A new children’s book, designed to introduce small children to the world’s big issues and aid vital charity work, is the latest work of West Belfast woman Arlene Gormley.
Co-founder of the Feeding Dreams Cambodia charity, Arlene has penned, designed and illustrated ‘2030 Not A Fairytale’ describing how even from a young age we can work to make the planet better for now and future generations.
Feeding Dreams Cambodia was founded in 2012 and offers free education and nutrition for 800 children in Cambodia’s tourist capital of Siem Reap. The charity receives no government funding and relies solely on donations, most of which comes from support and fundraising drives in Belfast. Arlene explained how the book is based on the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that recognise ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education.
“Our approach at Feeding Dreams is holistic,” explained Arlene. “ Our programmes in education, medical care, community support, vocational training, they are all interlinked, so when the UN announced the 17 Goals, it helped give us the framework and language for our strategy. Since each of our programmes can be tied to one of the 17 SDGs and the Cambodian government ratified the SDGs, it gave us legitimacy and credibility.”
“I decided to create a handmade book introducing the SDGs to young children through colourful pictures with simplistic explanations. The book was originally intended as a keepsake for my four-year-old niece Zara but the message has struck a chord with parents and teachers. I’m holding a book launch on Saturday in the city centre’s Learning Space store and all sales from the book will go towards the work of the charity.
“During the Christmas period people are very generous with their donations but it’s when all the rush calms down and we go into what we call our ‘leaner’ months of January, February that we need that extra push make sure all the children receive a proper, balanced meal.”
Arlene became a mother herself in August and is now more determined than ever to ensure her daughter Julia has a keen understanding of the world around her.
“Children are born into an uncertain and unequal world and parents worry about the kind of environment their children grow up in. It’s important to me that my daughter understands from a early age about important issues that will affect her future, like climate change, access to health and education, and the importance of equality.”
The Queen’s University graduate spoke of how the visually striking picture book was “something a little different” for the bedtime hour. “It’s a great way to sit with a child and read each chapter, look at the illustrations, it’s a great tool to show what is going on in the world and at the same time contribute to the work of Feeding Dreams.”
Arlene will be signing copies of her book at Fountain Centre’s Learning Space store on Saturday, December 1 from 10am until noon.
2030 Not A Fairytale is priced at £10. For more information or to make a donation visit: www.feedingdreamscambodia.org