A Right Royal Occasion: Heart & Soul with Princess Anne

May 23, 2017

Katie Luxton, our Programme & Funding Officer, tells us about her recent visit to Edinburgh, where she attended Heart & Soul festival with our Community Events and Fundraising Officer, Sam Cook.

“Sam and I have just returned from a motivational and invigorating Heart and Soul Festival in Edinburgh: motivational – to meet our amazing supporters, who generously dedicate their time to raise awareness of hard hitting issues such as female genital mutilation (FGM); and invigorating – to meet so many individuals and charities undertaking invaluable work to improve the lives of marginalised individuals across the globe.

Our focus at Heart and Soul was to demonstrate how literacy feels. How does literacy ‘feel’? For those receiving adult literacy training through our projects, literacy is self-esteem, empowerment, and the ability to support a family. In the metaphorical sense of Heart and Soul Festival, literacy feels like our game ‘mystery box’, which involves reaching into dark boxes to feel seemingly random items and trying to guess their identity.

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What’s in our mystery box?

  • A medicine bottle with directions for use; can you read the dosage of medicine?
  • A waxy cassava (root vegetable); sold for a fair price because of the ability to read weighing scales.
  • A mobile phone; literacy is about more than the ability to read and write. Technology plays a bigger role than ever in the ways we learn, comprehend and communicate.
  • A baby book; words may be basic, but they have a functional use. A farmer taught the words for different fertilisers doesn’t waste his/her money on the wrong one, and grows better crops.

Prevalent throughout the day was the way mystery box topics intersected with people’s lives. A Pakistani refugee explained his experience of maternal healthcare in Pakistan, and the critical – indeed life critical – importance of health and hygiene knowledge for the communities Feed the Minds’ works in. Another attendee talked of his wife’s nursing skills, and her wish to rebuild shattered communities affected by Ebola in Sierra Leone – communities such as those rebuilding livelihoods through Feed the Minds’ farming project, in Bombali District.

Princess Anne also visited the festival, and her husband Sir Timothy Laurence came to talk to us. We couldn’t get him to play our mystery box game – maybe he was told not to put his hand in to unknown boxes and guess what’s inside? However, along with many of the people we met today, he repeatedly stated the importance of our work, and certainly recognised how the knowledge we take for granted – our literacy and numeracy skills – mean the difference between a secure and healthy life for some, and the cusp of survival for millions of others across the developing world.

For everyone we met at the festival, and to those past, present and future who raise awareness and support our work, we thank you. We are particularly grateful to our faithful volunteers who tirelessly raise awareness of our work, and to the Church of Scotland Guild, who support us in partnership and collaboration across Scotland, to deliver coordinated community action against FGM.”

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