Sometimes in life you get asked to take part in something that you just know is quite special – it makes an impression on you, stays with you. The Charity Gala at Banqueting House this month was one such occasion, not just because of the glamour and fun of the evening in this historic palace venue but because how of much I learned about the amazing work of Women for Women International.
WfWI works with women in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kosovo, Nigeria, Rwanda and South Sudan where conflict has devastated their communities are where the women now take on the role as sole providers for their families. When women enrol in its programme they receive training in business and vocational skills, health education and rights awareness as well as financial and emotional support.
The evening marked the launch of a cookbook, titled Share, with recipes donated by people who are themselves engaged in humanitarian causes. There are contributions from so many well known names… Nelson Mandela, Yotam Ottolenghi, Meryl Streep, Jamie Oliver, Paul and Mary MacCartney, Judi Dench and also includes the recipes donated by women who through the support of the charity had learned to rebuild their lives. The publishers, Kyle Books are donating 100% of the profits to WfWI.
When I arrived with the fabulous team Paige Elizabeth had put together to document this event, Chris Jackson was already in full flow , running a marathon on a treadmill at the venue. Last year Chris ran 12 marathons (in 2012!) to raise awareness of the crisis and brutality of the conflict in The Democratic Republic of Congo. He continues to be a spokesman for the women of the DRC and raises funds on their behalf.
We were moved by the positive stories from Brita Fernandez Scmidt, the executive director of WfWI UK, about women who had benefitted from the charity’s programme and we laughed at the auctioneer’s skill in teasing people to part with their money for such a worthy cause. It was an amazing evening and I must say a heartfelt thank you to Paige for asking me to be a part of it.
The Share cookbook is now on sale… I already have my copy 🙂
I’m off to make Meryl Streep’s Wheatberry Salad…