Following the drum...
An afternoon with Daragh O'Malley and Yvette Leavy of the Sharpe's Children Foundation
March, 11th 2010
|I am still on the website,
the voice of John Tams has vanished, and I read about the "Sharpe
Shelters", to make education possible for the orphaned and left alone
children without hope - and I find that I started to nod constantly
about what I read here. Oh, and it says, that the office for the
"Sharpe's Children" is now open and we, (the readers) are invited to
look in for a visit, if we come by.
Well, I do know, that I will come by, having
just arranged a few days in London - time off from a demanding job -
and I feel I want to see with my own eyes what it is all about - and on
the spur of the moment I send an e-mail-message. So, a few days later,
on the 11th of March you see me in a street somewhere in London, coming
from the Underground-station doing my best to not getting lost (or
driven over by one of the cars that constantly arrive from the right
side, which is the wrong side for me) I do see a glassed front on the
other side of the street with a logo I know from the net - I have
|With such a lot of
charities and "do good"-actions by actors, politicians and everybody
else, it becomes difficult to engage yourself, I find. Who is really
convinced and involves himself in the good cause he speaks about? What
can really help? Is a charity only the whim of a famous actor, and will
it be abandoned the next day, when something more tantalizing comes up?
I had argued with myself after being home again, if I should write also about this, and that it was a main reason of my visit here, to find out, if Daragh O'Malley is to be found in that category? But in the end, I feel that I owe it to the honesty of Daragh and Yvette and the important cause of the "Sharpe's Children" to be also honest.
|As I said already,
the major idea behind the "Sharpe's Children Foundation" - to make
education possible and so give children who otherwise have no chance, a
chance to help themselves - is something I can only agree to. Within no
time, we are in the middle of a lively conversation, that will go on
for nearly two hours.
Daragh tells, how they saw in India all these children - poor, but so friendly and content, and with these big smiles on their little brown faces - the white teeth that shimmered when they smiled. And I get the feeling, that this friendliness of the poorest of the poor has hit Daragh's heart directly and in a big way.
|It's also in India, where the actors sat in a restaurant after a day of work, when they suddenly realised that at the window stood 20 or so children, pressing their noses at the glass. But where they envious of the rich foreigners? No. They smiled. And this was the one event, that finally brought the change from talking to doing - "The plan for the Sharpe's Children was hatched in India" says Daragh, with his melodious "Harper"-voice.|
|And: "India has
changed my life" he says also, and you know, that that is the simple
truth. He tells about Portugal, where they also filmed, and about a
shelter there, that he visited, and the big problems, they have - no
funding. And that in a country in the heart of Europe. But that is how
it is. And that is, what the "Sharpe's Children" can change.
Already years and years ago, when they were filming in the Ukraine, Daragh would investigate this. He visited orphanages there, and the forlorn and hopeless looks of these children are unforgotten.
|So, is he the
"face" of the "Sharpe's Children Foundation"? That makes him look away.
And it's indeed said somehow shyly: "Well, I am the founder" But for
him, it is something that is done by the actors, all of them. Like they
did, all together, the Sharpe-films, and again, you feel the strong
bond that exists between them. Never, you feel, can the "Sharpe's
Children" be a one-man-show.
|And suddenly, we talk
about "Sharpe". What is at the bottom of it? A group of uneducated
soldiers, led by one who had all these disadvantages. An orphan, coming
from the slums of London. No education. But he learns to read and write
due to the help of his officer in prison in India. And about the life
changing event that that was. And how it made Richard Sharpe, the
officer from the ranks, possible.
"What made the series such a worldwide success?" Daragh asks. "It is the camaraderie, that exists between these soldiers and that made it possible for them to do the impossible tasks they did" And how right he is. As much as Sean Bean as Richard Sharpe is in the center of events, what makes this adventures really unforgettable and uncannily truthful, is how this group of people stick together.
|Daragh has to do a telephone call and leaves for a short while. A chance to talk with Yvette, who tells about her background and that the decision to work for charities came when she was in Malawi, Africa in 2004. She was before in New York, working there. She will be in India, a country she was never before, to represent the Sharpe's Children at DASRA's Philanthropy Forum and looks already forward to it. She will visit also some existing shelters around Mumbai and becomes very animated talking about it. Strange, and touching I think, here is this young woman, for the first time she will visit India, and will she talk about the journey? The sight seeing? The marvelous country? No, what really and deeply interests her are the Shelters. Yvette is surely an asset to the foundation and with her energy she will move things!|
|Daragh is back, and we talk now about working children. "There are today more child slaves then in the centuries before" and that in today's so modern and civilized world. It's a subject that moves him deeply, and hearing him talk about it is something I won't forget. And one shouldn't forget this. How happy we can be, that our children are protected from a fate like this. And again we are back with the central point of the Sharpe's Children - education!|
|After 16 Sharpe Films, it is not sure, that another will come. The series is already legend, and it stays with us. But instead, like it is with other tv-series, of vanishing from the surface, here, it leads to something else. The next episode - I think. But Sharpe's Children will not stay an episode. I sit on this sofa here and I know, that that will not have been the last time. I will involve myself, that I know. What and how exactly? I will see.|
"Sharpe," Daragh says "is all about working together and that is the idea of the Sharpe's Children, that people are with us." Cast, crew, the fans, everybody. It is about skills bringing together, and advice from everyone, it is about volunteers who find their way to 68 Great Eastern Street, London, helping in the office, and as important as donations are, this is as important.
"What is the essence of the Sharpe series?" Sgt. Harper asks. "Together, we can do this"
Please go to the Website of the Sharpe's Children Foundation www.sharpeschildren.com.
There, you will find a wealth of information, an online facility for donations and lots of ideas for support.
If you live in the UK, and want to donate, you can also send a cheque.
I made some inquiries about tax-reduction for donations from Germany. Due to a new EC-law, this is possible. (I give an extra explanation for that on the German Site). This law is valid in every EC-country, please ask your financial authorities!
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upload rg/ 24. August 2010