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Your child’s World Book Day costume could change a life

Every year people around the world come together to celebrate the power of reading on World Book Day. Here in the UK, children receive free books and schools hold all sorts of events – from making their own stories to being visited by an author.

But around the world, millions of children can’t join in the celebrations because they don’t have books. At home, poverty prevents families from buying books, in schools children often share an old textbook between over a dozen pupils and even public libraries have only a few out of date books. Many children have never even seen a children’s book before.

Our team here at Book Aid International believes that everyone, but especially children, has the right to access to books. Every year, we send around one million brand new, carefully selected books to libraries, schools, Universities, refugee camps, prisons and hospitals around the world.

On World Book Day, schools and families across the UK join us in our mission, donating £1 and dressing up as their favourite book character, holding fundraising events or marking the day with a donation so that more children around the world have the books they need. Last year, families and schools raised an astonishing £140,000.

Every year, the books we send are read by an estimated 25 million people– and last year, three of those readers were Kenyan dad Alfred and his two sons.

Alfred and his sons with their favourite books

‘Nothing in the world can give an education apart from reading’

Even though he has a good job as a teacher, books are luxuries Alfred can rarely afford – yet he knows that books are important for his children’s educations.

“I am a teacher and also a farmer. The food I grow on the farm enables me to have food for my family. My wife is a farmer too. She also sells items at the market. Her small business keeps us going. If I was told I had to buy some books for my children, I would struggle. But books are to prepare the child for future life. Books are very important.”

Alfred’s children have books in their school thanks to our Inspiring Readers programme which creates school libraries. Like parents around the world, Alfred love to see his children coming home from school excited about learning – and he prioritises their education above all else:

“At my children’s school, we are seeing that the books have changed the lives of the children. You find them reading by themselves in the classroom –  they enjoy reading! My children, when they come home, they introduce us to the new books that they have learned in school. They tell us the stories. We really enjoy it. We feel there is something good happening at the school – and it’s because of the books they have there.

Our wish is to provide enough education for our children. We pray that we have enough resources to educate them. And the best education is provision of books. Because there is nothing in the world that can give an education apart from reading.”

Outdoor reading time at AIC Primary school where Alfred’s children study

Support parents on World Book Day

Alfred is just one of the millions of dads around the world whose children are reading books we’ve sent thanks to the generosity of families here in the UK.

With your support this World Book Day, we’ll be able to send more brand new, carefully selected books to more schools, libraries and refugee camps where too many children are still struggling to learn with only a few tattered textbooks. Getting involved is quick and easy.

Donate £1 when your child dresses up
To make dressing up as easy as possible, we’ve created 43 DIY, no-sew dress up guides, each of which comes with easy to follow templates. Many can be assembled without looking beyond your kitchen cupboard or wardrobes and even come with how-to videos.

With costume guides ranging from Tris from Divergent to Peter Rabbit to Mr Twit, there’s something for everyone!

Hold a fundraising event

From a book swap to a sponsored run or a book quiz, there are plenty of fun ways to fundraise for our work. Take a look: https://www.bookaid.org/support-us/start-fundraising/

Find out more

Looking for ideas for your local school or just to learn a bit more? Book Aid International has plenty of information available. Visit www.bookaid.org/world-book-day or contact the charity directly: info@bookaid.org, 020 7733 3577.

Emma Taylor

The post Your child’s World Book Day costume could change a life – By Emma Taylor appeared first on .

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My wife and I celebrated ten years of marriage in the summer of 2017. I would like to share five marriage tips that have benefited us along the way, having reached this milestone.

  1. Me-time
  2. Make Date Nights a must
  3. Take a break
  4. Pillow talk
  5. Write down the vision
1. Me-time

If you don’t practice this already, carve out some “me-time” and pursue a creative venture. I try to utilize every creative bone in my body, be it songwriting, gigging, playing sport, attending courses, blogging or reading alone during a café breakfast. It will make you a more interesting person to be around and talk to.

It doesn’t have to be fancy pursuit; find something you enjoy doing and simply do it! The key thing here is to hold on tightly to the things that make you uniquely you. After all, these were some of the reasons your life partner decided to be with you. Encourage and help your significant other to do the same. Creative outlets can help to cultivate positive energy, inspiration and personal growth for you and your partner. In these moments I grow to understand myself more intimately.

2. Make Date Nights a must

This cliché marriage ritual is a must. I suppose the general idea is that once you get married and ‘settle down’, that’s precisely what happens to your expectations of date-night glory. We settle for less and don’t feel as though we need to try as hard to impress our significant other. And then, children come along and it’s even more challenging to scrub up for a night in- or out! But, I must say, there’s nothing quite like giving the Mrs. a reason to dress up and step out for a dinner and quality time together.

Personally, we love a dinner and theatre combo, even if it requires travelling a little outside of London for the evening. If things are a bit tight or you are struggling to secure a babysitter; grab some scented candles, massage oils, fire up a relaxation and spa playlist on YouTube and become a masseuse for the evening. Follow this up with deluxe cheesecake and wine. Neither of you will be sorry.

3. Take a break

When your body tells you it needs a break, trust it!  It’s too easy to lose oneself in the rat race because the wheel doesn’t stop turning. I like to bring a halt to the momentum and block out the noise when necessary.  Rest is a vital ingredient for restoration and continued progress and success in a relationship. We recently took ourselves to Hampshire for a forest break in a cabin and had by far the best short break we have ever experienced as a family of four. It’s no secret that rest gives us time for reflection and rejuvenation. Time to stop and communicate with one another aside from all of the things that usually get in the way. It may well be this time away that gives you the opportunity to discern the needs of your loved ones more profoundly.

4. Pillow talk

There’s always that time late in to the evening when the house is fast asleep. Steady on fellas- I’m going somewhere with this! One of the oldest pieces of advice you will hear resonate at many weddings is the importance of communication. I was great at doing this pre-marriage. I gushed and gushed and gushed until I had no gush left. Somewhere along the way, it can become easy to forget just how important open communication is once you think you have learnt so much about one another. I’m learning all over again how important it is to continually open up ask and respond to honest questions. As we evolve so should our level of communication. That intimate pillow talk with your spouse can reveal so many things you aren’t privy to during the day when we tend to share our attention with many other facets of life.

5. Write down the vision

Develop a clear vision for your partnership and family (if you have or plan to have children).  My wife and I began writing down our goals early on in our relationship and have continued to do so well in to our marriage. A few months could go by before we re-visit them and rigorously reflect.  During reflection, we often find that we have achieved some goals, are working towards others or need to adjust our priorities. Nonetheless, it is this process of writing down the vision and making it plain that steers our hearts and minds with a true sense of purpose and unity. It could be as simple as writing on strips of paper, listing your priorities as a family or as complex as a grid of goals with actions alongside that detail how you will achieve them. Find what works for you and your family and factor in a healthy balance of personal, partnership and family-centered priorities.

Ten years, five tips, and lots more to learn. The journey continues….

One love and ‘Happy 2018’.

By Cal-I J. Muirhead

(Check out some of my personal stories at www.justcallmecal-i.com)

The post Ten years, five tips, and lots more to learn: 5 top tips for a successful marriage – by Cal-I Muirhead appeared first on .

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Before we had children weekends were made of getting up whenever we wanted and having an easy relaxing weekend sometime with a hangover, other times we would have breakfast at the local cafe and think what should I/ we do today.

Wow those were the days. My weekends now are made up of our son usually sleeping in our bed snoring like a hippo, and our daughter  waking up at 6:00/30. No matter what time she goes to bed she gets up at this ridiculous time. I used to love sleep. So much so that one day at university I’d said I was going to work the next day and when my mates knocked on my windows repeatedly, I told them to leave me alone. I was going back to sleep.

I say to my daughter every weekend, ‘When you are a teenager and love your bed I’m going to wake you up early every day with a wet cloth’ as this early morning wake up is wild.

To be fair my wife is a better early riser than me and I’m good at pretending to be asleep. Come on, us with kids know this trick.

Weekends are then spent with swimming lessons, endless kids parties in loud, mad places,  food shops and constant random errands. No time for me to do anything really for myself like going out  to shop for hub caps or play video games in my pants.

When they were younger, we tried going out for a nice family meal like you see in the movies. Did not happen. They do not sit still long enough and when they order the food, they often do not eat it or they decide to run around and around the restaurant.  To sum it up, my daughter was given the chance to go for a meal wherever she wanted and she chose McDonalds. I had to ask her more than once was she sure and she said yeah, asking her brother to reinforce this decision.

From a child’s perspective sometimes I think we as parents over-complicate things and set the bar too high. They like the simple life.

Then there is the issue of getting intimate. Truth is you are both tired a lot and you have to take it when you can get it, often at speed before some little dude shouts MUMMY.

What I would say though is that while life before kids was easier, having children is the best thing that has happened to me as it has made me slow down and see things their way, making me less selfish and smarter with my time. My social circle has changed slightly; we now do play dates with mates and we take the kids to see child friendly things. I still fit in the occasional lad night out though skip the booze as the kids will be jumping on my head in the morning.

With my partner we talk about things and laugh at how life used to be and try to do little things to keep the spark alive. Usually the £10 M&S meal deal and an early night. We know how to live!

Happy new year fro the The Smith family

By Jermaine Smith

The post How relationships change after having children – by Jermaine Smith appeared first on .

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My wife and I celebrated ten years of marriage in the summer of 2017. I would like to share five marriage tips that have benefited us along the way, having reached this milestone.

  1. Me-time
  2. Make Date Nights a must
  3. Take a break
  4. Pillow talk
  5. Write down the vision
1. Me-time

If you don’t practice this already, carve out some “me-time” and pursue a creative venture. I try to utilize every creative bone in my body, be it songwriting, gigging, playing sport, attending courses, blogging or reading alone during a café breakfast. It will make you a more interesting person to be around and talk to.

It doesn’t have to be fancy pursuit; find something you enjoy doing and simply do it! The key thing here is to hold on tightly to the things that make you uniquely you. After all, these were some of the reasons your life partner decided to be with you. Encourage and help your significant other to do the same. Creative outlets can help to cultivate positive energy, inspiration and personal growth for you and your partner. In these moments I grow to understand myself more intimately.

2. Make Date Nights a must

This cliché marriage ritual is a must. I suppose the general idea is that once you get married and ‘settle down’, that’s precisely what happens to your expectations of date-night glory. We settle for less and don’t feel as though we need to try as hard to impress our significant other. And then, children come along and it’s even more challenging to scrub up for a night in- or out! But, I must say, there’s nothing quite like giving the Mrs. a reason to dress up and step out for a dinner and quality time together.

Personally, we love a dinner and theatre combo, even if it requires travelling a little outside of London for the evening. If things are a bit tight or you are struggling to secure a babysitter; grab some scented candles, massage oils, fire up a relaxation and spa playlist on YouTube and become a masseuse for the evening. Follow this up with deluxe cheesecake and wine. Neither of you will be sorry.

3. Take a break

When your body tells you it needs a break, trust it!  It’s too easy to lose oneself in the rat race because the wheel doesn’t stop turning. I like to bring a halt to the momentum and block out the noise when necessary.  Rest is a vital ingredient for restoration and continued progress and success in a relationship. We recently took ourselves to Hampshire for a forest break in a cabin and had by far the best short break we have ever experienced as a family of four. It’s no secret that rest gives us time for reflection and rejuvenation. Time to stop and communicate with one another aside from all of the things that usually get in the way. It may well be this time away that gives you the opportunity to discern the needs of your loved ones more profoundly.

4. Pillow talk

There’s always that time late in to the evening when the house is fast asleep. Steady on fellas- I’m going somewhere with this! One of the oldest pieces of advice you will hear resonate at many weddings is the importance of communication. I was great at doing this pre-marriage. I gushed and gushed and gushed until I had no gush left. Somewhere along the way, it can become easy to forget just how important open communication is once you think you have learnt so much about one another. I’m learning all over again how important it is to continually open up ask and respond to honest questions. As we evolve so should our level of communication. That intimate pillow talk with your spouse can reveal so many things you aren’t privy to during the day when we tend to share our attention with many other facets of life.

5. Write down the vision

Develop a clear vision for your partnership and family (if you have or plan to have children).  My wife and I began writing down our goals early on in our relationship and have continued to do so well in to our marriage. A few months could go by before we re-visit them and rigorously reflect.  During reflection, we often find that we have achieved some goals, are working towards others or need to adjust our priorities. Nonetheless, it is this process of writing down the vision and making it plain that steers our hearts and minds with a true sense of purpose and unity. It could be as simple as writing on strips of paper, listing your priorities as a family or as complex as a grid of goals with actions alongside that detail how you will achieve them. Find what works for you and your family and factor in a healthy balance of personal, partnership and family-centered priorities.

Ten years, five tips, and lots more to learn. The journey continues….

One love and ‘Happy 2018’.

By Cal-I J. Muirhead

(Check out some of my personal stories at www.justcallmecal-i.com)

The post Ten years, five tips, and lots more to learn: 5 top tips for a successful marriage – by Cal-I Muirhead appeared first on .

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This last weekend my beautiful wife officially entered her third, and final, trimester of this – our first pregnancy.

I can’t believe we’re already two thirds of the way through this journey. It’s already gone so fast – and I’m sure this home straight, final trimester, will no doubt now go even quicker (speaking from my perspective at least, since I get the impression it may well get to the
stage for my incredible wife where she’s pretty keen for the whole pregnancy thing to be done for the time being!).

So, with the ever-nearing birth and subsequent plunge into parenthood slowly but surely approaching, I thought I’d write down some of the thoughts that have been going through my head recently. Some are more practical, and more immediate – while others are looking further ahead. Hopefully my random thoughts and musings will be of some sort of interest, and maybe will ring true to other dads/dads-to-be out there…?

  1. What sort of personality is our daughter or son going to have? – Will they exhibit more personality traits from their mum or from me? And how early will their personality start to really appear?
  2. Have we bought enough baby paraphernalia yet…?!
  3. What will our lives, and our marriage, look like once there’s one/several children in the mix?
  4. Does it matter that I’ll be rubbish at helping with their maths homework?
  5. Will I/we be able to raise them to be inquisitive, kind, respectful, accepting and loving people?
  6. Will they get as excited by Christmas as I do?
  7. How do I find the right balance of sharing moments and snippets of my kids’ lives with family and friends, and privacy, in a world more and more driven by social media and living out every aspect of one’s life online?
  8. What if they have awful taste in films and music?!
  9. Will I manage to be the positive, supportive, loving and available role model that I want to be?
  10. Will we ever get a decent night’s sleep, or an actual lie-in, ever again…

This is obviously only a tiny selection of the many thoughts that are rattling around inside my head as I think ahead to parenthood, and to be honest mostly I just think “you have no idea what you’ve let yourself in for” – but I can’t help thinking ahead and pondering just what our
kids lives will be like from birth right through to adulthood.

But, as my lovely wife often points out – I do rather tend to overthink things. So, for now, I’ll just go back to trying to decide which plain black car sunshade I prefer out of the 827 available on Amazon…

 By Dave Robson

The post Into the last Trimester – by Dave Robson appeared first on .

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What do I mean by the term fathering yourself?

Many men grow up with absent fathers. Some dads are physically absent, and others are emotionally so, are distracted from their child by work, their own grief, rage or substance misuse, and spend little real quality time with them, and when they do, still spend time on their phone or other distractions from intimacy, rather than actually engaging emotionally or listening to their child.

Many men and boys have experienced absentee fathers on different levels, and this can lead to a sense of loss, of wounded-ness, and of an aching grief for a more fundamental connection, soulful guidance and deep wisdom that simply was not there.

Many men therefore understandably turn to women for their emotional support, programmed as we are from an early age to see women as reliable, present, emotional, nurturing (even when many… are not).

But what many will still feel the lack of is what our father’s couldn’t or wouldn’t impart.

One way to begin to fill that void is to ask ourselves what those things were, and go and both outsource them, and also give them to ourselves.

We might come up with a “shopping” list… “What I really, really wanted from my dad was… listening, affection and cuddles, quality time, wisdom, good information, company with an elder, the simple comforting sound of a deep male voice, story and lore, words of encouragement, affirmation and support.”

Some of these we can give ourselves.
Daily writing and speaking affirmations are a wonderfully powerful way to give ourselves words of encouragement and support. The power of positive affirmation can never be overestimated. Thinking about what you wished your father had said to you, (e.g. I love you; You’re a wonderful son; I’m  so proud of you ; I’m so glad you’re in my life; You have beautiful eyes; You are Beautiful… And many many more you can think of) and saying, writing them to yourself, regularly, 15 mins daily perhaps… is a super-strong reminder that, now, the person we most need to love ourselves is ourselves, our inner father. We must become our own really best and most loving dad.
We can also give ourselves a good degree of listening, again sometimes through writing and journalling;
Affection through non-sexual self touch, bathing and pampering, leisurely hair brushing, slow conscious and sensual (not sexual) dressing and undressing, enjoying one’s bed and the feel of fabrics or water on our skin.
Quality time and company: Just taking time to be with ourselves alone, going for a walk, or a date, the cinema, a meal…. with ourselves! Knowing that you’re OK to be with. Your own company is good.

Story and being read to: Well, of course reading to ourselves is a great way to access an endless supply not just of wonderful and inspiring stories, but also of men who have written them,  great wise and insightful male characters within them and, with stories that are older, the all important sense of connection down the ages to our ancestors. Going to storytelling workshops or performances or even festivals is a also great experience, something you can give… to yourself. Film and theatre are of course additional user friendly story-times.
Food and being fed? Eating really well and looking after your body is a very tangible and real way we can look after & parent ourselves. Eating crap and misusing substances is a great way to extend a sense of loss, grievance and self pity. Having an inner father who demonstrates the will and self discipline to make sure you eat your veg and fruit and look after your wonderfully beautiful body is a very grounding and physical way to know someone (you!) is really on your side. Your brain chemistry will also be bathed in nutrients rather than toxins and your morale and mental health will be hugely boosted as a result.

Other aspects will need to be outsourced perhaps, but never by manipulation. Always as an exchange, so that we know we are giving it, cleanly, to ourselves and more importantly have the power to do so. So rather than unconsciously or consciously manipulating another person to become our surrogate father figure…..If we seek a father figure for words of wisdom, or advice… we can pay to go on workshops with great male teachers, attend the myriad of men’s conferences or festivals.
If we need loving contact and touch, we can seek and pay for therapeutic massage.
If we seek, daily in the home, the wonderful honey-flowing sounds of a wise male voice, we can pay for and listen to audio CD’s of Robert Bly or other men’s movement speakers, or men who speak and teach brilliantly about those things that matter to us (from car maintenance to Mozart, from woodworking to dance, from acting to architecture).
If we need even more listening, and who can say they don’t, then paying for therapy is one very powerful way to give it to yourself.

We can also seek to attend  male mentoring programmes (if we fit the bill) created by organisations such as A Band of Brothers. And we can find and attend a men’s group or set one up.

Of course we can still get (and give) hugs from friends (male and female), still chat and have company with them, still ask them to listen to some of your “stuff”, and still enjoy the informal company of older men, elders and friends. As long as we don’t ever expect them, or subtly demand them, to fill any voids.

In the end, we have a choice… an empowering choice… to let go of needing our fathers to be what they simply couldn’t and will never be, and to then decide what to do next. The next best option (or even the best option) is to go self sufficient and to be the very, very best dad you can ever be…. to yourself!

By Jonathan Brown

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Since creating MFF, hair – and more specifically afro hair, has become an unexpected focus point. Before I became a father I never really put too much consideration into woman’s hair; how it’s managed, looked at and perceived. But since having my daughter and looking into the natural hair world I have become much more aware of what hair means to a black woman. I am SO conscious of my daughter’s perceptions of beauty. She’s only 2 but already she is seeing princesses with long flowing European hair and she is starting to realise that her hair isn’t like that. It’s heart breaking to think that the images she sees in mainstream media of princesses don’t look like her. We try to counteract that by restricting her consumption of the typical Disney princess films that show her images of people that don’t look like her. Books like Daddy Do My Hair are a God send but we need more!

When Afrocenchix asked me to be on a panel to discuss natural afro hair I jumped at the opportunity. The discussion will be on Tuesday 13th February 2018 from 6:00 – 8:30 PM at The Africa Centre, 66 Great Suffolk St, London SE1 0BL.

I’d love to see you there. You can purchase tickets here and all the information is below!

Elliott

There’s been much talk about afro hair not fitting into mainstream beauty ideals, of some textures being favoured above others and of men not finding women with natural hair attractive. But how much of this is true?

By popular demand we’ve put together a panel of opinionated men to tell us what guys really think about curly hair.

Healthy refreshments provided. Email info@afrocenchix.com for more information. Please note spaces are extremely limited so book as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.

You can purchase your tickets here below (with a goody bag featuring a full sized product.) 

About the speakers:

Joycelyn and Rachael founded their award winning natural hair company whilst still at university. They remain at the leading edge of natural cosmetic science and run events and workshops on cultural issues as well as hair science and maintenance.

The Chair:

Jacqueline Shepherd is a Sky TV Presenter best known for her work on What’s Up TV, a series she has also been Assistant Producer on for three seasons. She’s been the face behind numerous campaigns including the Get Your Frock On campaign for Breast Cancer Awareness.

The Panel:

Jeremiah ‘SugarJ’ Brown is a Croydon based poet. He has performed at a range of venues including the Roundhouse, Southbank Centre, and Birmingham NEC Arena. He is a Barbican Young Poet, a member of Spit The Atom poetry collective and one of the faces of Nationwide’s ‘Voices’ ad campaign. Other commissions include St Paul’s Cathedral and Totally Thames. His poetry has taken him to several festivals including Lovebox, Citadel and Walthamstow Garden Party.

Adé Akins is a marketing professional, content creator and a firm believer in creating to add value to the world. Ade is also the founder of Adzvice, a social enterprise that exists to bridge the ‘knowledge gap’ with a focus on personal and business development. Through digital content such as blogs, the Adzvice podcast and events, Adzvice exists to bridge the ‘knowledge gap’. Follow him on twitter and instagram: @ImaAdeAkins . Discover more about his platform and join the community at: adzvice.com & follow @adzvice across social media.

Elliott Rae is the founder of www.musicfootballfatherhood.com, the parenting and lifestyle platform for men. He is also a Diversity & Inclusion specialist currently working on Central Government strategy. Elliott has written on diversity issues for established platforms like The Independent, been featured on the BBC, and regularly speaks in the media about issues affecting black men and fathers. Elliott Rae has been married for four years and has a beautiful 2 year old daughter. Not surprisingly, Elliott enjoys music, football and fatherhood!

Ayo Disu (Disunomics)

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My first impression of the book Nia and the Kingdom of Celebration, just looking at the cover, was that it was a brightly coloured book that looked very well illustrated centred around children and the lead character would be a young girl of what seemed to be African descent.

The story takes place on Earth when Earth was one land with 5 different, nations living in harmony.  I found this approach both interesting and also informative to children reading this book as most children under 10 years of age maybe weren’t aware that the planet Earth was once one land that has since split to become Earth as we know it today.

The story centres on the young girl named Princess Nia, who lives at the centre of the Earth known as the Kingdom of Fragrant Flowers, her love for flowers and her relationship with the children of the other four nations.

I found myself becoming more and more intrigued as to what would happen next as I read the book as did my 8 year old son whom I encouraged to read the book also.

He said that he found the book interesting and liked the fact that the main character was of African descent.  He said he enjoyed the illustrations and liked the message that the book conveyed, which to him was that even though people may have differences there is always something that can bring them together.  With this book what brought them all together was their children, initially, then it was due to the fact that Princess Nia had given each nation a packet of seeds, which once planted, eventually sprouted and grew so big that they were able to protect each nation from the terrible stormed which tore the earth into five different countries.

I think this book has a beautiful message and is written in a way that isn’t boring to the child, nor to the adult.  It is a very difficult feat to write a book that intrigues both the intended target, the child, and also the parent but Philip Robinson has managed this quite effortlessly.

With regards to the author’s intended target, even though my 8 year old son read the book with me and found new words to learn, my partner, who is a secondary school teacher, believes that the book may be targeted at a slightly younger age group.

After first completing the book I thought it may prove to be a lengthy read for a child but, my son enjoyed it and even if it was read to a younger child over a number of nights, if this book is used as night time reading, I believe the child would be intrigued to find out what happens next due to the way the story flows.  At first it is an exploration of a young princess’ world of happiness, flowers and fun times with her friends which then turns into how a young princess accepts her role as a leader in trying times using the teaching of her elders to persuade her parents to join her in song at the height of their plight.

It would be interesting if this book was the first in a series of books, with each book focusing on each of the children from the other nations.  I think it is important to have text such as these for our young children to teach them that our differences are a learning opportunity rather than a reason to cause a divide.

Written by Saffa Kallon

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The first year of university was pretty good, and I enjoyed 2014, the year after we got married and went on loads of holidays but wow what a year it’s been. MFF has grown to an unbelievable level and although I always knew this would be a thing, I genuinely didn’t think it would happen so quickly. I’m sharing this story because I think it’s important to talk about what consistent hard work and finding your true purpose can achieve. It’s not always been easy though so I also want to share what I’ve learnt about self-care and how to find a balance between professional success and personal wellbeing. I hope this inspires you to pursue your dreams in 2018.
When I launched this platform on New Years Day on 2016 it was a very personal blog, a space for me to talk about my experiences of fatherhood (my daughter was just 3 months old) and looking back, a theraputic way for me to express myself while dealing with the mental aftermath of my daughter’s traumatic birth. MFF turned into a collaborative platform pretty soon after it launched as I realised that other dads also wanted a place to share their stories and perspectives. It was obvious that this kind of platform was missing and we were plugging a very very big gap. As our About page says, the modern father is a new breed. Dads want to talk about dad stuff (and most of us just happen to also love music and football too lol).
I took the platform offline for the last couple of months of 2016 to redesign and refocus the core purpose of the website. We relaunched again on New Years Day 2017 and had a great few months publishing some quality content. And then my life changed. On 10th July 2017 I wrote an article for the Independent about black fatherhood. On the day it was published, the article was the second most read article on the Independent’s website and it was shared 17,000 times within the first week. It went viral on Facebook and Twitter and took on a life of it’s own. I have never experienced a period like it during the the week after the article was published and I don’t think I’ve ever worked so hard in my life to stay on top of things. I was inundated with emails and requests from all over the world. I had so many messages from people saying how they related with the article and how it struck a chord with them. My experiences resonated with people and it sparked conversations on numerous media channels about the black fatherhood experience. I even remember listening to the radio one day and hearing them talk about the article and referencing quotes; surreal doesn’t even start to describe it. That article went along way to change perceptions of fathers and black men as a whole. I am so blessed that I could articulate an issue that so many others were experiencing. The article only took 20 minutes to write and I truly feel like God blessed me and rewarded me for the hard work and sacrifice that had gone into building this platform.
The contributing team continued to grow and we published some really popular, real and hard hitting articles. Two of the most popular being ‘Why I embrace being a widower and a single father’ and ‘Would you feel comfortable discussing periods with your daughter?’.
Things snow balled since the Independent article was published and in August the BBC came to film us and we ended up being one of most watched videos on the BBC website that day. We were on the front page of the BBC website, being called the ‘Dad’s version of Mumsnet’ and once again, life went mad!
Since then I’ve been invited to speak and be on the panels at some great events. I’ve spoken to audiences at Nationwide Buidling Society HQ, BNP Paribas Bank with Being ManKind and Inspirational YOU. I’ve been interviewed on podcasts such as Off The Cuff, The Good The Dad and The Ugly and The Healer Hiphop. I’ve also been featured in a Buzzfeed article about black fatherhood for Black history month and Know Knowledge even made a video all about my story.
This widespread coverage has meant that when I go to events and introduce myself to people, they have often heard of MFF, that is truly mind baffling to me.
This year we have reached thousands of people and helped change the perception of fatherhood. We have shared stories from many fathers and grown the contributing team to 15. My team is strong and we have a great group of very talented men and fathers who write extremely insightful, honest and vulnerable articles on fatherhood, music and football.
MFF has become bigger than me and although I want to ensure that my personality is still at the forefront, I have become more comfortable with stepping back and handing over the creative reigns to others. I am delighted to have recruited our first intern who has been excellent in helping to package and present our content. I am so so thankful for what 2017 has bought. I truly feel that after years of searching and grinding, I have found my purpose and this is exactly what God wants me to do with my life.
So what have I learnt this year? The main thing I’ve learnt is that when your are pursuing your true purpose and work really really REALLY hard consistently, the universe will conspire to do some amazing things for you. But I’ve also learnt that self-care is important and a balance is needed. For a month around October I was feeling quite overwhelmed, and looking back, I was definitely stressed. My body was telling me to slow down. I had to start eating better, exercising and getting more sleep to protect my physical and mental health.
My plan for 2018 is to continue to grow MFF while finding some more personal balance. I want MFF to be THE online destination for fathers and I whole heartedly believe that we will become that in 2018. Thank you to everybody who has been a part of this journey over the last 24 months and here’s to another fantastic year!
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