Last weekend I went to a conference designed for bloggers. I’ve been before to similar (as blogged previously when I went to BlogCamp and Cybermummy) but CybHer was designed specifically in response (I think) to some people feeling dissatisfied with Cybermummy being a little, shall we say, superficial. I sat next to Sian (CybHer’s erm.. mummy…) last year in the coffee riddled morning after and it felt like there were waves of disappointment coming from her. So I wasn’t really surprised when she branched out on her own and launched her own event, taking feedback from attendees very seriously indeed.
The day was excellent in all sorts of ways; great atmosphere and positive enthusiasm from attendees overcoming the odd issue (like the internet connection 😆 ) and well organised, friendly, thought-provoking and genuinely useful with a delicious freebie from The Leather Satchel Co. I went to some excellent workshops on making a book from a blog, listened to someone talk about the impact on their life when blogging went bad (but ultimately good), learned more about running competitions, had a gorgeous lunch and got to chatter when I wasn’t occupied. There were a couple of moments that didn’t do it for me, but to be honest, they don’t need remarking on as they were very small and the day was everything it should be. It felt a very grown up affair for one and for another it was truly lovely to be among people who are fast becoming really great friends.
All that was great; it was worth the money, worth the day (and the terrible journey on the way home!) but it isn’t the bit that sticks with me.
The part of the day which altered my thinking most (again) was the workshop where Sian, Christine and others, together with Liz Scarff talked about using blogs for charity work and in particular the work they are currently doing with WorldVision. The focus for the session was the book Half The Sky which has clearly changed the lives of several of the speakers but the bit that changed me was this video.
Watch it. Please. I’ll wait.
Maybe I was very shallow prior to the life and death of Freddie. I don’t know, I never really thought I was. But one thing has utterly changed in me since he was born and died and that’s the sudden and very clear understanding that when you hear statistics of ‘this many girls’ or ‘that many people’ or ‘however many starving millions’ or ‘x many people dying of’ it fails to get across the actual human reality of this. I never really understood this until the day I saw written in black and white that 410 babies were a neonatal death in the UK in 2010 – and Freddie was one of them. 410 families went through EXACTLY this, felt like this, hurt like this, had to get up and go on like we have. All over the world when tragedies occur, the people in them feel just like I do.
As I wrote for International Women’s Day last year, I was hit by a sudden understanding that when you see silent still women in famine footage, they’ve just buried a child. Or had to leave them on a roadside. Or had to choose between feeding the child who will die or only feeding the one who might live. They’ve got the same heart bursting pain inside them as I have, the same exhaustion from birth and grief and death and having to keep going when they want to die. They know it’s coming again. And when women watch their daughters go off into the situations described above, they are sending Fran, or Maddy or Amelie or Josie – and they can do nothing at all to stop it. They know what’s coming and they are powerless.
That’s when the trite old expressions about making small differences really come into play. No one can solve it all, no one can save everyone – but if you could save me from losing Freddie and going through everything you’ve read here in the last two years, you would, wouldn’t you?
I had a long chat with three WorldVision workers during the afternoon, Justin, Sarah and Liz, and they really inspired me with their passion for making changes, with their ability to keep trying and the fact that unlike me, they actually bloody well got up and got on with doing something to make those differences. Sian is about to go with WorldVision to Niger and they’ll be tweeting using the hashtag #ShareNiger. Please follow them. Please find out about making one small difference, in one small way, via whatever charity you trust, believe in or feel comfortable with.
Please save someone’s 12 year old Maddy or 11 day old Freddie. You won’t change the world, but you will make a difference.