It's almost embarrassing to admit that after a lifetime of care and education work, I had not been aware of the work of Children's Hospices until very lately. The world of children dying of life-limiting conditions is not one to sing and dance about after all.
And yet when I came across the world’s first Children's Hospice, Helen House in Oxford I was moved to deep emotion by the amount of joy, brightness of being and sheer good heart that I experienced there. And I thought 'people should know about this'. So I wrote a little allegorical tale about a wee bear that, despite spending most of his life asleep, much like the children with life-limiting conditions, he has an adventurous and colourful inner life that makes all around him feel special in his presence.
I crowdfunded the first run of books and sent 10 copies to every Children’s Hospice in the UK as a Christmas present in 2016, 54 in total. Helen House's manager, Kathy Patching, wrote a beautiful testimony about the experience of 'meeting' Humbert:
"I knew that there was something very special in Humbert from our first ‘meeting’. The beauty of the art work is of course obvious, but the tale is so meaningful to children and families who are living through a very difficult journey."
Out of the blue, the organisation "Tellers without borders ' who work with children in the world suffering trauma, saw the value of the book being translated into other languages and have funded the next wave of books to travel to children with life-limiting conditions in Spanish, German and Croatian speaking countries for Christmas 2018.
This Kickstarter campaign now needs your support as fresh translations call for greater circulation and with that new costs of printing and postage are the only thing holding back distributuion. Can you contribute to the next wave of books bringing the good news ?
'Humbert ' is about the effervescence of hope in the face of adversity, it is about celebrating children's hospices that offer bright and honourable respite and resting places for children who despite their all too short pain-filled lives engender generosity and charm in those around them the world over.
- 'Key to the efficacy of this project is to build on the response from the previous crowdfunder and get feedback from the hospices and hospitals to hear how the books are being received. In response to the first edition of Humbert who travelled to the UK hospices, I received many letters of thanks and appreciation from the hospices. For the Humberts travelling further afield, a "Humbert Bear likes to doze" website will be created with a section where people can leave comments to feed back their experience of the book. Further books will also be available for anyone who wants them on this site, as well as prints from the book for decorating the walls of the hospices etc.'
With your help Humbert can continue travelling around the world reminding us all of the importance of choosing joyful presence in the darkest of challenges.
Risks and challenges
The more people know about the powerful presence of Humbert, the more people want to know about this joyful presence in the face of trauma.
The very nature of the care for children with life-limiting conditions is discreet, personal and heartwarming. This campaign is about celebrating this largely unseen generosity. It does not seek to bring any undue or invasive publicity to what is usually a very private experience between these children with short lives and their nearest and dearest.
It would fly in the face of such care for these hospices and resting places to get gratuitous publicity as a result of this campaign that might effect this discreet love of children only with life for a short time.
- (60 days)