I'm warning you all now that this post is a shameless plug for one of my favourite charities.
Children and animals, they're my weak spot. Show me an animal suffering and I'll weep like a baby. Show me a child suffering and I'll weep and get mad.
Plan International is a non religious charity which offers child sponsorship in developing countries. I'd heard of them some years ago but they came to prominence with the release of the film About Schmidt. Jack Nicholson's character sponsors a child in Tanzania and writes her bizarre, rambling letters. Being a cold, hard atheist I liked the idea of a secular charity and indeed Plan are able to work with children in some countries where religious charities have no access. Win win, I thought, and so I took the plunge.
I've been sponsoring a little girl called Nadia for some time now. Nadia is the youngest of three daughters and lives in a Bangladeshi village. She's never going to have the opportunities that I had and I can't think of many worse things than being a girl in a country where boys are seen as prized possessions.
I've never received begging letters from Plan asking for more money and I've only ever received two 'phone calls. One was a call welcoming me and thanking me for sponsoring Nadia. I waited for the person at the other end of the line to ask me for more money but they didn't. They just wanted to say thank you. I was incredibly touched.
The second call came last week. The man at the other end thanked me for my continued support and hesitated a bit. I knew what was coming. "I wouldn't ask," he said, "but do you think there's any chance you could take on another sponsorship? We've lost a lot of sponsors lately."
I told him that I would look into my finances and see if I can take on another child. I also told him that I would spread the word and ask my friends, family and workmates if they were interested. I'm also asking you, dear readers. If you can't help, ask a friend. I know money is tight for all of us this year but I hate to see a wonderful charity who never hassle me go short.
I hate to ask. I just don't like to think of all those children who don't have anyone to care. If any of you have a few spare bob - and it's really not that much - please think about sponsoring a child.
Thank you. Plug over.