Tag Archives: education

Back to blogging: my surprising #top3 posts list

I ended up taking a much longer break from blogging than I planned to. Like most things, once you get out of the habit, it’s much harder to re-start. (Although I think I did have a fairly good excuse – getting my thesis finished!)

But I’ve been thinking it’s time to start regularly blogging again. Thinking about blogging has led to me reflecting on my experience of blogging so far, and in particular some of the surprises I have discovered in seeing the popularity and responses to some of my posts. In response to that, and to kick start my return to the blogosphere, here is a list of my “top” (i.e. most commonly read) blog posts and the possibly surprising reasons why they have been popular …

#1 Can we please stop saying “Charity Begins At Home”?

This is by far my most commonly read post. Every single day for the past year, it has averaged between 20 and 50 views. This intrigues me. It was one of my earlier posts, and was born out of my own frustration at the frequent misuse of the saying. What the post’s popularity seems to suggest (along with the fact that most people come to it via a google search) is that although the phrase is frequently thrown around, a lot of people don’t know what it means or where it comes from, and there apparently aren’t too many answers to those queries available! I’m glad I can provide a helpful information service of some kind. 😉

#2 Beauty in the Dry Season

This post has been popular for quite a different reason. Written as part of my travel reflections, my intention in writing it was to reflect on different types of beauty out of my experience of visiting Victoria Falls in Zambia at both peak water time and during the height of the dry season. Unfortunately, some of my photos showing the lack of water during the dry season were picked up by a couple of other blogs and used as “proof” that there was a desperate drought in Africa and even as a “sign” of the judgment of God on the world!! It was quite bizarre receiving comments and emails from people all over the world, some wanting to check whether the photos were real or photoshopped (they are absolutely real), others wanting to warn me that they were being used without my permission (which bothered me less than the fact that they being used in a way that directly contradicted what I had written about them), and others congratulating me on getting the ‘truth’ out (which was disturbing because I had done no such thing!) I hope those who continue to come across some of the false information actually read what I wrote and get a different perspective.

#3 How does the church respond to #yesallwomen?

This was a post that I felt very vulnerable writing and so it was quite confronting to realise it had been much more widely read than my posts usually are. But it is also the one I am most pleased got attention, because of the ongoing discussions it started. Written in response to a twitter hashtag, it contributed to a conversation that has brought out into the open the experience of too many women that too many men were unaware of. It is certainly the post that I have had the most in-person conversations about and it has been a privilege to hold other women’s stories as they have been prompted by my vulnerability to share their own. It has also been incredibly encouraging to have people seek to respond to the ‘awareness raising’ that blogging can do with tangible, practical action. I trust this will only continue.

Three very different posts, and three very different reasons for the attention they have garnered.

What have I learned from them?

From the first, I’ve learned that you never quite know what is going to be helpful for people and that blogging can apparently have an educative role. From the second, I’ve learned that once you put something on the net you can’t control what people do with it and that blogging can get you into unexpected trouble. And from the third, I’ve learned that being open and vulnerable has incredible power and that there are always people who can hear you and say “me too.” I’ve also learned that it is possible for blogging to transcend the digital page and open up amazing and unexpected opportunities. All of these are helpful reminders as I re-embark upon this journey of “thinking out loud.”

So, just in case anyone has wondered why I’ve been quiet, or whether I’d given up blogging altogether, this post is my way of saying “I’m back” and of getting myself back into the habit of posting regularly again. I’m planning a similar mix to before – responses to current issues (whether global, local or just in my own head!), travel reflections, theological ponderings, political and social musings and lots of questions of all kinds. It’s a useful process for me and I’ve missed it. I hope some of you might be looking forward to engaging with the things that I think out loud about that interest you along the way. And I’m looking forward to seeing what unexpected responses are yet to come …

How can you make a difference to world poverty this International Women’s Day?

Tomorrow, March 8, is International Women’s Day and if you’re wondering why that matters, you should read this post from last year. Globally we still have a long way to go to see an end to oppression and injustice for women and girls. But if you want to make a difference, or you want to help end world poverty, there is one key strategy I urge you find out more about and consider contributing to.

I recently celebrated a milestone birthday, and while I wanted to invite a whole bunch of friends to come together and celebrate, I didn’t want them to feel like they should give me gifts, particularly when there really isn’t anything I need. So instead, I asked them to make a donation towards something I am particularly passionate about: the education of girls. My friends blew me away by donating over $2,200 to a project focused on this significant strategy.

Why the education of girls?

For me personally, it brings together a number of my passions. As a church pastor and a theological college lecturer, I’m a teacher – that’s my vocation. I’m also a lifelong student – I have been privileged to have access to education at primary, secondary, tertiary and postgraduate levels. I’m also a woman (obviously) and I’m passionate about seeing girls and women reach their full potential. Add to that I’m a traveller who has visited communities around the world struggling with poverty, and I have seen first hand how the best strategy we know of to break the generational cycle of poverty is education, and in particular, the education of girls. And finally, I’m a follower of Jesus who believes that I am called to proclaim and work for His peace, justice and righteousness in the world today.

Currently there are up to 65 million girls in the world denied education simply because they are girls. And that is a problem not just for them personally, but for their communities, their nations, and ultimately, for all of us. Because educated girls are not married off while they are still children. Educated girls are less likely to have children while they are still children themselves. The children born to educated girls are 50% more likely to survive past age 5. The children of educated girls are much more likely to go to school themselves. Educated women are able to support themselves and their families, and much more likely to invest what they earn back into their communities. It’s a win-win-win-win-win proposition. It really should be a no brainer.

So here’s my challenge to you this International Women’s Day.

Find out more about how the education of girls can transform the world and consider how you can play a part in it. Here are some ideas for you to watch, listen to, think about and contribute to:

I showed the video below from the US government at my birthday. It gives a brief but powerful overview of some of the incredible stats on how educating girls can make an exponential difference.

Another helpful overview video comes from the girl effect.

Earlier this week, I joined with politicians, celebrities, and everyday women all over the world in posting a Throwback Thursday photo of myself at school.

Melinda Year 3
Me in Year 3*

This was in support of Up For School, who are hosting a number of IWD events around the world, and have what they hope will be the world’s largest petition – one I’d encourage you to sign – urging our governments to keep the promises they made in 2000 to ensure the right to education for those who are denied it.

There are plenty of organisations working in developing countries to overcome barriers to girls’ education. Making a donation to one of them will make a huge difference. This is a link to World Vision Australia’s Education for Girls project.

And finally, if you’ve got a bit more time to learn more, watch one or more of these inspiring TED talks by people like Ziauddin Yousafzai (Nobel Peace Prize Recipient Malala’s father) or Liberian Nobel Peace Prize Recipient Leymah Gbowee.


* Just in case you’re wondering, I’m not screwing my nose up in the photo because I’m at school. I loved school! But as my fellow Aussies should understand, there was a fly on my nose I was trying to blow away when this photo was snapped. True story!