Our exploration of the world continues! Thanks to Auntie Katrin, we have twelve different plants to grow, and we had great fun reading about them and trying to place them on our world map. We have peanuts, eucalyptus, gingko, cotton, mimosa, and lots more...although we're not quite sure what the neighbours will say when we put a giant sequoia in our back garden! Pretty much all the plants need much warmer (and drier!) weather than the UK can muster, and Mum will admit to a lack of green thumbs, but we'll do our best with our horticultural world exploration - and we'll let you know how we get on!!
When Collins Big Cat said they would match Toby's £590 as and when he manages to raise the funds, there were squeals in this house. Well...yesterday, a big parcel arrived for Toby, and upon opening it, there was a spell of hushed, awed silence, followed by a long, drawn-out "wooooooooooooooow" (he's usually more eloquent ;)). The lovely, lovely people at Collins Big Cat have sent Toby books...and lots of them. I tried to get them all in the picture, but already had to go hunting through the house, because I found several hidden in his bed (yes, lights out was rather late yesterday). It is such a fantastic range (and I'm not saying that because we got a box of books!) - and several were immediately put to use for Toby's project. See the one bottom right? The "Pacific Island Scrapbook"? It's about Vanuatu! Yes, Vanuatu. Then there's one about Unusual Traditions, several about wild creatures, one about Captain Scott...and that's just the non-fiction ones (actually, just some of them). Anybody who knows Toby (and/or me, his Mum) knows that this household has something of an addictive relationship going on with books, so Toby truly is in 7th Heaven.
As far as fundraising is concerned, Toby is at £379.47 - which means £210.53 left to go before Collins Big Cat will match his ShelterBox: http://www.justgiving.com/writingtotheworld
Blogging twice in one day, but neither Toby nor I could wait to share the amazing news! Collins Big Cat, the publisher behind the book "A Letter to New Zealand", have said that, if and when Toby reaches his fundraising goal of £590 for ShelterBox, they will match it with another £590, which means Toby would manage to raise the funds for TWO boxes.
A certain little boy just ran screaming around the living room.
...and, well, if that's not a good incentive to help Toby reach his fundraising goal........
He's raised £218.16 so far.
Thank you very much to our friends at Collins Big Cat!!!
When ShelterBox asked whether they might tell people about Toby's project, we (that's Toby's parents) said "yes" because we figured it might a) encourage other kids to dream big, and b) help with those last few pesky countries. Little did we know that Toby and I would get whisked to the ITV studios in Leeds, and end up making the news. You can see our little adventure at ITV Leeds Studios (for a limited time) here: http://www.itv.com/news/calendar/update/2013-09-04/writing-to-the-world/ - I do feel compelled to mention two things that got cut from the interview: 1) That it was Toby, after learning about Somalia, who said "what can I do to help?", and that made us look to ShelterBox as a charity (check out his letter to Somalia, he asks the question there!), and me thanking the world for their amazing support in helping us find contacts. Also, I would like to make it known that Toby is usually a bit more chatty! TV cameras will do that to you......
Thank you so much to ITV for inviting us over, hopefully, we'll get a chance to come back one day and see a bit more about how everything works!
The great thing about Toby's project is that it doesn't (always) end with a one-off letter exchange. Yesterday, Toby walked in on the news, in particular, an item about the floods in Karthoum. "We've written to Karthoum!", he says, "Are they okay?" Thankfully, although we rely on letters for Toby's part of the exchange, arranging the contacts has meant that we do have email addresses for many of Toby's writing partners, and so, this morning, I could tell him the following:
"Many people lost their homes and their possessions. The great thing in Khartoum is that people help each other a lot. Even if you have very little space families will make space for their relatives and they will be given food. In comparison to England perhaps because the government isn't always very organised, people are quite a lot better at helping each other."
Yes, of course we could Google, but for us, every country in the world will forever have a personal name attached to it, somebody at the other end of the letter - I hadn't anticipated this when Toby started the project. Every country he hears about, Toby asks "who did we write to there? Were they close to x [insert disaster/celebration]?" And, more often than not "can we write to somebody else there?" I'm beginning to think this project will never end...and I'm not complaining!
[Photo taken from "Nafeer Sudan" on Flickr, under Creatve Commons: http://www.flickr.com/photos/99881011@N08/]
This blog is mainly a way to keep track of our recipes - for day to day updates, please check out Toby's Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/writingtotheworld