I first met Hala at a tented settlement in central Bekaa, East Lebanon. She had been here for a year, one in a million refugees who have fled Syria. They call her 'the orphan'; her tomboy walk and winter hat make her easy to spot. She speaks with a disturbing nonchalance; a hardness, common amongst many refugees I have met. Her hair is falling out.
The storm of protest that rained down on Copenhagen Zoo following the killing and butchery of Marius, a healthy young giraffe, did not discourage its officials from announcing a few weeks later that a pride of lions - maybe even the ones to whom Marius was publicly fed - had similarly been killed...
We all want children and young people to feel safe and loved as they grow up, surrounded by people they can trust at time of innocence. Sadly for some the reality is very different. Children who become the victims of sexual predators who groom them, coerce and exploit them are left emotionally and physically scarred for life by these horrific experiences. They need careful support to help them towards recovery, provided by organisations like Barnardo's. Just as importantly, we need to take steps to stop these terrible crimes before they happen, and bring perpetrators to justice.
We spent a few days visiting disability schools, employment centres, rehabilitation hubs and other Hiroshima initiatives. On the last day we (the UK), NZ and Denmark presented to a rather large audience. This was followed by a seminar on the three areas mentioned. I was in the group on 'working' as one chooses to.
Monday is United Nations' World Health Day, where those of us working to improve the health of people across the globe traditionally deliver a clarion call to galvanise people into action. It's a moment when, to paraphrase Kofi Annan, we remind world governments that health is to be seen not as a blessing to be wished for, but as a human right to be fought for.
We can only ever be constructively dissatisfied because the scale of the task remains so great. Millions of farmers are lining up to join Fairtrade, but they can only sell as much on fairer terms as the companies and the public buy.
I thought that we lived in an era that looked back on the horrors of Rwanda and Yugoslavia and said 'never again' and meant it. Sadly I think the crisis in Syria proves all of us wrong and we are all collectively guilty for allowing the country to collapse as it has. Three years on and we see both a biblical level exodus combined with a levels of violence that few of us could have imagined in our wildest dreams. Over nine million people, nearly half of the country, forced from their homes and on the move exposed to a new life of uncertainty, poverty and too often despair.
I'm halfway through my Live Below the Line challenge - a campaign which highlights the challenges faced by 1.2 billion people who live in extreme poverty every day - and frankly, I'm shattered.
In a changing economic context, most charities are being asked to be more entrepreneurial, but I'm coming across more and more CEOs that are tired of hearing the term and Chairs of Trustees that don't seem to know where to start. So what does 'entrepreneurial' really mean in the charity sector?
Every night, when we sit down in front of the television, the inevitable adverts pop up. That generic charity appeal that makes the room go silent, where a small, semi-naked, helpless child crawls across our television screens and the only thing we can do is awkwardly squirm or hope that our satellite box has enough minutes to fast forward.
I knew once mother hit retirement age I would become a family carer. So I lived my life - went to university, socialised and partied hard, travelled the world and met interesting people. Whether in local politics, national conventions or international conferences I have made my voice heard whether people wanted to hear or not.
It seems an impossible feat to capture with mere words a performance as stellar as that of The Cure last Saturday (and I can imagine, that of the first gig on Friday), so strong and pronounced was its identity and drive.
I'm at a very tough stage as the cancer recently spread further in my bones and liver and also took up residency in my lungs again. Add to that the fact that my body is so weak from constant chemotherapy for over a year, the need to control the cancer is more vital than ever. If this current chemotherapy doesn't work, my options become very limited.
We have been opposing the Japanese whaling fleets in the Southern Ocean since 2002 and we have undertaken ten campaigns with numerous ships and more than a thousand volunteers to non-violently intervene against what we have always insisted is illegal whaling. Japan filed suit against Sea Shepherd USA in the U.S. courts and had Sea Shepherd and myself charged with numerous counts of contempt for which we were found not guilty. Japanese whalers destroyed a Sea Shepherd vessel and injured numerous Sea Shepherd crew-members.
In spite of the uncertainty we currently face, the endurance of my people throughout conflict, and in particular the resilience of women, gives me hope for Afghanistan's future. I pray that they have learned from this last decade and can use that learning to build a better future for us all.
Many disabled people require specialist equipment, technology or other assistance in one way or another, and it is not almost possible to get this from NHS services, Access to Work or other government schemes, and so they need to apply to charities for assistance.