Last weekend the children had an early bath so we all came downstairs to spend an hour reading before heading to bed. The children are a little spoilt with new books as we receive a steady supply through the post, but one that D spotted straight away was Red Alert! by Catherine Barr and illustrated by Anne Wilson.
The book tells the story of 15 creatures that are on the IUCN Red List and tells you a little about them, the reasons why they are threatened and gives some ideas on how you can help. We read the book, and it’s fair to say that the children were horrified by the reasons that some are threatened – the fur trade and the idea of eating monkeys was something that they just couldn’t get their head around.
They looked at the things they can do to help and spotted the ‘hold a cake sale’ idea. We had not too long ago been to a Macmillan Coffee Morning so they hit on the idea of having a coffee morning. I assumed they’d forget but the next morning, when they bounced in at 6 am D asked if they could have their coffee morning that day. We agreed that we might want to give people a bit of notice so we settled on the following weekend (today). They made some simple posters and we sent a video invitation with the poster to family.
We then had a think about what else we could do and we thought it might be a good idea to tell our guests a little more about the animals they wanted to help. D chose the Bonobo monkey and E the Northern Rockhopper Penguin. Over the course of the week, they made information sheets, drew and painted pictures, made some Hama bead drinks coasters to sell, made some small cakes and chose some raffle prizes. They’ve learnt a lot about the two animals and where they live and the reasons why they are threatened.
When we woke up today we were under a fair bit of snow and, despite best efforts, we couldn’t get the car off the driveway. Thankfully around 10am the snow started to clear so we didn’t have to cancel it! Whilst we were setting up the table a neighbour, Mark Draycott, who is an author donated a signed copy of his book, A Hole in Serenity, which was very exciting.
Family came round with a variety of cakes and biscuits to donate and raffle prizes and gamefully listened to the children as they told them about the penguins and the bonobo, buying tickets and cakes and drinks coasters.
Throughout the day we had a succession of family and friends arrive to sample a cake or two, enjoy a coffee and to learn a little more about the northern rockhopper penguins and the bonobos.
I’m really proud of the children and how much they have learnt – they have both been so engaged with this work and I think we will possibly end up turning it into a bigger study. They have, so far, raised just under £130 which we will be splitting between bonobo.org and birdlife international. We will make the donation in a day or two once the final donations have arrived. The project has massively inspired them and we have watched videos of the animals and learnt more about the bushmeat trade, the issues posed by China’s zoos (and the poaching of bonobos). We saw some amazing and breathtaking footage of the northern rockhopper penguins as they jumped up the rockfaces and the children have seen and experienced the work that goes into organising an event.
And, hopefully, a little ripple of awareness will leave my children and help inform and educate others around them about the threats posed to these magnificent creatures. I hope they remember the effort they went to today and the reasons why these amazing creatures are in danger.