approach is what they need, they can relax and ask questions without feeling stupid. It’s Ok to laugh and enjoy yourself even if you are a teacher.
- I use twitter far too much and felt completely lost when I realised it wasn’t possible to access it in China. (The kids did explain all about having a VPN but I was too jet lagged to take it in )
- Chinese coffee is awful!!
Hopefully I’m going back in March for the Arts festival and already have lots of ideas buzzing. I’m processing what I saw and will blog again later.
I spent the morning doing a ‘photo session’ for a local primary school in their foundation outdoor learning space. The children were delightful. They were happy, polite, friendly and self sufficient. I then spent the afternoon editing images from Kakuma refugee camp where the contrast could not be more marked. – We are all living our lives, due to a total random ‘accident of birth’ and we are the lucky ones. x
It’s now just over a week since we returned from Kakuma refugee camp. It’s been a harrowing time due to family circumstances but it has also really made me think. We had Tommy for the day yesterday and despite the challenges that he has to face with his little arm he also has to have an operation on his hips which will result in him being in plaster BUT we are so lucky – he is seen by medical professionals, his care is covered by the NHS, he is surrounded by support. Mum is now in a residential dementia care unit but again, her every need is catered for.
Last week I saw children who didn’t have material possessions, many didn’t have parents around as they had been ‘sent on’ to Kakuma as unaccompanied minors. I did however, see lots of children who were loved, they might have been hungry, dirty and without shoes but there was evidence of real love.
I saw a young teacher sit with a very small child asleep next to him as she was lost and didn’t know how to get back to her mother.
I think that one of the hardest things as a parent or grandparent is to be unable – never unwilling, just desperately unable to provide what your children need. We saw a woman battling the authorities to get her children into a school, we saw a child with ‘my first bag’ which broke my heart as it was torn and dirty but had the words ‘my first bag’ written in felt pen. We saw children begging for water, waiting in line for a cup of watery porridge. Don’t get me wrong I’m not criticising these parents or the NGOs working with them – far from it – I’m in total awe of their resilience and the love that is show. BUT no one – should have to live like they do – it’s cruel. Not to mention those children who are ‘unaccompanied’.
It’s impossible to sum up the harsh realities of life in a refugee camp, all that they have is each other and hope. The day to day struggle with everything they have to face is one that is impossible to describe. Imagine if this was your walk to school everyday.
I’m not apologising for yet again asking for your support – these people need it. If you can spare just a couple of pounds we can build another classroom – we have £3800 but need £5200 – we will keep working for this and welcome any support. (link to Just giving site below) I’m happy to work with schools, talk in assemblies, send you images – we just need to do something. We aren’t asking for huge donations just a couple of pounds will help. Thank you to all of you who have already supported us. I will have a stall selling postcards and images at The Barnsley Teaching and Learning Festival at Darton College on 13th April so hope to see some of you there.
I have spent the last few days editing and categorising photos from our work in Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya. All of these images are suitable for use in schools. There will eventually be several folders but I have currently uploaded 170 high res school images and several more in a generic refugee camp folder to dropbox
If you want copies of these images I will send you a link to the dropbox in return for
either a donation to our #classroomchallenge just giving page
(any amount) – all money will go directly to build a new classroom.
Or – a commitment from you that your school will undertake some fundraising activities and donate the money to the #classroomchallenge.
If you contact me on here or DM me on twitter @janeh271 I will send you a link – these children deserve a new classroom!
We need to move from this classroom to the one at the bottom.
If you haven’t read Debbie’s blog yet – it explains what we are trying to do and includes more examples of images
You can buy photos from as little as 20p, through to huge posters for your classroom here: