Pictures Round the House: “Early Morning Grasmere”

Here’s another in the series of posts looking at pictures that are round our house – it encourages me to look at them with fresh eyes and to remember the stories behind them.

Until Tuesday this picture hung in a corner of the sitting room, but due to a slight moveround in pictures (to accommodate Mr FD’s Ride London medal and map, that I bought him for Christmas) it has been relocated to next to the door of the sitting room. As I moved it, I smiled to remember the history behind it, and knew that it was going to be next in the series.

Here it is (rather badly photographed, I’m afraid)


Early Morning Grasmere, by W. Heaton Cooper

Here’s a better picture (not by me)

This link is to the Wikipedia page on William Heaton Cooper, who was a renowned Lakeland artist, who painted the scenery of the Lake District in all its changing moods, in its glory and beauty. I grew up with Heaton Cooper prints around the house as both my parents loved the Lakes, and walking in the fells. I even remember that, on the day of Charles and Diana’s wedding, Mum & Dad escaped all the hype, and went climbing in the Lakes – they walked up Cat Bells

Later, Mum bought a souvenir Wedgewood bell of the Wedding – to remind her of Cat Bells!.

When they were courting, the Lakes would be the place that they went to with their friends. I imagine that – as long as someone had a car – they were reasonably easily accessed from Liverpool, which is where Ron was a trainee doctor, and Mavis was teaching, after her training in London.


Here is a photo of my parents, before they were married, on a peak in the Lakes – don’t you love the fact that Ron is dressed in a tie (to go climbing?!) and Mavis is in her skirt!


Another day – another mountain…but still in a tie and jacket! Mavis is wearing her lovely jacket (which I took over and wore for a while when I was 17 or so, and so-called “hacking jackets” were in style. )

Here is a photo of them both on their wedding day


Ron in his Flight-Lieutenant’s uniform – he did his National Service in the RAF – Mavis looking beautiful in white lace. I don’t know, but I would imagine that they spent their honeymoon in the Lake District!

When I was younger we would often be taken walking in the Lakes – although I’m not sure how much I really appreciated it! – and I remember Dad and Mr FD bonding over a love of walking. Because of their love for the Lakes,  Mum and Dad bought a TimeShare apartment near Newby Bridge, and the bottom end of Windermere

This was to be a base for them both to go walking in their retirement years, but sadly Dad died just a year into his semi-retirement, and before Mum reached retirement age, so they never really got to use it fully. Mum still retains a week there, and goes up at the end of April, with her friends. Often my brother, who shares Dad’s passion for the Lakes and for walking, will go over too.

It was while we were staying there after Dad’s death that I bought the print, as a memorial to him. There is the Heaton Cooper gallery in Windermere and it seemed like a fitting way to remember my dear father.


Here he is in later years (still wearing a tie!!) : Ronald Alan Hardman, well loved GP, from Aintree, Liverpool. At his funeral, in a large church hall, seating, I estimate, about 200 people, there was standing room only. I recall arriving in the car behind the hearse, and being met by the Minister, who whispered to us “Don’t be surprised by the number of people…” He was so well-respected and loved by his patients, by the local community that people had turned out in crowds to pay their respects.

This is a W. Heaton Cooper that Mum has hanging in her home:

This shows Scafell Pike, and I love the moodiness of this painting. I think it is one of my favourites of the paintings that Mum has. Whenever I visit mum and see this painting I smile again, and think of Dad, and his love of the Lakes.

So, there you are. Another of the paintings around our house, and the story behind it.


Early Morning Grasmere

by W. Heaton Cooper

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A Kind-of Giveaway for Lent

Goodness me – two posts in one day! I could have put this over on Fat Dormouse – & I will probably link from there to here – but I felt this sat better on this blog than on that. Although there isn’t really that much differentiation between them, if I’m honest.

I am looking forward to Lent 2017 (only 19 more sleeps to go!) because that’s when 40 Acts starts. I have taken part in this for three years now, and I really enjoy it. Do Lent Generously is the tag-line, and I encourage you to go over & explore the site, and hopefully sign up.

But I’m also going to do something else, this Lent. A few years ago a friend gave me a box of beautiful postcards from the Bath Abbey Diptychs by Sue Symons

The BBC site says:

Sue was inspired by Bach’s St Matthew Passion to create the artwork which depicts the life of Christ in 70 images grouped together in pairs or ‘diptychs’. She embarked on the panels in 2005 as a retirement project which combines her two artistic passions: textiles and lettering.

Each of the 35 diptychs includes a text from the Gospels in beautifully decorated calligraphy, alongside a panel of needlework that offers a personal interpretation of each step in the story.“The sheer beauty and invention of the diptychs is stunning”, said Alan Garrow, Vicar Theologian at the abbey.

Panel from One Man's Journey to Heaven

“It represents an inspired marriage of the ancient skills of calligraphy and illumination with all the freshness of a contemporary interpretation of the life of Christ.”

I have kept these  postcards safe, looking at them from time to time, but really, postcards are meant to be sent, seen and enjoyed.

So this Lent, I’ll be sending these to friends I’ve lost touch with, family members and others. If you would like to receive one then please leave a message in the comments box. If you can give me some way to contact you privately (email address or whatever) then I will get in touch, so I can have your postal address.  I’ve already sent one (though the person doesn’t know it’s on the way!) but if you’d like one then please let me know. They are beautiful.

This is N° 1 already on its way to someone.

Here’s another…

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Sermon: Choose Life

Hello Dear Readers.

Here I offer you tomorrow’s sermon:


Christ Church, Clermont Ferrand: 12.02.17

Readings: Deuteronomy 30:15-20; Psalm 119:1-8; 1 Corinthians 3:1-9; Matthew 5:21-37

I think that there has been conclusive proof offered that Rob and I are children of the same era – when we read the Lectionary for today, and organised our thoughts – he for his piece in the newsletter, and I for my sermon – two words obviously sprang out for us both, as we both latched onto these words, and made the same connections. “Choose Life”, we read in Deuteronomy, and both of us thought immediately of the 1996 film “Trainspotting”. This film has been described as “seminal”, as summing up the essence of life for young people in that time and it seems appropriate to be talking about it now, as the sequel to this film has just been released. I have to admit that I have never seen the film, although it received much critical acclaim, but there is one speech from the film which has become famous, and almost universally recognised; the speech at the beginning where the heroin addict anti-hero, Renton, exhorts us to “Choose Life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a big television, choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players and electrical tin openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol, and dental insurance. Choose fixed interest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends…” he continues with a list of the must-have possessions of the era, and finishes with “But why would I want to do a thing like that? I chose not to choose life. I chose something’ else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you’ve got heroin?”

Renton’s words echo with contempt – or possibly envy – for the banality of a middle-class life; he talks of choosing possessions over experiences, of aiming to acquire everything possible, because it is the collection of Stuff that we feel we have achieved something. These things – the CDs, the washing machines, the dental insurance, even the career – they don’t make us into a useful, fulfilled person, he says, they are just a panacea, something that makes us feel that we are getting somewhere, that we are achieving something. No, these things are not for me, Renton tells us, I chose heroin.

As I said earlier, when I read the part of Deuteronomy we heard today, the words “choose life” leapt out at me – perhaps because of the reviews I have been hearing about T2: Trainspotting, but also because all the readings that we have heard today are about choices. All the readings put in front of us the stark fact that God calls us to make a choice. Not a choice of which pieces of Stuff we are going to acquire next, but rather what is the driving force in our lives? Do we indeed choose life?

In Deuteronomy, we hear Moses exhorting the people to follow the commandments that God has set before them, because it is this way that life lies. I think it is important to realise that the Commandments set before the Israelites is not just a set of rules – or a set of tick boxes similar to Renton’s list, about which one could say “Yep, done that…and that…Aren’t I doing well?” If we see them as this then they become nothing more than that panacea that makes us think we are doing the right thing, getting on with life as we should, but without any real meaning. No, the spirit behind the commandments is much deeper and broader than a tick list set of rules. They are clues and signposts to the unimaginable depth of God’s wisdom, and it is when we mould our lives around the loving essence of this law that we are drawn more closely to the pulse of God. But it is our choice: we can choose the life full of love and wonder that God offers, or we can turn our backs on it and live lives of shallow acquisition.

In the topsy-turvy way in which God so often works, the commandments that were given to the Israelites were not the constraining rigid set of rules that they are often seen as being, but rather they are setting out the way to freedom, to life, if only we make that choice when it is offered to us.

As one commentator, Alan Brehm, writes: We find freedom when we commit ourselves to doing God’s will on earth as it is in heaven; we find freedom when we live our lives in harmony with God’s justice and peace and mercy. We find freedom when we embrace a way of living that is defined by love”

In other words, we find freedom when we choose life.

At the beginning, the commandments were about – ARE about – forming a relationship with God and committing to it wholeheartedly. They are not meant to be a burden, they are not an endless list of dos and don’ts, but rather they are parameters enabling us to live a life full of living hope, lasting joy, and genuine love towards God and each other. If we view the commandments only as burdens we miss the important fact that they begin with “the good news of what the liberating God has done” As God says as he gives the Commandments, “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery,” I have brought you freedom.

But as the years passed, and humans argued and discussed, and forgot about the essence of the Commandments, then perhaps the Torah did start to become a burden. The notion of a relationship between God and humankind slipped, the good news of liberation and life through obedience was lost. Perhaps it did seem that all God had done was to give an impossible ideal to live up to, so finally people were reduced to treating the Law as a tick list, so they could say “Well, I know I’m not perfect, but at least I’ve kept this commandment, and not broken that law…”

So, when Jesus speaks to the people in the reading we heard from Matthew’s gospel, he isn’t “setting us free from the Law” as so many commentators suggest, but rather he is calling on us to understand that the laws of God are central to living in relationship with him. The Gospel of Christ is not about rules – it is about relationships and this is what these difficult sayings of Jesus are all about.

He says that anger is as damaging to relationships as murder is. If we allow anger and fear to fester in our heart, then we are killing the relationships that are at the heart of life. If we allow ourselves to hate a person – whoever that person is – then we cease to see them as human, and we do not care about them or their fate. Equally, He says that if we look at a woman, or man, with a lustful eye, we are objectifying them, and seeing them as less than human. And from there it is only a few steps to treating them badly, or ignoring their needs and wishes, because they do not really matter.

I don’t really think that Jesus wants us to pluck out eyes, or cut off hands – but these images are put in front of us to shock us into realising how important Jesus’ words are. How often have you justified your feelings of anger, or jealousy, or desire by saying “Well, I wouldn’t do anything about it…”? By suggesting that we should rather cut off your hand than objectify someone, Jesus is telling us that thoughts matter, because it is our thoughts that shape our opinions, and it is our opinions that motivate our actions.

I think that by his exaggerated images, Jesus is saying that now, rather than being told exactly what to do, and when to do it, the whole of the Law is thrown open to us. Jesus is telling us that we are being given the grown-up responsibility of observing God’s loving will in all its ideals.  In choosing life, in choosing to follow God, we are giving our whole selves into God’s hands – including the hidden parts, the thoughts and the opinions, that might well colour and affect our actions.

When I was at college, my main area of study was Religious Studies – and in one seminar we were asked to discuss the epithet from St Augustine “Love and do what whatever you please”. It was the first time I had heard this statement and to begin with it seemed a little trite and meaningless (if I dare say such a thing about St Augustine’s words!) But the more you unpack the meaning behind them, the more the words come to support what Jesus said when he reminded us to love God, and to love our neighbour. Especially when you consider the second part of the quotation from the Saint, which is less well-known: Love God and do whatever you please:  Augustine writes, and then he continues: for the soul trained in love to God will do nothing to offend the One who is Beloved.

Because we love God, and have made the choice to align ourselves with the fulfilment of God’s justice and peace in the world then there is nothing in the ten commandments that will limit or restrict us. Because we love God we will find ourselves free to love our fellow human beings, and we find that this is what we want to do. Jesus shows that God trusts humankind to – eventually – get it right. When we understand God’s love for us, and accept this love, then we and all our aspirations, desires and longings are transformed. When secured in love and transformed by unconditional acceptance, humankind is capable of doing good, true and beautiful acts. This is something that fearful rule-makers and law-keepers will never understand.

But of course, we are human. And we fail. Sometimes we fail spectacularly.

Recently I was working with some of my English language students on proverbs – we were looking at English proverbs, unpacking their meaning, discussing if they were actually true, and comparing them to the French equivalent. Did you know, for example, that in English we don’t count our chickens before they’ve hatched. In French, we are advised not to sell the bearskin before you have killed the bear. Or whereas in English you can’t have your cake and eat it, in French you can’t have the butter and the money for the butter. But for me, one of the saddest proverbs, or sayings, in English is “You’ve made your bed. Now lie in it. » That is to say – you’ve made your choice: now live with the consequences. Once your choice is made, you can’t go back on it.

Thankfully, for God, this proverb doesn’t exist. Because for Him, the choice is always there. It’s not a once-only offer, that expires tomorrow. We can choose to turn our backs on him; we can take the easy way of forgetting that our neighbours need our love and our giving; we can fail God’s will time and time again, but he is always there, offering us the choice to turn back to him, to align ourselves with him once more and to move forward towards the life that he offers. As Rob wrote in the newsletter: You can choose. Yesterday’s bad choice or your own personal history is not a perpetual contract. Every moment contains that threshold and that doorway to life.

Through all of the readings runs the theme of choice – In Deuteronomy God sets the way before us: choose life, he says; “Choose to walk in the ways of the Lord,” the Psalmist reminds us. And the Gospel reiterates again that in choosing to give every part our lives over to God – both the parts that we show to the world and the hidden parts – we are aligning ourselves with his will to bring justice, freedom and love into this world.

We find freedom when we embrace a way of living that is defined by love.

We find freedom when we choose life.

...or else the evil eyed Kitty will come to get you!

…or else the evil eyed Kitty will come to get you!

Posted in God, Just a Thought, Sermons | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Pictures Round the House: Nicolas Nickleby


I thought I might do an ocassional series of “Pictures Round our House” – it will help me to actually look at the pictures again – as I find that one tends not to notice pictures after a while – and remind me of times in the past, and the significance of the pictures.

This is a sketch drawn by an art student at Stantonbury Campus school, in Milton Keynes, during a rehearsal of Nicholas Nickleby in 1993. This was performed in 4 parts – usually one a night, but I remember one mammoth weekend when we performed Parts 1 & 2 on Saturday, matinée and evening, and then Parts 3 & 4 on Sunday. I was a member of Stantonbury Campus Theatre Company, and took part in a lot of their productions – it was my main pastime all the years we were living in Milton Keynes.

The productions ranged from two handers (I was in “Educating Rita”) to enormous productions, such as “Nicholas Nickleby” and The Mysteries – which were performed in three parts “Natvity” (Christmas 1988), “Passion” (Easter 1989) and “Doomsday” (Christmas 1989) In Doomsday, I played Beelzebub, manipulating a huge industrial cleaner, on which rode the most terrifying Satan ever – played by Mark Bell, who went on to perform with Cirque du Soleil, I think. Wonderful, wonderful memories.

I can’t remember all the parts I played in the production of Nicholas Nickleby – they were mostly bit parts (girl in sewing room, poor person etc etc) but I did play Mrs Lenville, the wife of Mr Lenville, described as a melodramatic, self-centred tragedian, who becomes jealous of the attention Nicholas is receiving as an actor, and attempts to pull his nose in front of the company, an act which results in the actor himself being knocked down and his cane broken by Nicholas. I remember little about her but that she was herself melodramatic. I still have the beautiful costume, as I had borrowed it for a school outing (to a Victorian stately home, where both teachers and children were immersed in “living history”) and during the time when I had it, the costume store for the company suffered a fire and many costumes were lost. I’m afraid I just hung onto “Mrs Lenville” and it never got returned!

The drawing itself shows Nicholas’s sister, Kate, sitting with Miss La Creevy, who was the Nickleby’s landlady in London. A small, kindly (if somewhat ridiculous) woman in her fifties, she is a miniature-portrait painter – shown by the paintbrushes on the table. She is the first friend the Nicklebys make in London, and one of the truest. The artist was , as I said, a student at the school whose theatre we used for the rehearsals & performances. He was carrying out a project, I think, and created many sketches and paintings, which he then sold – to members of the cast, and, I think, to the audience. I liked this one for its simplicity.

It now hangs outside our bedroom, on the landing, and I pass it several times a day, but rarely look at it. Writing this has been a great pleasure, as it has brought back memories of the play – amazing moving sets, the hard work, the camaraderie. Also the actor who played Mr Lenville. I can’t rememberhis name, but he was a police officer, who joined the company (possibly for Nick Nick) and discovered a love – and real talent – for acting. He gave up his job, went to drama school in Cardiff and was just breaking into the industry when he was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer, and died shortly afterwards. It was a great loss, and I know that there is a seat in the theatre dedicated to him, and possibly even a plaque too. Sad face.

In researching dates for this post, I came across a site giving all the productions of SCTC until its closure in 2005. From 1988 when I joined – and ended up playing a main part in my first play ever (which was Rita) – until its closure I performed or stage managed in 20 of the 30 plays. I wasn’t in some because they clashed with other productions that I was in/SM-ing for, with another theatre company (these included The Crucible, A Man for All Seasons, The Dresser, Assassins, a reprise of Educating Rita, and The Mysteries, two other versions.)  What wonderful memories!!

I do have to say that amateur dramatics is the biggest thing that I miss being here in France. It was such a huge part of my life in the UK, and it’s just not the same here. There’s no English speaking theatre company in travellable distance and it’s a bit sad. Still, choices have to be made…!

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A mammoth task – and some words of wisdom.

I have finished sorting out the photos on my computer!

Instead of being in date order I have now classified them into Subject folders – which makes life much easier! Instead of guessing when that photo might have been taken I can (should be able to…) go to the appropriate folder. Particularly useful if I want pictures of the cats as they were all over the place!

In the process I came across lots of photos of Dear George – although Jasper-Cat is lovely, we still miss our George so much!


Still, what can one do?!

Of course, this will only be a success if I continue to classify the photos as I save them! Otherwise I’ll end up with a backlog again…This is rather typîcal of me, I’m afraid, I sort out something, but then fail to keep up with it – my craft shelves, my ESL resources, my paperwork etc. Never mind. Let’s see what happens.


Here’s an interesting thought, garnered when listening to a snippet of The Infinite Monkey Cage, a BBC Radio programme that Mr FD enjoys. Rufus Hound, a comedian, pointed out that…

If you mock failure, you mock trying, and therefore discourage experimentation.

 I thought this was really worth noting down. So often people do mock failure, but as we know, if one’s efforts are denigrated, then next time one is less likely to try as hard. I certainly found that when teaching in primary school. Support a child who is making efforts – even if they are not succeeding – and they are willing to continue making efforts. Denigrate what they are doing, and they will soon stop trying. It happens here too – mock my efforts at speaking French and I won’t bother. Encourage me, and I’ll keep trying!


On the Kermode & Mayo Film Reveiw programme on Radio 5, there is a running theme that Mark Kermode says reassuring words “Everything is going to be okay”. However, it was felt that Tom Hanks would be even more reassuring, with his lovely voice, so they asked him to say reassuring things (I can’t find a clip on t’internet. Sorry)

However on Friday night’s “The Last Leg” the wonderful David Tennant was asked to be reassuring – in the face of the world news – and tell us that everything was going to be okay. Which he did, admirably (though using some slightly smutty language) but the words that stood out most for me were…

It’s up to us to make it okay. It’s time to be positively rebellious and rebelliously positive…

There were other such epithets – it’s worth watching

…if only for David Tennant’s lovely accent!

This is it. Back to Ang’s words

I want to have the courage to speak out for what is true and just
I want to have the strength to stop and help those in need, not pass by on the other side
I want to have the faith to say ‘this is wrong, and we can work to change it for the better’
I want to have the hope that believes things will be different
and above all
I want to have the love that says ‘OK you are different from me in some way – but I still care about you, and want the best for you’

I want to be positively rebellious and rebelliously positive.

I want to live a different way.

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A timely reminder

Ariel reminded us of Mother Teresa’s words: a timely reminder I think


“People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.

What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.

Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.

In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.

~Mother Teresa


PS Please don’t forget to help me decide.

Posted in God, Just a Thought | 2 Comments

Lend With Care – help me choose!

For a couple of years I have been interested in this charity, but never done anything about it! A blogging acquaintance who lives quite near us, Keith, has even written a guest post about it during 40 Acts in 2014.

Here I reproduce his words, so you know what the charity does:

I spent a couple of years during the early 1980s living and working in Africa, specifically in Nigeria in the west and Tanzania in the east. I recently saw a comment from one of my on-line friends, who told of his decision to become involved in a micro-financing initiative with Care International. I looked at the web site ( and immediately found that I could make a difference to a family in Africa – shades of bicycle fundi. If you ask me really nicely, I shall go into what that means and, more particularly, what it means to me, at a later date.

When in Nigeria, I was often overwhelmed by the number of beggars in the streets. Clearly, I couldn’t help all of them. Were I to give one cent to each of a hundred beggars, it would have had no impact, but if I gave a Naira to one man, it would have enabled him to buy a meal. That would have made a difference, and that is part of the reason I support Lendwithcare.

For a small investment, which will be repaid, provided the business doesn’t fail, we can contribute to the success of a small entrepreneur in Africa (or Asia, or South America) and help that person to lift a family out of poverty. When the loan is repaid, it can immediately be applied to another applicant. This arrangement appeals to me on two levels:

  1. This is not buying a man a fish, this is not even teaching a man to fish; this is lending a man the money to buy fishing tackle – he already knows how to fish, and
  2. We know whom it is helping.

When you sign up with Lendwithcare, you have access to a list of people who need funding. Behind each individual or group is a story, explaining what the person or group is aiming to do, how much cash they need to do it, and what the prospective outcome is. That makes it personal, and that’s good.

Loan amounts start at only £15. You will be told when the loan you are helping to provide is fully funded and there will be a repayment schedule. Repayments will be made to your account with Lendwithcare, from where you can use it to make another loan, donate it to Lendwithcare to help with their running costs, or transfer it back to your own bank.

We are, so far, helping three people: two men in Togo, one of whom wishes to grow his small vehicle spares business, the other needs to repair his truck so he can get back to work and provide for his family; and a lady in Ecuador, who wishes to expand her small grocery store to include a restaurant. When those three repay, that money can be re-circulated back to three new entrepreneurs – it just keeps on working.

Although we applaud, and support, other charities, none gives us quite the personal involvement that this one does. It goes beyond “your money will help people like Jim”, and says “your money will help Jim”. I commend it to anyone who will listen.

Every year, Keith and his wife Clare, offer some gift vouchers for people to take part in supporting an entrepreneur. I was lucky enough to receive one this year, & pledged that I would match it. So I have two lots of £15 to invest, and I’d like my readers to be involved.

I have chosen 6 possible people to invest in – I’d like people to help me choose by saying who they think I should support.


Mr. Sokhom is 38 years old.  He is married and has two children, 9 and 11 years old.  They are at school. Sokhom lives in Kamrieng District of Battambang Province and grows ed cassava on ten hectares. In ten months he will get a yield of 30 tons per hectare. He has been farming cassava for the last 10 years and he knows there is ongoing demand. He hires around 30 villagers to assist him on planting and chopping the cassava root and each of them earns $5 a day.  Sokhom is applying for a loan to purchase commercial fertilizer, pesticide, weed killer, ploughing costs (one hectare costs $100) and to pay wages of the 30 villagers he hires.



Gloria Angamarca lives in the community of La Esperanza, Cantón Ibarra. She is married and has two adult daughters who have families of their own now as well. Gloria has been making roof tiles for houses for 20 years now, with her husband as her business partner. Now, she is applying for a loan in order to start making special roof tiles with a special finish that are in high demand. She needs the loan in order to buy firewood as fuel for the oven and to hire two people who will help her daily. Gloria has managed over the years to build up and keep a large and varied client base who go to her with their needs, as other artisans don’t produce the same kind of tiles as her. Gloria is committed to paying back this loan in 18 months.



Pedro Ochoa lives in the neighbourhood of Santa Bertha in the Imbabura region. He lives with his wife and their 4 children. He is employed by a company as a bird feeder, but his salary is minimal, so he decided to start raising pigs as an additional income.
Pedro has requested a loan to be repaid over 18 months. He will invest $900 buying 16 piglets and $600 in feed for the animals. In 4 months they will be ready to sell, which will be a significant income for him. Pedro saw an opportunity to raise animals, and a few months ago built a trough for them. He hopes to continue raising them, expand the pig pen and save more capital.  What he wants is that his children can have a more promising future, and this is why he supports them in their studies.



Favour is a large group with 19 members, based in the Katete district of Eastern Zambia.  The average size loan for the women of this group is $205 USD.  They run small scale businesses like salaula (second hands clothes), selling shoes and grocery stalls. They started their businesses mainly to provide for their families including the provision of food and payment of school fees for their children. In most cases, the women care for orphans from deceased relatives or members of the community. (Malaria and HIV are the main causes of mortality in the region.) The group has accessed three loans from the MicroLoan Foundation and this will be their fourth loan. One of these women is Rachel Banda. She is 38 years old and has five children who go to school. She runs a grocery stall selling bathing soap, washing soap, sugar, assorted biscuits and assorted drinks. She would like this loan to top up on her business capital and order more stock for her grocery stall. She has found the MicroLoan Foundation training useful, in particular the section on setting savings goal. She believes it will help her achieve what she wants for her business. From the profits she hopes to build a house for her children.  the loan will be repaid in 6 months,



Abakorerahamwe CARE Group which can translate “Those who work together” is a voluntary savings and loan group created by Care Rwanda in 2012. The group is made of 25 members: 15 women and 10 men. The group needs this loan in order to buy more sheep and goats for resell, this way, the group members will have money to pay school fees for their children, and they will also buy seeds to do good farming. On average, the group members have five children.  Mrs Martha Uwizeyimana, a group member, (3rd lady from left to right in the picture, green dress with large flowers) explains that they came together after seeing positive change from her neighbours who had joined CARE Rwanda. She attended CARE’s financial literacy program and there, she met other actual group members. They started saving as small as $0.25/week. In the future, they would like to be a registered cooperative, and they would like the members to continue their income generating activities and pay health insurance and school fees for their children. They will repay the loan in six months



Ameer Hamza is 20 years of age and runs a tandoor (an oven usually made of bricks or clay, common in South Asian and Middle Eastern countries). He makes and sells naans and chapattis – locally eaten flat-breads – at the tandoori. He works from a shop that he owns and has been running the tandoori for almost two years. His monthly income is 17,000 Rupees ($162), on average. Ameer Hamza is single and lives with his parents and four siblings.  Two brothers and two sisters. Only his youngest sister is receiving education currently. His older brother also works with him at the naan shop. With the responsibility to provide for his parents and siblings, his monthly earnings are extremely insufficient to provide for them adequately. Hamza wants to expand his business by increasing his production of naans. However, he lacks an appropriate capital to invest in his business and has therefore requested a loan. He needs to buy additional quantities of all-purpose flour and other materials to increase his production of naans and chapattis. He is confident that he can manage to increase his sales and consequently his profits after improving his output. He promises to repay the loan in 17 installments.


So, I ask my readers to help me choose… If you’d like to name two of the candidates, that you think I should support in the comments section below, I will count up the “nominations” at the end of the month and I’ll invest in the most popular two. So please DON’T JUST “LIKE” THIS BLOGPOST: MAKE A COMMENT TOO!

Thank you for your help!

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