homeless man given a kindle

What would you do? Beggars…

Dublin

Dublin

I was in Dublin recently and I found a five euro note on the floor & decided to pass it on to a young homeless couple.

As I was handing it over, a man grabbed my wrist and stopped me.

He asked, ‘Have you asked them what they’ll spend it on?’

I asked him why that should be any of my business.

The man said, ‘They might spend it on something they shouldn’t.’

I said I wasn’t giving them the money to play god.

He then waited around to ask me if they said thank you.

They did – but I explained that wasn’t why I gave the money to them and quickly got out of his way.

That’s why I think you should read this post… Beggars by Chicaderock.

 

#AuthorsForNepal – who wants a manuscript critique?

nepal-flag-300x214#AuthorsForNepal – set up by the wonderful @JCCWilliams – is raising money for those in immediate need, by offering various donations from authors, agents and publishers on ebay. There are critiques, signed books, illustrations, even writing retreats on offer… to help, you just need to share the news and bid for what you want.

I’m offering a critique/readers report (like those I do through  Inkwell Group) for a starting bid of £25 here. You can help your own writing and a good cause – and save yourself quite a few quid while you’re at it! There’s no time limit on the critique, so even if you haven’t finished your manuscript, you can bag yourself a critique for the future.

Some of the great items on offer include…

This should be enough to give you an idea of what you can bid for! They’ve reached the £5000 mark, but here’s hoping the money keeps rolling in. There are some definite bargains to be had… good luck!

 

 

Run for Plan to end child marriage

A Call to End Child Marriage

You may remember that I did a Because I am a Girl blog recently, for Plan Ireland; well today I received an email about their latest campaign (which included the shocking image I’ve added below), and I wanted to share this with you.

Plan Ireland is putting together a team for the Women’s Mini-marathon on 1st June. The team is running to “end child marriage.” Every day, 41,000 girls are married as child brides. Girls just like Sumnina (5) below from Nepal.

Run for Plan to end child marriage

Girls who are forced into early marriage miss out on education, are more prone to poverty and suffer complications during childbirth. Any proceeds raised will contribute towards Plan’s projects which aim to halt the global problem of child marriage.

Should you be interested you can visit www.plan.ie/minimarathon

Short fiction – A Homelessness theme

Dublin

Dublin

Whenever I visit Dublin, I notice an ever-increasing number of homeless people on the streets. Things have certainly changed since I lived there, and not for the better.

I’m currently trying to put together a charity book, with the proceeds going to a charity for the homeless, but I seem to be hitting lots of dead ends. In the meantime, I thought I’d post a piece of short fiction that was shortlisted for a competition back in December. It’s only a small gesture and does little to help, but hopefully my bigger plan will come together soon.

This is dedicated to all the homeless people in Ireland and across the world…

Another Day

The young woman is tired and clammy as she reluctantly heads home, pushing against the revelers in Santa hats and slinky outfits. Under the Christmas lights on O’Connell, their gentle blinking, she can almost pretend that she too will celebrate until the small hours, in a silver party dress, unburdened by the illness she still denies, not ready to wear the label just yet.

The young man is cold and homeless, but insists on smiling. Slumped against the humped city bridge, he watches people hurry by, imagining them to be friendly while they pretend he’s invisible. He marvels how the padlocks that the council had removed are starting to return – as though love can only work if it is shackled.

When the woman hears singing, the unmistakable force of Handel’s Messiah wending its way through the air, she changes directions, resists the urge to hurry like she would have even one month ago, before symptoms or diagnosis. The music warms her, and she fantasizes about what it would be like to tell just one person of her sorrows.

When the man hears voices spiralling, his heart starts dreaming. Memories of a young boy’s Christmas when he still believed in the gifts of angels. He follows the melody until he reaches the edge of a crowd in Temple Bar. He forgot his mother’s face long ago, but he remembers how sweetly she hummed this, her favourite oratorio, and how she swayed in time to the tune.

They stand side by side, their eyes locked on the choir, as though looking away might shatter the beauty. As the woman stumbles, the man catches her arm, forgetting to be invisible. ‘Y’all right, love?’ he asks. ‘Yes.’ ‘Are you sick?’ ‘Yes.’ The words escapes and hovers between them. The man doesn’t ask any more, but holds her until she’s steady. Then slowly, without thinking, he leads her in a shuffling dance.

The man hasn’t gathered enough hostel money anyway, so he invites her for a drink. She says it’s her shout, it’s the least she can do, and wonders – how can a person do more? They go to a place neither of them knows. The music is too loud, and they only make it to the dance floor, where disco lights dapple them with silver. They stay an hour longer than they intend and say goodbye without touching.

On the Luas the next day, the woman touches the spot where the man caught her. The pain is different now. Tender, like the bravery growing inside her. Maybe she could tell just one more person? She wonders where the man will sleep tonight, whether she would offer him a bed if their paths crossed again. She walks home via Temple Bar, even though it’s out of her way.

And the man is still cold and homeless, but last night he danced with an angel dressed in silver lights that glittered with possibility, like the ripples on the Liffey on this, another day.

 

singing kites school cambodia

A great cause: Because I am a girl…

In case you haven’t heard of it, Plan.ie is an international charity that dedicates it time and money to helping children around the world, promoting child rights to end child poverty. On their website, Plan.ie explains:

For almost 80 years we’ve been taking action and standing up for every child’s right to fulfil their potential. On a daily basis, our energy is devoted to making a difference for children living in poverty.”

Because I am a Girl is just one strand of this charity’s reach: a global equality movement which transforms communities by empowering girls.

singing kites school cambodia

Getting ready for school! Cambodia (author’s own photo)

I was delighted to be invited to write a blog post for Because I am a Girl, as my various travels – including my recent trip to Cambodia – have highlighted that this is an important area that still requires a lot of work.

You can learn more about the project, what you can do to help, and also read my blog post here.

 

How do you do enough?

Since I’ve returned from Singing Kites, it feels like something is missing. It is lovely to be reunited with my wonderful husband, and to be back in beautiful West Cork, but when I was in Cambodia, I felt like I was useful, like I was doing something truly worthwhile.

A young Cambodian boy rocking his baby brother to sleep - no money for education

A young Cambodian boy rocking his baby brother to sleep – no money for education

Now I’m home, I’m loving my work, my writing, my home, and my life – and I’m feeling extremely grateful for what I have – but I also feel, in some way, useless. Not unworthy, but like there’s a void. That’s the best way that I can describe it.

The more you delve into conservation or charity work, the more you realise how endless the need is for help. So where do you start?

Do you help defenseless animals like at the Elephant Nature Park, or do you teach voluntarily in developing countries? Do you look closer to home and volunteer with wonderful organisatons like Inner City Helping Homeless, or do you look even closer still and adopt a rescue dog or make sure you remember to do the little things that help your loved ones and neighbours? All of the above, probably, but how can you ever do enough?

There is no doubt that I will return to Singing Kites next year (I can’t wait!), and I have an exciting charity project brewing that I hope will come to fruition soon enough. But we have to pay the bills and can genuinely only do so much, so in the meantime, I’m left wondering, how exactly can I help?

The simple answer is, that as a writer, I hope that by creating I can provide something useful – whether it’s a blog post that raises awareness, a story that allows for hope or escape, a fun children’s adventure trilogy, or a poem or piece of short fiction that reaches out to someone or simply entertains.

It’s not much to offer but I hope my writing will be read and enjoyed and will somehow affect the reader. I guess that’s what we want as writers, and, while I try and get my charity project off the ground, I’ll have to stop questioning whether that’s enough.