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Women's Work - Clare Hanbury - Globetrotting Self-Starter Who Is Teaching the 100 Health Tips That Will Keep Children Alive

03/11/2015 16:40 GMT | Updated 29/10/2016 10:12 BST

This is the fourth in an occasional series called Women's Work. It's not about "glass ceilings", struggle, gender wars and all that. Just plain and simply it's about women who achieve.

Clare is energised. Two years ago she sat in front of one of the UK's biggest software chiefs and asked for money for her fledgling business, Children For Health.

"If you can you turn your enterprise into a charity and create a board of trustees by 5.30pm today", he said, "then I have a way to fund you".

It was 1pm.

Four hours later the board was established and the charity was on its way.

Clare got her money.

Energy is a rejuvenating life force for Clare, keeping her active in some of the most deprived (and dangerous) parts of the world as she and her small charity teach children "The 100": 10 health messages for children to learn and share in 10 health topics. The topics are down-and-dirty basic: Malaria, Diarrhoea, Intestinal Worms, HIV, AIDS and so on.

Getting children to teach the basics of health prevention to other children is saving lives. But Clare adds something extra. "You can get the serious stuff over in song and dance", she says. Clare enlivens her teaching and makes it fun.

Clare started life with a drama degree from Cambridge University. She wanted to teach drama. "Drama is Learning by Doing", she says, "such a valuable way to impart information". She wanted to teach drama immediately, but ended up being inspired by the musician, journalist, and broadcaster Fritz Spiegl to take up a short-term teaching job at a school his son-in law helped to run in Kenya. Only problem - the job was for a Maths teacher.

For Clare, travel, adventure and the chance to teach in Africa overrode her own career path.

Soon after, following a stint in an inner city school in Bethnal Green, she was in Hong King teaching at the Chinese International School by day but also teaching an after hours language programme to two and half thousand young men in a hot, seething Vietnamese refugee camp.

Clare's career is not of the linear, promotion-based, "grade-attaining" kind. She goes where she's needed and along the way she has worked with global giants in the field of children's welfare - UNICEF, Save the Children and so on. She has run conferences for the "Street Kids World Cup in Durban and Rio", been mugged at knifepoint in Kenya and contracted both cerebral malaria and bilharzia. These last two requiring stays at the London Hospital for Tropical Diseases.

Importantly, she says, she always works with "wonderful people" and you get the feeling that she replenishes her energy by meeting these people and by seeing the impact she has on the children she works with.

Clare realised early on that children are the best teachers to other children. They quickly buy the logic, for example, that if you have diarrhoea you must drink more water. Many of the adults she meets fail to see this obvious point. Consequently children's lives are saved.

Children for Health is small and needs all the help it can get. But I am reminded of a quote I once saw in Anita Roddick's office " 'If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito".

And as if to prove the point, on the 20th October this year, Clare's tiny charity received the global impact award, from the Centre for Global Equality in Cambridge.

Clare is a superb example of someone who left University and simply followed her heart. Now she makes a massive difference. She is saving the lives of children in the most difficult parts of the world.

When you are not in the constant company of fellow co-workers you have to sustain yourself. And Clare does this with a seemingly endless reserve of super-charged energy and dedication.

Although continuing her own education (Clare has two Maters degrees as well her B Ed from Cambridge) there is in fact no training for what Clare does.

This is the type of work that requires you to manage the unknowable and believe that nothing is impossible.

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