Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Charity: Let’s Hear It For The Little Guys

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We have all seen them: images of suffering people and animals presented to us during breaks in our entertainment time. In the UK we have endless amounts of entertainment - in Great Britain alone it has been predicted that by 2017 the entertainment industry will be worth £65.5 billion and television advertising makes up £4.7 billion of that estimate. Advertising is big business and incredibly lucrative. But whereas adverts for new products, new media and better services play to our pleasures, charity advertising mostly evokes guilt. It is not surprising we see these heart breaking images whilst we ourselves are relaxing on the sofa with, let’s be honest, not that much to worry about. Not that I blame charities for using such a method, it is some form of the truth and great parts of the world are in dire need of aid, many parts of this country are in dire need of aid, and these adverts serve to remind us of that. But the question has to be asked, at what point is the truth itself exploited for financial greed? At the end of the day ‘charity’ is a business - big business.

This time last year it was reported that 30 executives of the UK’s 14 leading foreign aid charities were earning six figure salaries. Concerns over the morality in such charities ensued. At a time when the financial market was grim at best; it proved controversial for such excessive salaries in an industry that was supposedly built on the nature of giving.

Regardless, charities continue to be funded by the public, but is that because we feel a genuine injustice in the world or because that cute animal behind bars on TV made us sad? And , after successfully achieving a donation, will that donation be put to good use (as we like to believe and are led believe it will) or will it be used to film even more scenes of sorrow to fund further growth in salaries?

With more money the marketing opportunities become infinitely better. And better marketing means more awareness of your cause. The titans of Charity such as Cancer Research, Macmillan Support, Oxfam, Save the Children, to name a few, all obviously do a lot of good in the world, and have the huge marketing power to reach across the nation and further. But it can’t be forgotten that they are competing with each other just like in any other industry, for your money. So many of the little guys get overshadowed and forgotten about just like the High Street. There are 180,000 registered charities in England and Wales but how many can you name? I’m struggling to make it to double figures. This doesn’t mean that their cause is any less worthy of donation, but perhaps people simply do not know about them. There are also countless charities that don’t reach the income threshold of £5,000 and don’t have to register with the Charity Commission. The income of the top charity (as recognised by the Charity Commission) earns £951,352 a year, but there are 68,550 charities earning between £0 and £10,000 a year.

Brand recognition may have something to do with the uneven distribution of donations amongst charities. A brand recognised across the world means it is trusted by millions, and charity works in just the same way. Expert advertising and marketing presents a professional image, the Breast Cancer Research adverts for example are well produced adverts that can be pleasurable to watch, complete with quick and easy donation systems means they will have a high success rate. Marketing methods used by smaller charities such as knocking on doors and leafleting are more cost effective but lack the emotive power of an advert, and that’s where the problem may lie. Who wants to be bothered at home by phone calls and visits from activists when you can easily text a number, donate an amount and still have the feeling of doing something good in the world, very few.

It is worth seeking out a charity where you have an active belief in the cause, because they may not always be able to get to you. And that, however cheesy the saying may be - charity really does start at home.

Makerble's goal is to connect you (potential donors) with the charities that you really care about and that mean something to you. Not only this but we aim chart the impact that your donation has through pictures, statistics and films so that the results are tangible. Makerble aims to bridge the gap between donating and wondering where your money has gone but also wants to strengthen the relationship between donor and cause.

- by Emily Wright
picture: copyright of The Times

Thursday, 11 September 2014

The Makerble Guide to Mental Health

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In the last decade, mental health in young people has sky-rocketed: shockingly nowadays suicide is the third leading cause of death in young adults. With one in four people experiencing depression at some time in their lives it seems to suggest that modern life takes its toll on all of us. With increasingly busy schedules and less time for ourselves we’ve given our top ten tips to make sure that you have a more positive day….

1. Do something for somebody else

They say it's always better to receive - and in fact giving has proven to be good for our health. Often in times of trouble and distress, we are so focused on our own problems and insecurities that we forget about others. A simple action on your part could really brighten somebody else's day, in turn making your effort feel more worthwhile: ring your mum; make your flat mate a cup of tea; give your colleague a compliment; help a little old lady across the road or donate to a cause you really care about. Trust us, your gesture will be appreciated.

2. Look after yourself

Give your body what it needs: whether be it more sleep, more vegetables, or more exercise. Lay off smoking so much, and treat a double-vodka coke for what it is - a treat.

When you're feeling unhappy it can be very tempting to hit the bottle or eat bad food. While initially it may seem like a good idea, it isn't and smoking, drinking or taking drugs will only do much more harm to your mental health.

3. Connect with loved ones

We heard that groan. Yes, even if your mother can talk Graham Norton into the ground, and your dad is only going to tell you that you chose the wrong degree. Today we have all the technology at our finger tips but research has found we are lonelier than ever. It's human instinct to want intimacy and friendship, and sometimes picking up the phone or sharing a joke with an old friend is all that it takes to lighten that mental load.

4. Do something that scares you

Try to live by this rule daily. It is easy to live your life trapped by your fears and insecurities, too timid to stand up to people who push into a queue, or too nervous to join a running club for the first time. If you start doing things you're normally too scared to do, you will open your world up to a whole host of new opportunities and friendships. Join that class, book yourself on a course or go for that job - what's the worst that could happen?

5. Wake up each day grateful for something

Every morning, say to yourself - out loud - one thing that you are grateful for. It sounds cheesy but it really works. My dad wakes up every day grateful that he is still physically able but it could be that you're thankful for the people you have in your life. Try to keep it as varied as possible.

6. Blast out your favourite music

Music is good for the soul: fact. If you need cheering up then blast out your favourite song in the shower, or combine hoovering the house with a good sing song. If you love music then book a slot in your local karaoke bar and enjoy a sing song with all your friends. Or, make yourself a good play list on Spotify, invite some friends round and listen to all your favourites.

7. Meditate

From Madonna to Oprah to Orlando Bloom, the celebs swear by it: just 15 minutes a day can make you feel calmer, happier and more in control. Find a calm place where you won't be disturbed and empty your mind: focus on slowly breathing in and out and just take time to just 'be' in the moment. If you need a bit of guidance then try you tube or buy a CD. Observe your thoughts and don't pass judgement on them: just watch them come and go. It puts you in a much better frame of mind for dealing with that hectic day ahead...

8. Try Yoga

Yoga is so good for you. Most of us spend our lives sitting in chairs, looking at screens and tapping away on tablets, phones and computers. Google local yoga classes in your area and sign up - you're body will be eternally grateful. Or, if you fancy trying it on your own first check out you tube for some beginner stretches.

9. Treat yourself

Sometimes you just need to be nice to yourself; whether that means going on a spending spree, going to the cinema, treating yourself to a delicious lunch or meeting up for drinks with friends, it's important to be kind to yourself. We get so preoccupied with working and our daily routines sometimes you have to remember what it is you enjoy doing and just do it!

10. Get some exercise

Exercise boosts the endorphins and is thoroughly good for the soul. Come rain or shine, there is nobody out there who will feel worse after a run or a kickabout - and the hardest bit is getting out the house. So dust off your trainers and get active.

We hope our pointers help make you feel happier - if you have been feeling down or stressed for a prolonged period of time it is definitely important to talk to your doctor or a mental health care professional.

- by Freya Morgan

Helplines and support groups

Samaritans (08457 90 90 90) operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year. If you prefer to write down how you are feeling, or if you are worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at jo@samaritans.org.

Childline (0800 1111) runs a helpline for children and young people in the UK. Calls are free and the number will not show up on your phone bill.

PAPYRUS (0800 068 41 41) is a voluntary organisation that supports teenagers and young adults who are feeling suicidal.

Depression Alliance is a charity for people with depression. It does not have a helpline, but offers a wide range of useful resources and links to other relevant information.

Students Against Depression is a website for students who are depressed, have a low mood or are having suicidal thoughts.

Bullying UK is a website for both children and adults affected by bullying.

Help for young men

Men may be more likely to avoid or ignore problems and many are reluctant to talk about their feelings or seek help when they need it.

A support group called the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is an excellent resource for young men who are feeling unhappy. As well as the website, CALM also has a helpline (0800 58 58 58).


Monday, 8 September 2014

London's Top Ten Sandwich Bars

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How much do you normally spend on lunch? A few pounds? A bit more? Under a tenner? Buy a virtual sandwich in the Makerble lifestyle checkout and help causes you care about. Not only that, you'll also see where that money goes so you can see exactly what difference you've made. To get you in the mood Here is a list of the top ten sandwich bars in London for all you sandwich-lovers out there...

A sandwich is a staple, familiar diet, acceptable for breakfast at the start of the day, to be bought along with a packet or crisps and drink as part of a three pound deal at lunchtime, and can be substituted as a light dinner with a limitless amount of ingredients that can be combined in different amalgamations to make a delicious savoury meal stacked between two slices of bread. Subway prides itself as the place that has extrapolated the idea of the possible and exciting combinations of sandwiches, leaving it to the customer to decide on and to suit to their own tastes, the implemented idea a success. Sandwiches have gone a long way from the simple white-bread-and-cheese you would open your lunchbox to find and grimace at the crusts.

1. Banh Mi 11

Resurrecting the childhood favourite fish-finger sandwich, tinged with an additional of extra flavour from various condiments and the fish flavoured with turmeric, galangal and slow cooked with dill and spring onion, this Vietnamese baguette creates an exciting new take on it. A clash of cultures occur between French bread and delicate Asian flavours and sandwiches, as well as a blend of pulled pork and pitta bread, frankfurters in flatbread and smoked salmon in scone, creating exciting and unique possibilities. Vietnamese cooking is preserved with a philosophy of freshness and seasonality, whilst elevating flavour combinations using local produce.

Broadway Market, E8

2. Mishkin’s

This deli cannot exactly be described as Jewish; its origins are as ambigious as the menu, however, is based loosely on Jewish comfort food. Amongst a playful atmosphere of cocktails and music, more is always better for snacking purposes. A toastie with pastrami, Swiss cheese and sauerkraut is an unmissable choice, a New York classic found in London, yet the fun does not have to stop there. With choices of adding extra dressing, with the choice to take away leftovers in a doggy bag, piling on pastrami and sauerkraut is the only logical option.

25 Catherine St, WC2B 5JS. www.mishkins.co.uk. Tottenham Court Rd tube.

3. Kappacasein

Everybody loves cheese and toast. Respect this love and appreciation of the grilled cheese at Kappacasein, the place to both celebrate and enjoy cheese on toast like never before where more cheese is its domain. With the finest cheddar on the finest bread, toasted until almost about to burn, the sourdough bread adds crunch with Montgomery Cheddar gently melting on the inside and outside alongside morsels of red onion, leek and garlic. Kappacasein’s owner, Bill Oglethorpe, develops Ogleshield cheese in collaboration with Somerset diary farmer Jamie Montgomery, producing unpasteurised, full-fat milk giving mature cheese its distinctive flavour. The result is perfected cheese offered in generous helpings on a pile of new potatoes, baby gherkins and pickled onions. An unmissable choice is the Famous Three Cheese Toast that includes montegomery’s cheddar, comte and ogleshield cheese.

Borough Market, SE11, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, kappacasein.com)

4. City Caphe

The authentic bánh mì situated in London offer light and fluffy baguettes baked fresh every day by an artisan bakery in traditional Hoi An style. Peppered with coriander, cucumber, carrot, pickled daikon and fiery, fresh chillies to boast an exotic taste with individual-choice filling, the result is a charming and genuine sandwich. One of the favourites is the lemongrass beef. Serving half the population of the Square Mile at lunchtime, it has proved a big hit to French-inspired Vietnamese baguette and street food fans.

17A Ironmonger Lane, EC2V 8EY. www.citycaphe.com. Bank tube.

5. Fernandez & Wells

Using core products including cured meats and cheeses along with sourdough bread, creating sandwiches at Fernandez & Wells provide traditionally French stone-baked baguettes. Its fillings include mouth-watering 36-month cured Juan Domecq ham and plum tomatoes, with perennial favourites including the Grilled Chorizo, the Ham Cheese & Piccalilli, and the Black Pudding with Egg Mayo, with new possible combinations offered every day. The unique Black Pudding, now an F&W classic, is the grand union of Stuart Grant’s Scottish black pudding grilled with their specialized egg mayonnaise in a sourdough bread to be eaten with a pot of Barry’s Irish tea. Another delight is not exactly a bread-filled sandwich but a French classic; the Filled Croissant sliced in the middle, with slices of cheese, tomato and ham; perfect French fast food.

43 Lexington Street, W1F, 020 7734 1546, fernandezandwells.com

6. Smith of Smithfield

‘Smiths’ of Smithfield, the Grade II listed fourth-floor restaurant in the heart of Smithfield Market prioritizes the serving of simple food made from the finest ingredients, served in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere. With its New York feel of blasted brickwork and leather seating, the meat-trading market has been situated there since 1868. One particular favourite is the nostalgic fish sandwich, teaming white bread, and the crispy breadcrumbs coating the tender, soft and juicy fish – the luxurious take on the fish-finger sandwich.

67-77 Charterhouse St, EC1M 6HJ. www.smithsofsmithfield.co.uk. Farringdon tube.

7. Dishoom

Once, there were almost four hundred cafes opened last century by Persian immigrants, hitting their peak in the 1960s. Now, with only fewer than thirty remaining, Dishoom draws upon the heritage and tradition of these cafés, paying homage to the food of Bombay. Pushing the boundaries of the descriptive understanding of sandwiches, Dishoom’s porky tandoori sandwich is a snack that one would expect only to be found in Mumbai. With fresh naan bread, smoky strips of chargrilled meat and a punchy pot of chilli jam, the combination of exotic flavours create an inspirational sandwich, making it hard to go back to the normal and simple sandwiches again. A notable tip is that the first time you check into Dishoom on Foursquare you can get a bacon naan roll for free.

7 Boundary St, E2 7JE. Shoreditch High St Overground. 12 Upper St Martin’s Lane, WC2H 9FB. www.dishoom.com. Leicester Square tube

8. St John Bread and Wine

Once, with the idea to find a home for bakery operations, it has now grown from a simple food offering and wine shop into a grand and appreciated bakery shop. Reflecting the rhythms of its locale, opening for breakfast, lunch and supper seven days a week, seasonal and indigenous ingredients are offered, diverging from the usual, formal expectations of resturants with guests actively encouraged to share dishes ready from the kitchen. One notable sandwich is a bacon butty; the bacon the Gloucester Old Spot, on soft white bread and slathered with homemade ketchup.

St John Bread and Wine (94-96 Commercial Street, E1, 020 7247 8172, stjohnbreadandwine.com).

9. Mr Falafel

Diverging from normal and simple sliced bread, experience fresh and healthy falafels made from scratch using fresh first class vegetables and prime quality chickpeas, with flavours renowned for their excellent combinations of spices and sauces. One exceptional combination of flavours is the crisp falafel balls, pickled cucumber, salty turnip, shredded lettuce and parsley, white tahini with a splash of chilli, wrapped in flatbread and taking on a doozy of aromas sure to satisfy the palate.

MR FALAFEL is the perfect destination for your next breakfast or lunch out, whether a friendly lunch for two or a small group gathering.
Units T4-T5, New Shepherd's Bush Market, W12)

10. French & Grace

Inspired by Brixton Market and its traders, French & Grace have ventured into The Hatch in Camden Lock Market, providing a take away coffee counter and full-time wrap shack serving ubiquitous wraps, flatbread pizzas, hearty breakfasts and homemade cakes. Its taste and aromas celebrate both Middle Eastern flavours and rustic British style to create a combination of the two cultures, resulting in fresh and soul-warming food. One gem among all that is offered is the warm halloumi wrap, bursting with red cabbage, bulgar wheat salad, fresh mint, pomegranate arils, pickled chillies and salty cheese, not discounting the spicy harissa and tahini dressing.

Brixton Village, SW9 8PR. www.frenchandgrace.co.uk. Brixton tube.

by Yasmin Mahdy


Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Why I love the BFI London IMAX Cinema

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We all love going to the cinema and here at Makerble, we are no exception. Spend real money in our Virtual Checkout buying a virtual cinema ticket to support a real charitable project effecting change.. Decide how much you want to donate each month by using the checkout - it really is that simple.

Yasmin Mahdy looks at why the IMAX is her cinema of cinemas....

A cinema trip is usually always one garnered with a certain ritual independent to each individual. For many, however, the cinema trip can be hailed as a joyful experience, consisting of childhood memories gazing at the pic’n’mix section with glee a chocolate-lover would feel stumbling into the Willy Wonka Factory, and teenage ones of awkward, bumbling first kisses at the back row with the assumption no one is noticing. At the university age now where money is becoming an issue, and I can never say no to a large popcorn and drink regardless of the later regret of needing the loo halfway through the film – although I perk up again once I discover popcorn all over my person with both delight and confusion – cinemas are no longer routine trips but at certain occasions usually now for the upcoming Marvel film. And so with special occasions, it means one as to attend a special cinema.

This special cinema, unique and unlike the usual Vue or Cineworld, comes in the rounded shape planted in the middle of Waterloo in the form of BFI London IMAX, is undoubtedly my favourite, and will continue to be when I can still enjoy the student discount. Known as the UK’s biggest screen, over twenty metres high and twenty-six metres wide – to bring that into perspective, picture a stack of five double-decker buses – once you go IMAX, it’s a little hard to go back to regular screenings. It offers a unique and exhilarating film experience, with digital surround sound and an immersive 3D experience. With 489 seats, including 67 premier seats, now offering sofa seats, the auditorium is far greater than a usual screening. With a Costa Coffe, Yog, bar and beer garden, the cinema is perfected with a before-or-after snack or drink with friends or partner. Like most other cinemas, it showcases the latest IMAX films, as well as old favourites, such as the favoured Lord of the Rings trilogy, and highlights from ODEON Plus.

Curiously planted, its isolation broadening its look and appeal as unique and separate, in the centre of a roundabout junction with Waterloo Road, the wide, white and gently lit tunnels to enter the rounded IMAX building is on its own an additional feature to highlight its individuality as a cinema. Owned by British Film Institute and since July 2012, operated by Odeon Cinemas, they celebrated their move to mainstream cinema by having sold 66,000 pre-booked tickets for The Dark Knight Rises in just 5 weeks, giving a total sale in tickets of £1,000,000 before the premiere of the movie.

Not alone, London has another traditional IMAX cinema that is located at the Science Museum in South Kensington and since December 2008, IMAX digital cinemas are located at Greenwich and Wimbledon. In 2011, a digital IMAX screen was also opened at the Odeon in Swiss Cottage.

IMAX feels like the more glitzy and glamorous of cinemas, with amazing images, and fantastic 3D that simply can’t be matched; there is a certain combined and heightened use of all your senses. The technical list of the IMAX experience: digital re-mastering, projection, sound, theatre geometry, aspect ratio, camera and technology may not mean much to me but its impact cannot be forgotten. With bigger picture and no frame, you are absorbed into the film; a sensation intensified with the sound, huge field of view, high-resolution picture and of course, the smooth 3D. The visual enhancement process creates a greatly appreciated atmosphere for movie-goers, it becomes an experience where you can finally watch a film you’ve been waiting. The offered break from your everyday life is achieved and, in my experience, there have been no technical issues, loud talking, and the sound of munching popcorn taking over the film to jolt me out of it, something to appreciate.

A bold, big cinematic gem, with image such as that of a slanted James Bond from Quantum of Solace, and the brooding Dark Knight splayed across the glowing screen, it shines with its strobe lights in the evening like an electric beacon in the middle of a normal junction, promising action, adventure and enjoyment all from just sitting down with an inordinate amount of sugar to accompany you. With IMAX, it has a peculiar, exciting comfort to it, which hasn’t disappointed me yet.

- by Yasmin Mahdy

Friday, 29 August 2014

Bestival - the Best Eco-Friendly Music Festival in the South

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Bestival aficionados are generally split into two groups – those who attend this fantastic music event each and every year, no matter the weather – and those who plan to go but haven’t quite managed to muster the motivation – yet. Well, the truth is the Bestival (or Besti as it’s more affectionately known) is arguably one of the most entertaining, eclectic music events of the summer – and it only takes one visit to get even the humblest of music lovers hooked.

So, what is it about the Besti that draws tens of thousands of visitors to the sunny Isle of Wight each September? It can’t be the promise of good weather – the Bestival site has been known to become a mud-bath on a fair few occasions. Could the attraction lie in the increasingly eco- friendly nature of the festival? Possibly - but it’s more likely the reason Bestival enthusiasts keep on coming back to this award winning festival time and again is simply due to the sheer variety of entertainment on offer. It isn’t just the headlining acts that make the Besti the best music festival in the south (though the organisers always take care to appeal to a myriad of musical tastes), it’s the ‘little’ touches that make the entire four day experience truly authentic – and (thankfully) far less commercial than its longer standing (and far bigger) counterparts.

Back in the day....

Ask anyone who went to Glastonbury in the late 80’s and early 90’s why it was such a brilliant music experience and the chances are they will tell you the same stories. A vibrant and welcoming atmosphere, diverse range of acts, manageable crowd sizes and a truly varied festival feel. Whilst Glasto is still considered one of the best festivals on offer in the UK, it is also one of the largest and, by way of reasoning, one of the most commercial. The Isle of Wight Bestival, however, is restricted by Island By-Laws which successfully limit the number of attendees at any one event. This is fantastic news for true music lovers – you get the full festival experience without having to strain your neck standing at the back of a 100,000 strong crowd (or queuing for three days to use the loo!). Add to this the numerous activities on offer (previous Bestival highlights have included everything from Zumba to stand-up comedy)and it’s little wonder that locals and ‘mainlanders’ alike trek to Robin Hill Country Park each September, safe in the knowledge that their Besti experience is going to be the best.


The Bestival is fast becoming one of the most eco-friendly music events of the year - but how exactly does this relate to you? Well, as a founding member of the Green Festival Alliance, the Bestival ethos is geared towards sustainability, simultaneously working to reduce (and highlight awareness of) our ‘carbon footprint’ by adopting energy saving practices. This awareness implicitly promotes a sense of social responsibility and encourages other festival organisers to look at ways of reducing the environmental impact associated with major music events. Put simply, adopting environmentally friendly practices via conservation of energy and reduction of carbon emissions helps to protect our planet – and who can argue with that?

Supporting Local Initiatives

Bestival founder Rob Da Bank also uses his music festival as a platform to support local initiatives and to highlight awareness of environmental topics. The ‘Bestival Bottle’ project is a fantastic educational programme which works in conjunction with the Footprint Trust to teach Island children about the importance of conserving water and recycling. This pioneering project has already helped countless school children understand a little more about the impact of their carbon footprint – and has arguably helped foster enthusiasm for the welfare of our globe in many young minds. Brilliant.

Other Eco-friendly Practices

Bestival organisers also highlight the use of public transport, encouraging as many visitors as possible to utilise the Island’s bus service or car share in a bid to reduce their carbon emissions. Likewise, the on-site Bestival shop sources 100% local produce, thereby reducing waste and supporting the local economy. Recycling is high on the agenda throughout the Bestival site itself, with recycling bags freely available in the campsite and incentives offered for return of bottles and cans to designated recycling hubs.

So, if you are off to the Bestival this summer, maybe you should take some time to consider how best you can reduce your carbon footprint, both at home and at play. After all, we only have one planet - and it is our job to look after it.

‘Take care of the earth and she will take care of you’ – Anonymous.

- by Annys Brady

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Life Makes Heroes: Maggie Doyne

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Located amongst the mountaintops and serene hills of Surkhet, Nepal resides the Kopilas. The flower buds who have blossomed by the love of many and the dream of one: Maggie Doyne. At eighteen years of age, faced with a decision to make as to whether or not attend further education. Maggie opted out, realising that attending college would have been too soon, and finding herself was the most vital task she had yet to complete. By joining an organisation called Leapnow, Maggie found herself on a gap year with her backpack, travelling through various countries, until she reached Nepal. There she met a young girl aged six, named Hima, who like many of the children in Nepal was made to work in order to support her herself and her family. Each day, Hima would break stones in the dry riverbed and sell them on, in order to make a living. Maggie took a keen interest in Hima, going to local head teachers and teachers, attempting to establish why children as young as six weren’t being educated. She found that the ultimate desire for all Nepali’s was to see their children educated, but earning a living prevented this. Upon realising this, Maggie took it upon herself to fund Hima through school, providing her with the uniform and a few school books. It was ultimately then, that Maggie knew she needed to make a change to the way the world worked.

The dream started to become more of a reality for Maggie when she collected her life savings of $5,000 and purchased a plot of land in Surkhet. Gaining help from the local community and major support from her hometown of Mendham, New Jersey, by 2008 Kopila Children’s Home had opened its front door.

Now currently home to 44 children aged between 3-14, the family is under the care, love and guardianship of Maggie and many aunties and uncles. It is paramount that the children in the Children’s Home realise that that is exactly where they are - Home.

In 2010, Doyne expanded her dreams by opening Kopila Valley School, home to over 350 students; it strives to provide an environment where children are able to develop mutual respect for one another, work together all the while becoming compassionate, jubilant and innovative individuals. Opening the school gates as early as 7am, Kopila Valley welcomes students who come from poor socioeconomic backgrounds: many lacking an access to education, due to gender or otherwise, many who are abandoned and to those who live in mud huts, not closing until 6pm later that same evening. Kopila Valley’s school program offers a diverse curriculum, including Maths, Nepali, Science, Computers and Social Studies, with each pupil being fluent in English.

Providing a Health Clinic and Women’s Centre, Maggie has shown no boundaries in the way she approaches change. The Women’s Centre has a range of classes that cater to self-confidence, parenting, human rights, health and stress management. As of Friday 15th August, Surkhet has experienced heavy rainfall and flooding, with 195 refugees taking shelter on Kopila Valley school grounds.

Maggie is always finding ways to give back to the community, who has given her so much.

What makes Maggie a true Life Hero is the humbleness she possess as an individual refusing to let anyone believe that it was anything other than teamwork that has allowed for all the possibilities to happen, stating “everything we’ve done, we’ve done together.” Described as having immense generosity, strength, compassion and always striving to care for and help anyone in need by one of her previous volunteers for Kopila Valley, it is apparent, that Maggie Doyne has touched the hearts of others, by being willing to be bold and follow her dreams.

It is true that many words can describe a hero. But for all the children of Kopila Valley it only takes two: Maggie Doyne.

“We have the power to create the world we want to see every day.” – Maggie Doyne

- by Nikkita Robert

“We have the power to create the world we want to see every day.” – Maggie Doyne


Monday, 18 August 2014

Tanzania and Masai culture: exploring sustainability

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In July 2013 I had the fortune to travel to Tanzania: a 10 day trip concentrated in the north of the country, from Arusha to the Serengeti national park. Before embarking on a game park safari, we were lucky enough to experience and meet Masai people in their villages. The Masai number around 350,000 in Kenya and 200,000 in northern Tanzania, and hold tight to their unique customs, characterised primarily by nomadic settlements, a livelihood based on farming and herding, and the continuation of traditions such as colourful body piercings, decorations, and dances.

Traditional Masai dance at a local village, northern Tanzania

Delving a little further into Masai culture, we can discover how, as pastoral farmers they know that their environment is their host, as well as source of nutrition and wealth.

Living sustainably

The Masai are pastoral farmers, and as such, much of their wealth and well being are tied to their livestock. Mostly goats and cattle, these animals are the cornerstone of Masai culture. Indeed, a man’s worth is often derived from the quantity of cattle he owns, and they are often also used as dowry. A Masai’s livestock is more than just that - they are their primary source of food, income and social pride.

A Masai village and cattle in the sweeping hills of north Tanzania

A natural harmony

The Masai of East Africa have been living with and within nature for thousands of years. Being natives of the land they live with the mentality of mutual respect and necessity toward the earth, rather than taking it for granted. The land that the Masai now inhabit, known as Masai Community Land, is protected and stretches from Tanzania into Kenya, bordering, among others, the Serengeti natural park.

However, due to migration patterns and the lack of physical borders, the great wild animals of this park are not contained, consequently the Masai people at times share their habitat with the likes of wild elephants, wildebeest, and lions. It is a relationship that has existed among humans and animals for thousands of years, yet both have faced increasing threats from external changes in more recent history.

Primarily illegal poaching (for the wildlife), and the increased privatisation and capitalisation of land (for the Masai) have restricted their freedom and diminished their powers as the original inhabitants of this land.

Sustainable development

The Masai’s existence, prospering alongside rather than at the expense of their natural habitat, makes them a superb source of wisdom when it comes to sustainability in the east African grasslands. Pastoralists such as the Masai, for example, are known for adopting various sustainable strategies in their farming, including mobility, diversification, and herd flexibility. As such, the Masai and neighbouring Samburu have been praised for their sustainable approach in conservation and long-term farming in an arid habitat. The Samburu, for example, embrace conservation as a mechanism of development, a model that should serve as guidance for adopting a more sustainable future in the region.

The threats they face

Globalisation and rapid urbanisation in East Africa are the gravest ongoing current threat to the Masai and their pastoral lifestyle. Their protected land has slowly decreased to accommodate private farm and ranch enterprises, game parks, and towns, and many worry that Masai Community Land might not be a given for future generations. Another key issue is the huge flow of young people migrating to larger cities for their studies and looking for work. Although the Masai encourage their younger generation to spend a year away from their villages (a coming of age passage, with the hopes that they then wish to return by their own will), many never return, allured by the fast-paced promises of the cities. Furthermore, the Maa language of the Masai is often neglected and completely forgotten, especially as many young Masai leave their villages, and while local classes have been offered in efforts to recuperate it, the Maa language is slowly disappearing. This threat to the Masai heritage is tied back to the slow decline of the control they have over their protected land. Mary Sakuda, a Masai elder explains, “when we lose our land, we lose our language and then we lose our culture”.

A Masai mother with a small child wrapped on her back in a local village

Their philosophy

A Masai Prayer:

“Father-Mother Earth, We pray thee at sunrise and sunset, that you may not

abandon your sacred duty of sustaining our lives.

The water that quenches our thirst, the air that we breathe, the trees that

provide shade, and the animals that give us company, all make life real and

creation complete.

We the children of the Earth pray for wisdom, that we in turn may be good

custodians of these precious gifts to us and our unborn generations.

For if we fail to safeguard these resources, man's moral standing as the most

intelligent animal will be questionable.

Furthermore, if we fail Nature, we shall have failed ourselves and the

generations that come after us.

And judgement will be very harsh on us.”

~ Maasai Elder

- by Christina Anagnostopoulos