Hear our voices...

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

The Audacity of Hope!

'I am a firm believer in hope, a firm believer in the greater good of mankind! It never ceases to amaze me how much people can give (of their time, talents and other resources) when they know it will make someone else's life better. Yes, I am incurably optimistic and mighty proud of it!' Ladi Dariya

So, Friday the 11th of October was the day Ladi Dariya, was given a '2 minute life-line' to speak at the 25th Annual General Meeting of the Association of Maintained Girls' Schools. Speaking to Head teachers and their deputies, she expressed her concerns about the lack of  will to support girls learning in many developing countries. She encouraged head teachers to invite the TSTG team to make presentations on the plight of girls around the world, at their various schools. The following Monday, Ladi spoke at the 3rd Annual Science Conference held at the institute of Physics. Stressing the need for a 'sisterhood' of support, she hoped that the roomful of girls from twenty five schools across the UK would recognise that 'with great privilege comes great responsibility' and support the education of others less fortunate than they are. The girls applauded the idea of supporting the education of other girls. The response following these presentations has kept the flame of hope burning inside of her.

Nothing but hope and the audacity of letting it and curiosity take over ones life could have led to this! On Friday the 18th of October, Ladi Dariya was very privileged to be presented to Her Majesty The Queen at a Reception held for Youth, Education and the Commonwealth in Buckingham Palace. She also had the opportunity of speaking with Princess Beatrice who expressed an interest in the work of the CCLEF and its TSTG. This is absolutely marvellous!

The Queen and I.

On Tuesday the 22nd of October, Ladi was invited as a guest at the opening of Eltham Hill High School. The Utra-modern new school which was 10 years in building is nothing short of beautiful! A questions and answers session with students on the CCLEF and the TSTG as well as an interview for the local newspaper followed.  

Fantastic achievement Eltham!

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

The 'Thousand Schools for a Thousand Girls Initiative' is at the BigGive Christmas Challenge 2013!


The BigGive Christmas Challenge 2013

What bigger Christmas gift than to give the gift of education?

The 'Thousand Schools for a Thousand Girls Initiative'  of the Commonwealth Countries League Education Fund (CCLEF) is taking part in the BigGive Christmas challenge this year!


An astonishing number of girls all over the world still do not have a chance to complete, sometimes even start, their education at secondary school level. Prejudice, domestic responsibilities, early marriage, HIV/AIDS, poverty and the need to earn income all mitigate against educating girls. When we give education, we know the gift will shared with families and communities so your gift will be passed on way beyond each sponsored girl helping to build personal and economic freedom.

The Big Give Christmas Challenge begins at 10am, Thursday 5th of December and then from 10am, Friday 6th December and from 10am, Saturday 7th December 2013. When you give online, the BigGive promises to match your donation!

Please click on the link below to give to the 'Thousand Schools for a Thousand Girls' Initiative and give the gift of education to girls around the world!

Hurry as match funding finishes very quickly.


Many thanks,


To know more about the wonderful work of the CCLEF and the 1000 schools for a 1000 girls, visit

An incredible year: August and September update!

It has been a most fantastic year, fast-paced beyond believe! I can only apologize for not updating this blog as regularly as I ought to, and give you all a blow by blow summary of what has happened over the last few months.

August was the month to reflect on what the TSTG has achieved over the past year and make plans for the new school year which started in September for the UK. Not to blow our own horn but to help us consolidate effort in the areas that have worked and find ways to expand the initiative, we outline five key achievements over the past academic year.

The TSTG has raised over £15,000 during the last academic year from UK school children, organisations and individuals. A further £4,873.75 was raised by the TSTG co-ordinator running the British 10K!

The TSTG blog has achieved 1,629 page views from December 2012 to August 2013. Not in 'danger' of going viral but pretty impressive particularly when you know that the British Library considers the content useful enough as a resource to have archived it!

New corporate relationship has been formed with Lloyds TSB Group to develop new engaging materials for the campaign.

The TSTG co-ordinator and Madrinha Trust's Head of Communications has been named a Commonwealth Study Conference Leader for 2014. Started by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, 'the CSCLeaders assembles exceptional people from across the Commonwealth to tackle global challenges and build the relationships needed by the leaders of tomorrow'. Way to go hunh?

On Thursday the 12th of September, the eve of the London Fashion Week, the Commonwealth Countries League Education Fund hosted a fantastic Fashion show at the May Fair Hotel. Dubbed the 'Splendours of the Commonwealth', it was an extraordinarily colourful event! Showcasing designers from across the Commonwealth, the 'Splendours' was intended not only to celebrate Commonwealth Fashion but to also highlight the work of the CCLEF and to draw attention to the plight of girls across the Commonwealth. The event which was covered by MarieClaire and showed a masterpiece contributed by Jenny Packham who has designed for The Duchess of Cambridge among others, was breathtakingly glamorous to say the least! 

Watch out for Splendours of the Commonwealth 2014! It will be double the fun and raise an incredible amount!

Monday, 22 July 2013

Make a Difference Day (M.A.D) 2013!

Eltham Hill Girls' School staged another mind boggling 'Make a Difference Day'! M.A.D 2013 was as entertaining as that of 2012 only Bigger. Done in the school's brand new, State of the Art Gym, MAD 2013 featured a full professional catwalk with students from various year groups strutting their stuff.

There was singing, dancing, steel pans, fashion and accessories and of course a guest appearance by Ladi Dariya who thanked the students profusely for going to such lengths to fund-raise for the Education of Girls around the Commonwealth.

Every student brought in £1 for the privilege of participating in the various activities.

 All monies raised goes to the Commonwealth Countries League Education Fund's 'A Thousand Schools for a Thousand Girls' Initiative to enable more girls access secondary education.

What a difference £1 makes! What a difference we all make when we work together to make life better for someone else!

It was such a blast to be a part of this! Thanks Eltham Girls...keep the fire burning!


Sunday, 14 July 2013

Finding a tiny inner Murray?

I just got home from running the British 10k! I never thought I would ever use 'fun' and 'run' in the same sentence but there...I have said it! It was a 'fun run'!

I am one of those people that never train (never seeming to find the time and all!), one of those who also set physically challenging targets and just hopes for the best on the day. Incredibly too, I give myself no room to fail, sometimes taking it for-granted that I would succeed just because my mind is set on it...Hah!

This year, I decided to do things differently; I decided to take part in the JP Morgan Corporate Challenge, a few days before the British 10k trusting this to serve as all the training I needed, boy was I wrong! Although I accomplished this in acceptable time,  running the JP Morgan 5.6KM Challenge made me realise how unfit I was, how little prepared I was for the big event. More to the point, it was too late to train! I needed to let my muscles (what little of it I had) recuperate for the Big Event! But was I going to let a little thing like sore muscles deter me? No! You betcha!

Got up bright and early today all raving and excited. I had a few blisters at the verge of healing but so what? My running shoes were not what the doctor ordered...I bought them in a sale not realising they weren't meant for running till I had worn them...minor setback. So I invested in an excellent pair of shoe laces...non slip!
 A blisteringly sunny day but so what? I said to myself 'surely this is an advantage, you herded goats in worst weather with no water and no breakfast! Here you are filled up on good cereal, two bananas and a litre of water! Get on with it'.

2km into the run, the sun became unbearable! I had sensibly put on a hat and a pair of sunglasses but 5 years of living in Aberdeen Scotland kind of made sure I wasn't as 'native' as I thought! Then horror of horrors, my 'non slip' shoe lace undid itself!

Was I going to stop and fix a shoe lace? I had grown up with the fear of stopping, of losing my momentum, of finding myself being unable to start again. Somehow, I have sort of carried that into everything without being aware I had! Although it is very short, I knew there was the possibility that the shoe-lace could trip me over and possibly cause me an injury but I didn't think I could stop of my own free will and be able to carry on again...I may find rest too irresistible.

5km into the run, another runner tapped me on the back and said 'Hey CCL, your lace is undone'. I said 'thanks' and stopped and tied it. I realised that I am all grown up now, my importantly, I own my own will! I can stop and start any time! I can look around and savour the fun of running for a cause so close to my heart, I can live in the moment!

Roll out the fun! So off I went, screaming encouragement to myself and others. Finding an inner strength and a sense of fun I thought was exclusively reserved for others. Not worrying, just being in the moment! The sun became not an inconvenience but a means of seeing all the vibrant colours around me...I broke my previous years' records with a massive grin on my face!

My heart-felt appreciation to all of you for continuing to do what you do to fundraise for girl education. I know it is sometimes not easy, you are also often uncertain if a difference is made. Take it from me, you do make a world of difference.

The big question is; will I do the Run again? Absolutely! With proper running shoes, no tricky laces and some training!

Just like our Wimbledon Hero Andy Murray never gave up, lets each find our own inner Murray (in all kinds of things/ways) and make the world better for girls!

Ladi and her daughters celebrate her British10K run!


Wednesday, 13 March 2013

A Great Year to be a Girl?

This year has been declared 'European Year of Citizenship'. School children around the UK are learning about citizenship and what it means to be a good citizen.

Thanks to Lisa Cornell Head of PSHE at Sydenham High School, year 9 girls and I had a fantastic hour discussing what it means to be a world citizen. It was also a session to explore and discuss the very disadvantaged and often cruel treatment of girls and women in many parts of the world. The girls recognised the need to contribute in any way they can, to make the world better for other girls. They felt 'encouraged to take an interest in politics and the world around them as what happens in one country could snowball into others'. They recognise that with great privilege comes great responsibility.

This year gives me hope. The teaching of Citizenship and equal opportunities as well as the signing of the Commonwealth Charter gives me great hope indeed; hope that this would be a great year to be a girl! A year to be recognised as a partner in society's progress...a year to be seen as an equal (I live in hope)!

A week to Celebrate the Commonwealth

Monday the 11th of March was a wet, snowy, windy and exceptionally cold day in London (even by British standards)!

It was nevertheless, a day that made many hearts warm! It was not just a day set aside to commemorate men and women from around the Commonwealth who fought alongside Britain during the 1st and 2nd World war but also to celebrate all things Commonwealth.

The theme for the Commonwealth this year is 'Opportunity through Enterprise'. Through a mix of world music, dance and personal testimonies, the event celebrated economic innovation throughout the Commonwealth and our shared commitment towards youth, social and sustainable enterprise.

The Commonwealth Charter which 'recognises that gender equality and women's empowerment are essential components of human development and basic human rights', was signed by the 54 member countries; a triumphant closure to an amazing day!

Activities continue throughout this week at various venues to celebrate our shared heritage and common goals.