Beyond IF

The IF campaign has sent out a big THANK YOU reminding us that together we have made things happen.  VinB will keep adding it’s voice until there is Enough Food for Everyone!

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A girl called Jack

jackMeet Jack.  She is a single mum who lives in Southend, Essex.  Child care demands resulted in quitting her job with the Fire Service and taking benefit while she applies for other jobs.

But, while you wait for a job, how do you cope with the challenges of living off a £10 a week food budget?  Well, I’ll let Jack describe this journey in her own words, for last year she decided to blog about her experiences in a post entitled ‘Hunger hurts‘.

And then something remarkable happened.  She re-discovered her interest in home economics and started sharing, through her blog, her recipes for making nutritious meals for little more than a few pounds.  Interest in her blog posts have now seen her recipes handed out by food banks and Penguin have signed her up to write a recipe book. She has spoken in Parliment on food poverty, attended the G8 Summit as part of the IF campaign and been interviewed by Oxfam for a report on food banks.

You can discover more about Jack through her blog and this article in the Guardian.

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Inspirational Volunteers

Dave and Shelagh Richardson are an inspiration to us all.Dave1Shelagh-1

Since returning from Brazil in late December 2012 Dave and Shelagh have fully engaged with the work of VinB at home, raising money for projects and delivering development education workshops and simulation activities.

Along with their wealth of teaching and youth work experience Shelagh and Dave bring a great sense of fun and enthusiasm. Taking on the roles of indigenous people or hard faced business men are just some of the many challenges that this versatile couple rise to on a regular basis.

The trustees are really grateful to have such fantastic returned volunteers! If you would like to participate in our Development Education programmes please get in touch.

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Sepideth reaches for the stars

Watch and be inspired by Sepideth from Iran who dreams of becoming an astronaut, in itself it a remarkable story but the real story is her courage and undaunted determination to follow her own path.

A full length film to be released later this year.

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30 million girls maybe at risk

Images of girls, subjected to Female Genital Mutilation, hang on the office wall of the Rohi Wedu Organisation in Afar, Ethiopia. Founded by 24 year old Fatuma Hate Hafilo in 2004 the organisation provides the advocacy, training and the promotion of community dialogue that is most effective in changing socio cultural practices.


This is the most effective  approach  recommended by UNICEF in their recently published report into the dynamics of change in the context of FGM.

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Water belongs to everyone

An indigenous community and migrants from N.E. Brazil resist the attempts of land grabbers.

Young people from Longridge High participated in the third of the Hungry For Change Challenges run at Lee House. The young people took on the role of families who were forced from their land in NE Brazil because of recurrent drought. Life in the big cities proved to be just a great a struggle as the families tried to make a new life in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro. Hungry and without work they were offered support from an indigenous community who themselves had been thrown off their land.                                               Working together the families from the North East and the indigenous community resisted the attempts of land grabbers to privatise their water source.

“The water does not belong to anyone but to everyone” was the chant that rang in the land grabbers ears. With the support and intervention of an  International Development Charity (CAFOD) the land grabbers were held at bay.

This was a fantastic learning experience for our young people, there is no way we could have done this in the classroom. 

Louise Mulvana, Head of  RE, Longridge High Sch.

CIMG5803 (640x427)

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Working with nature

Techniques to bring life back to arid regions in Africa has real potential for the semi arid regions of north east Brazil.

tony_rinaudo_75Tony Rinaido, a permaculture specialist working in Africa, had spent years battling to bring life back to dry landscapes when he observed the tenacity of ‘weeds’ to keep reappearing from the parched land. Tony realised that the ‘weed’s were trees, that had been cut down years even decades ago, trying to re-emerge. He discovered underground forests,  tree root systems still very much alive under the baked earth. With careful management the root systems were allowed to bring life back to the desert and this process is helping to transform agriculture across many parts of  Africa.

Observing and working with nature rather than against it is proving to be very beneficial to the local human populations. I have often thought that there must be a better way to work with the bush land in N.E Brazil than the slash and burn approach taken at present. Tony has inspired me to re-think and re-visit this approach.

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What you say and what you do…gaping gap tells a story

An end to  tax evasion in  developing countries is an  ongoing aim of  the IF Campaign that VinB was proud to support all the way to  Hyde Park.  Now we are wondering where things are up to on the home front.

The PM played a key role in highlighting the effects of corporate tax evasion on developing countries that culminated in the G8 countries agreeing some broad principles for the way forward.   All the while, amid the huffing and puffing and high minded indignation that caught the headlines ministers were putting in place an array of tax breaks and sweetners. One being the so called Black Box  tax breaks designed to attract research and development companies to the UK and last week it was announced that home grown mining company Cuadrilla are to receive tax breaks for shale gas extraction. Not forgetting of course the planned  annual reduction of  Corporation Tax down to  20%.  One cannot but wonder about the credibility that will be attributed to the UK by fellow G8/20 members given the gap between our rhetoric and action.

On a slightly  more positive note Business Minister Vince Cable has just published a discussion document on proposals to increase company transparency, though it is criticized as being too wishy-washy. Hope is at hand with the more meaty United Kingdom Corporate and Individual Tax and Financial Transparency Bill  introduced by Labour minister, Michael Meacher, and which has its second reading in September.

It will be interesting to see what  amendments are made to the Bill  given the likely conflict of interests amongst the MP’s and pressure from  business lobbying groups. Reforming taxation is an eye watering  task given its huge complexity. Some would say better to start again than try to fix something that is broken.

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Our fun loving pope

Pope Francis laughing with journalists on the flight to Brazil from the Vatican (EPA)

Pope Francis laughing with journalists on the flight to Brazil from the Vatican (EPA)

This image of Pope Francis taken during the flight to Brazil sets the tone, more than any words could, for his meeting with the young people at the World Youth Day. His off the cuff jokes and sense of fun are becoming a hall mark of a pope who disdains the barriers of formality in order to be closer to people and their realities.

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Home sweet home…but not for the street children of Brazil

streetChildren1Martina, our volunteer in the North East of Brazil, is now in Rio  preparing to welcome Pope Francis to World Youth Day. Since her arrival, a little over a month ago, Martina has worked as a volunteer in a day centre for street children, run by the AMAR Foundation.

Every morning the AMAR minivan goes to the central station to collect the kids that are sleeping there. Then the bus takes them to the centre that provides showers, meals, arts and sports activities, but most importantly it provides them with love and support.

For the  first few  days I found it very hard, especially going out to collect them and seeing how many children are actually living on the streets. Many of them had to leave their homes because of violence, drugs and abuse. 

It took me some time to adjust but soon I started to see them as normal children who still like to play and really enjoy being children…though there is no easy solution to solve this big problem. What I was able to see, was that even small acts of kindness make a difference to the children and provide them with the hope for the future.   Martina

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