Saturday, December 30, 2006

Wormholes in Wonderland

Wormholes in Wonderland

  • 24 December 1994
  • From New Scientist Print Edition. Subscribe and get 4 free issues.

THE NORTH POLE, A DECEMBER SOMEWHERE NEAR YOU: "My customer base has gone up fivefold in less than a century," Father Christmas explained to his assembled subordinates. "If it wasn't for the new X/MAS ultra-paragigaprocessor, I'd never be able to maintain my extremely tight delivery schedule. But now, at last, all my problems have been solved."

A loud explosion echoed around the underground ice caves. A dishevelled Vice-Gnome for Computing rushed in. "Major hardware failure in the X/MAS ultrawhatsit, Santa," he said, panting.

"What happened?"

"Algorithmic gridlock. We were running the travelling salesman program to optimise the delivery route, and the flash memory flashed. The computing requirements are growing exponentially with the number of PASCUs we have to visit."

"PASCUs?" asked Santa.

"Personal Activity System Consumer Units," the Vice-Gnome for Marketing answered. "Previously known as, um, let me see, children."

Santa shook his head sadly. "I should never have sent you gnomes to business school. Why do we need to optimise deliveries, anyway?"

"The sleigh is running perilously close to the speed of light as it is. Unless we choose the shortest route, we'll never be able to visit every PASCU on Christmas Eve." Computing flopped into a chair.

"That's not the only problem," the Vice-Gnome for Distribution added. "The sleigh is travelling so fast that the reindeers' energy requirements are skyrocketing, and Rudolph's nose has turned blue with cold because his metabolism can't keep up. I really do urge you to consider my memo proposing that we stagger deliveries over several weeks. Our business is ridiculously seasonal."

"I agree that something must be done," said Santa. "But I refuse to abandon my traditional role."

"Well, there's always Finance's plan to change our corporate structure to a chain of subsidiaries owned by Claus Holdings plc, based in the Cayman Islands. That way the group as a whole can avoid taking responsibility for late deliveries."

"No," said Santa, with a nasty glint in his eye.

Marketing backtracked rapidly. "Right, I can go with that. Preservation of corporate image, yes, yes, very important, yes, of course."

"Desperate times," said Santa, "demand desperate measures. "We must leapfrog to an entirely new level of technology, one with the capacity to solve all of our problems for the indefinite future."

The Vice-Gnomes for Production, Marketing, and Finance nodded. "I like the idea," said Marketing. "But what exactly do you have in mind?"

"I'm dreaming of a relativistic Christmas," said Santa. "I've been keeping an eye on the physics journals, and over the past few years a lot of potentially useful new concepts have appeared."

"We're a product-oriented corporation," said Finance, worriedly. "We're geared up for manufacture of Personal Activity Systems, not for R&D."

"On this occasion, as an exceptional measure," said Santa, "I am willing to bring in outside consultants. I shall secure the services of Hawkthorne Wheelstein, Chartered Relativists." Santa dismissed his Vice-Gnomes and pulled a cellphone from his beard.

THE NORTH POLE, SOME DAYS LATER: Amanda Banda-Gander, Hawkthorne Wheelstein's salesperson, stabbed at the brochure with a beautifully manicured fingernail. "l recommend a boundary across which no matter or energy can return. It's called a black hole."

"Because it's black and things fall into it?" Marketing hazarded.

"More or less. Things do fall into it, and can't then escape, but it actually gives off radiation, and looks red to someone on the outside."

"And a white hole?"

"Like a black hole but reversed. Matter comes out, but it can't get back in."

"Ah, I see. And when you join the two together, you get a one-way tube?"

"Known as a wormhole, yes. What's more, it is a tube that goes outside the normal Universe altogether - a cosmic short cut, connecting two regions of space like the handle on a briefcase. So Mr Claus can carry the black end, as we call it, on his vehicle, and arrange for the white end to materialise inside each dwelling that he visits. No more sooty chimneys, and no trouble at all getting stuck inside central heating systems."

"Fantastic," said Santa. "But how do I get out again?"

Amanda smiled. "By using a second wormhole, of course. And if you buy the black and white holes separately, together with a special linking module, then you can make a substantial efficiency gain. Just as black holes constantly suck matter in, so white holes constantly spew matter out. We can customise your white holes so that they emit an endless stream of toys."

"Personal Activity Systems," said Advertising.

"Sorry. And wrapping paper and ribbons, thereby solving all your manufacturing problems at a stroke."

"I like the sound of that," said Finance. Production was less sure - it looked like she might be out of a job.

"Conversely, black holes can solve forever the problem of disposing of unwanted wrapping paper and ribbons."

"And unwanted Personal Activity Systems," said Marketing sagely. "They all end up in the dustbin eventually."

"True. You could recycle almost everything if you wanted to."

"This is all very well," said Santa, "but our most urgent problem is one of time. The faster-than-light sleigh has not yet been invented."

"No, but the warp-drive sleigh has. Our Enterprise model has proved to be especially popular."

"Warp drive?"

"According to relativity theory, matter can't move through space faster than the speed of light. But, and this is the neat bit, there's no limit on the speed with which space itself can move. So here's what I suggest - the sleigh can sit at rest in a small bubble of space, and we will arrange for the bubble to flow at superluminal velocities through normal space. I know it sounds like science fiction, but Miguel Alcubierre at the University of Wales College of Cardiff has recently shown that it is entirely consistent with modern physics. Admittedly, it does violate the 'weak energy condition' that requires all energies to be positive. But that's a purely technical difficulty that can be overcome using the Casimir effect, which creates negative energies between two parallel plates in a vacuum." She waved her hands dismissively.

"Supersonic flight produces sonic booms," said a gnome from the Legal Department, wary of possible third-party lawsuits. "Does a warp drive produce gravitic booms?"

"No, it's guaranteed free of gravity-shock-wave emissions," said Amanda, rather too glibly.

"I don't like it," muttered Legal's gnome to Santa worriedly. "Even if Hawkthorne Wheelstein indemnified us, we could be held responsible if they go out of business."

"That's a good point," said Santa. "Do you have any alternative solutions to our scheduling difficulties?"

Amanda pursed her lips. "Well ... there's our latest range of products. Time machines." She waited as the idea soaked in. "That way, you can stagger deliveries throughout the year, while making sure that every single item is delivered on Christmas Eve."

"How does this time machine work?"

"We have several models. The simplest is the moving wormhole, invented by Michael Morris, Kip Thorne and Ulvi Yurtsever in 1988, and based on the twin paradox of relativity theory. If an object travels very close to the speed of light, then time, as experienced by an observer moving with the object, slows to a crawl relative to that experienced elsewhere. Imagine two identical reindeer, Donner and Blitzen. Donner remains on Earth, and Blitzen heads off into space at nearly lightspeed, returning forty years later as measured by an Earthbound observer. Donner has aged forty years, but because of this time dilation Blitzen has aged only five, say.

"Morris, Thorne and Yurtsever realised that by combining a wormhole with the twin paradox, they could get a time machine. The idea is to leave the white end of the wormhole fixed, and to zigzag the black end to and fro at just below the speed of light. Seen from inside the wormhole, both ends age at the same rate. But from outside, the black end ages more slowly because of its speed. This time differential means that the passage of time is different if you go from one end to the other through the normal Universe, or through the wormhole itself. In fact, if you travel through normal space to the black end and then dive through the wormhole, you end up in your own past. You can read all about it in New Scientist, 28 April 1990, if you don't believe me.

"There's another approach that we're working on at the moment, which should be operational very soon. It was invented by Richard Gott in 1991, and it involves using two cosmic strings - thin massive objects whose existence was first predicted by some grand unified theories - that pass very close to each other at near lightspeed," said Amanda. "And we've got some new methods coming along that don't need any singularities at all."

"Brilliant," said Santa. "We'll take ten of everything."

THE NORTH POLE, DECEMBER 2994: Santa sat at his computer monitor, studying the time travel schedules, frowning. A thousand years had passed, and still deliveries for 1994 had not been completed. There had been teething troubles. The wormholes were always being coned off for repairs, and the contraflows were a nightmare. The sleigh was getting totally clapped out and spent most of its time in the garage; sleigh rides were constantly being cancelled because reindeer were getting time-travel sick. Leaves kept blowing into the wormholes - the wrong kind of leaves, apparently.

But what the heck. Santa relaxed and cracked a smile. There was literally all the time in the world to get the system working. He sipped at a glass of sherry and nibbled a biscuit. Suddenly his peace was shattered.

"Emergency! Santa, quick, do something!"

"What's happened?"

"I know we've only a few time machines here and now, but because all of our deliveries happen on the same Christmas Eve there are billions of white holes, accumulating all the time, on Earth in 1994. The topology of spacetime is becoming so entangled that baby universes keep budding off, and I'm worried that one of them may take the Earth with it."

Santa suddenly realised that he had never seen this particular gnome before.

"Where's your superior?"

"Um, gone on a course about intellectual property rights."

"Don't lie to me. Bad little gnomes don't get their Christmas presents, remember?"

"Oh, all right. Er, he's gone to see the birth of Christ."


"It's become a very popular tourist attraction since the invention of the time machine, Santa. All the major historical events have. The Sacking of Rome, the Battle of Hastings, the signing of the Declaration of Independence."

"You're telling me that my gnomes are using my time machines to bunk off work and go see the historical sights?" yelled Santa.

"Um, yes." The gnome looked embarrassed. "They do take Him presents."

"Idiots! The inn at Bethlehem will start to resemble a football match with all those gawping gnomes piling up! Do you recall any reports in the Bible about thousands of gnomes paying their respects to the infant Jesus? Bringing gifts of gold, frankincense, and My Little Pony?"

The gnome hung her head in shame as Santa raged. "You mindless incompetents have created a cumulative audience paradox!"

He paused, reflected, simmered down. "Except that in the real Universe, you don't get paradoxes. Hmmm." Santa chewed on the problem for a while. "Of course! The many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics must be valid. Each time shift carries us into a new version of the Universe, coexisting with the original but separated from it along some totally new kind of dimension."

"Oh. So that's alright, then."

"Well, I don't see why it should cause us any serious difficulties. But until science has fully mastered the intricacies of parallel universes, well, jaunts to see the Nativity are out. Do you understand?"

The gnome hurried off, relieved. Santa returned to his schedules with a vague feeling that he was missing something.

A BILLION PARALLEL NORTH POLES, A BILLION PARALLEL DECEMBERS: "My customer base has gone up fivefold in less than a century," a billion parallel Father Christmases explained to their assembled subordinates. "If it wasn't for the new X/MAS ultraparagiga processor, I'd never be able to maintain my extremely tight delivery schedule. But now, at last, all my problems have been solved ..."

From issue 1957 of New Scientist magazine, 24 December 1994, page 22

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Merry Christmas from AVIF / Envirowise

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! From all at AVIF.
A Christmas card should be for Christmas and not for life.
Most of the 1 billion cards thrown away every year will still be in rubbish tips 30 years from now.

Do something special for the environment this Christmas - send an Envirowise e-card.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Exempt Charity Status

Our Christmas Wishes to you all.
The UK's HMRC (Her Majestys Revenue & Customs) has now granted us Exemption and accepts ABLe Volunteers International Fund (AVIF) as a charity for tax purposes, reference XR99385, with effect from September 2006.
All payments and donations now received from UK Tax Payers will be eligible for Gift Aid payments.
Rulings for Gift Aid are also available on our website
AVIF wishes everyone a most prosperous and productive 2007.
Merry Christmas !

Thursday, November 30, 2006

World Aids Day 1 Dec

Wear a red ribbon on World AIDS Day and encourage others to help raise awareness and challenge prejudice.



Friday, November 24, 2006

Gift ideas for children from

» More great offers at

Every purchase counts... each gift purchased generates a donation for AVIF.

Top Toys for children this Christmas

Every purchase counts so don't forget to forward this on to your friends and family.

Nintendogs - Dalmatian and Friends

This fun and innovative game is suitable for all ages.  It's just like having your own dog; buy hair shampoo and brushes and keep your dog entertained with a frisbee. It's not all fun and games though train your dog and don't forget to take him for a walk around the park!

Available for Nintendo DS for only £29.99 from GAME.

5% commission goes to AVIF.

Every purchase counts so don't forget to forward this on to your friends and family.

The Chronicles of Narnia

The Narnia Chronicles, first published in 1950, have been and remain some of the most enduringly popular ever published. The best known, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, has been translated into 29 languages! This slipcase holds all 7 titles.

Only £29.74 from Waterstone's.

Earns 6.5% for AVIF.


Every purchase counts so don't forget to forward this on to your friends and family.

A Christmas offer from Adams Kids

Adams Kids have some fantastic Christmas offers including 3 for 2 on great items, including dressing outfits and tops, nightwear and accessories from Spiderman, Dora, Bratz and Thomas the Tank Engine!

9% commission goes to AVIF.


Visit and help us fundraise this Christmas, every purchase results in a donation for AVIF.

Pass this on to a friend and every purchase they make will raise funds for us.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Give the Gift of an Education





Children everywhere have a right to a basic education.
Education will revolutionize a child's whole life, bringing permanent change and removing the curse of poverty.
Most Kenyan children are either orphaned or their remaining family cannot afford the costs of education.

One of the aims of AVIF is to link sponsors with the children our volunteers verify each year, to enable them to continue their education.

Our Penpal Scheme allows children to keep in touch using aerogrammes (approx 70KSh. each or 52 pence).
Allowing your own child or family to keep in touch is a fantastic learning experience and will open up the world to both penpals, promoting tolerance, acceptance, humility and kindness.
Your sponsorship money will pay for uniform, shoes, books, stationery, school fees, exam fees and general costs for the child.

Cost of Sponsoring a child
£ 15.00 per month
Minimum period of 1 year

For further details on AVIF and gaining tax benefits from your sponsorship gifts, please contact us.

Kindest regards
Alison Lowndes
Founder Trustee
AVIF is an exempt charity
Skype : avif_volunteers_in_kenya

Saturday, November 18, 2006

More photos

More photos from the programme this Summer .. (Annabel, Matt and Kelly in LDK School, Nakuru)

Friday, November 03, 2006

Upgrade schmupgrade

Ok ?.. whats the thing with video / graphics cards .. I've got a P4 256Mb laptop and an AMD Duron 504Mb pc .. neither of which can get access to SL without upgrades.
NVIDIA / GeoForce ?
Can you upgrade a laptop without a specialist .. I consider myself well able to take the top off a pc but wouldn't want to mess with a laptop, maybe I should give it a go (famous last words of the PBKAC) since otherwise we're going to be unable to get into Nonprofit Commons.
Any comments welcome
Signed "the outsider Roxylifer Graf"

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Space Weather

Check out the current sun-spot now bigger than Neptune !!
Serious weather's coming our way when this one flares !!

Update November 2006

White Rabbits ! White Rabbits ! White Rabbits !
We need all the good luck we can get this month having just put in the application to ask for exemption of our little kitchen table charity, from the Inland Revenue (HM Revenue & Customs), simply to enable us to become eligible for GIFT AID (which allows UK donors to obtain tax relief and an extra 28% on top of all monies given to AVIF).
This could be good news to our Child Sponsorship Manager, Miss Rebecca Wilson, who spent a month in Nyakorere, Kisii, W Kenya this Summer with the orphans of one our hosts.
In addition AVIF is being considered for an ONLY CONNECT Award to allow us to visit and learn from www.BESMO.Com, now associated with Hugo Russell Ltd of Park Royal, London. BESMO is considering helping us with international trade of Kisii's soapstone, the Maasai's jewellery at base camp in Oropile, and all the various groups we've contacted regarding kenyan crafts.
Since AVIF is currently too small to be registered with the UK's charity commission, requiring more Trustees than we have managing volunteers ??? we have decided to spend more time on looking for sustainable funding, the Holy Grail for charities. It is difficult to find funding when not registered but there are lots of avenues to take and lets face facts - bureaucracy will not feed the children. I also continue to offer online volunteering alongside www.NABUUR.Com so any hosts of this Summers Volunteer programme who have not sent in a project proposal to NABUUR please do so to
I'd also like to wish Sharon AK (Managing Trustee in Nairobi) a successful networking trip to the US on Friday.
Flying is far easier in the virtual world, the internet makes the world very small, infact its makes worlds ! Unfortunately you need the hardware to get in so once we've upgraded graphics card for laptops?? we'll be hopefully networking virtually too with, thanks to Beth Kanter.
Back to the keyboard ....
Kindest regards
Alison Lowndes
Founder Trustee

Thursday, October 26, 2006

This is a cool site

AVIF are being offered virtual office space in the Nonprofit Commons area of this virtual world.
Over a million residents are already registered with the population on SL rising by 10-15% every month.
It has its own currency, the Linden Dollar, which you can use to trade in anything from land to tshirts, and convert to real money.
The American Cancer Society just organised a Walk-a-thon on SL and raised $40,000, thats real US$$$$$$ !
Wish us luck and come visit us soon.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Entry from a 2006 Volunteer

Testimonial from Una, a 2006 volunteer :

My experience in a small Kenyan community where I spent 5 weeks of volunteering sparked my interest in social problems within poor and uneducated communities. I was exposed to the issues of HIV and AIDS, as well as the different views towards gender. Gender differences put females in the communities at an increased risk of contracting HIV and other diseases. The lack of choice and knowledge to have fewer children is creating more orphans and a poverty circle impossible to escape. I worked at a school raising AIDS awareness and noticed an incredible amount of misinformation, myths and rumors about HIV/AIDS and other serious issues. At the time I lacked the knowledge to best deal with these individuals whose lives have been surrounded by death due to poverty and disease. The community I was in places great value in people with white skin. Myself and the other volunteers were seen as a means out of poverty and away from disease. There was very little belief in one’s own self to battle poverty. I felt a tremendous pressure to pass on my knowledge to influence the community for the better. I wish I had the knowledge then to best approach these situations, so to make a maximum positive impact.

AVIF offers sustainable development and assistance in projects highlighted during volunteer programmes, with the help of, to allow communities to learn to battle poverty themselves.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Joining NABUUR

Just a quick note to let you know of our latest synapse, having found NABUUR and understanding their huge potential to aid our joint aims.
Get involved if you have some time to spare for purely online volunteering.
Many thanks to George H (

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Learning Curves

Today's been a real journey through RSS feeds, feed readers, beta (bee-ta or betta) software (like Yahoo's new mail beta), verifying site for sitemapping with Google, trying to create a file for upload to a place I can't upload to, etc. etc.

In line with my new mantra displayed left of page, I'm off out to rid my computer-induced stupor, and while I re-boot so all the wonderful Firefox add-ons can kick in gently without making my process list as long as my arm and my poor little AMD Athlon 4 cough and splutter.

As simple as it all is (so i'm told), I still don't know how to get RSS feeds into my new Wizz Reader.

If I have visibility and there are readers please socially network my RSS !

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Many thanks to all our volunteers for a real budget-version “first” volunteer program.

This will be the first of our Newsletters. The main site remains with our Flash-based host, Moonfruit, so please visit for updates though we are endeavouring to go purely HTML to allow us to cater for vital accessibility and alternative functionality needs i.e. visually impaired viewers, users of older internet browsers, etc.

I'm totally over whelmed by the positive things that have come out of this Summer, for a taster, Rebecca just uploaded 171 photos onto the Yahoo site, direct link from Photo Gallery on website. - fantastic, especially Amos the security guard in a spiderman mask, and Pam's new shoes.

AVIF is now blogging to increase visibility of the main website, you can input comments @

We have joined forces with www.Cashback-Rewards.Co.UK, an Organisational Member of the Institute of Fundraising, for another way to raise money. AVIF receives a share of the commission from retailers involved such as Tesco, AA and American Express plus up to 95% of the commission cashback on your shopping. Cashback-Rewards boast a shopping directory with 600+ high street brands including ASDA, RAC Amercian Express and Harrods.

Similar to our BT site

Cashback will pay us £10 for each "friend" we refer so please forward this. In addition the owners of Cashback are kindly developing an HTML website, available soon, no change to website address.

Running with London Marathon - with UK Charity Commission still far from reachable due to our "kitchen table charity" size, registering as a Marathon Charity will be impossible. We can still offer support to runners, though. We’ll keep you posted.

Volunteering Handbook - this is now available for viewing to all enrolled volunteers. We endeavour to Invest in our Volunteers, and will always respect your views.

eBay & PayPal project for international trading is changing course. After an indepth cost-analysis, we have found it would be far cheaper and therefore far more beneficial to the communities to set up AVIF's own webshop. All proceeds will go to the craftsmen and women though AVIF will start to trade in its own right to raise funds to cover essential costs of volunteer programs. We are under advice on setting up a trading subsidiary, and slowly disappearing under the paperwork !

Womens Support Groups with Rebecca Lolosoli / Madre. Another project to fundraise for. As yet we have been unable to gain a response from Madre but wish to continue this project for the sake of ladies like Emily and Grace at LDK’s School in Nakuru.

AVIF are now a Master Distributor for EasyKard, who provide us with ATM cards for each Kenyan liaison and community group selling goods online with us. VISA back the cards, charging a small fee to set up and maintain but offer the cheapest method of UK-Kenya fund transfer.

Next volunteer programme is scheduled for December / Jan 2007 and will include homestays, visit to host families rural villages, teaching and safari. We have a new host at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro, mentoring street children originally rescued from Nairobi. Due to onset of examinations in late January this program will be more suited to corporate volunteers i.e. backed and funded by employers.

Re-registering with UK Charity Commission - after problems with KPDP in Nairobi we have almost completed paperwork and expect to hear from the Commission by the end of October. Once registration is obtained this will open the floodgates to major funding opportunities and growth of our little network.

Many thanks again to our 14 wonderful volunteers. I have not received much feedback (Matt, Becca and Bev excluded) and would appreciate stories, photographs from anyone involved.

Next Newsletter due October 2006.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Rocket Science

AVIF Volunteers in Kenya

I know I'm lucky, my children are picked up at 845 and driven to school by the mother of the boy I bring home in the afternoons. It allows me to sit down at the laptop from 9am and begin the day trawling through emails, listening to conference calls, learning about new media and now updating blogs.

This morning I decided that would remain our static portal for volunteers and visitors who want to know more about what we do and why and how. Its a hosted, but almost hidden, website so of course we need this blog to get the word out but also because AVIF itself is far from static.

So many new things happen every day. My children ask me what I did at each school pick up and I'm normally too busy mulling over the issues that arose in the past hour, to even answer (guilt at being bad parent kicks in at this point).

In my head AVIF progresses, I see it happening, growing, branching out, but then the costs add up and progress is shelved as we have no money. END

This blog is going to help the growth of AVIF, and show just how innovative it is, faced with battle after battle. My Mantra has always been "Have my cake and eat it too", I just share it with a lot more people now.
If you can't beat them, go around them, adapt, but keep your goal in sight. Determination / stubbornness call it what you will, it demands progress.

eBay and PayPal
Events yesterday totally re-wrote my plans.
The 7 community craft groups that have been formed in Kenya since this Summers volunteer program, are slowly sending over details of the beautiful products they make, so we can sell them on their behalf via eBay's 200 million global users. Unfortunately the whole system was shut down yesterday by a Mr W from somewhere in West Yorkshire. I don't know this man, have never met him and hopefully never will, but he bought a £5 graphical calculator from me over a month ago via eBay and is claiming I sold it faulty. Following protocol, PayPal has suspended both my personal and the charity accounts, meaning we cannot post a single Kenyan craft item in auction until Mr W gets his retribution, or his £5. Of course the calculator was in perfect working order, having been used on many occasions in the physics lab at Leeds University. Unfortunately its my word against his and the 1000+ Kenyans involved in this "Trade Not Aid" project are again being held to ransom.

I'll pay the man his £5 but not before he's realised the consequences of his pitiful actions. In the meantime, the real issue, eBay and Paypal's hold on our progress, has been solved. AVIF will now open its own webshop, provided by Shopcreator Ltd of Leeds Tel: 0845 12 11 400 an e-business & portal solutions company. It seems ideal, especially when we worked out that even with charitable rates eBay would take 35% more of the Kenyan craftspeople's profits than ShopCreator. That figure, scarily, does not include Paypal's cut, although we'll still ride piggy back on them to allow buyers to pay by credit / debit or through PayPal !

The next issue is attaining the heady heights of Charity Commission registered status, apparently opening the floodgates to thousands of pounds of monetary benefits. As Founder Trustee of AVIF I am proud of my inherent lack of respect for bureaucracy. I have been battling for registered charity status since March 2006 and have had constant knock-backs. Some of the incidents are entirely comical, including adopting a Constitution where our Aims and Objectives were actually written by the Charity Commission ! Of course they have a slight inkling of what we do, they know that my mother is also a trustee, which apparently is "terribly suspicious" she was delighted to hear. It is also a major issue that if my Mother and myself fall out, who will be the 2nd signatory on the cheques, or if one of us are away who will sign, since Sharon lives in Nairobi ?
Does the CC have a point, I guess so, except that all our banking will be done entirely online.

More recently we have been asked to produce a written pledge for £1000 because we cannot apply for registered charity status unless we have a mimimum £1000 in our bank account. Unfortunately we cannot legitimately accept that pledge until we have registered charity status. Catch 22. Of course that pledge could be from anyone, Mr W of West Yorkshire even. What counts, apparently, is that we've satisfied the minimum requirements of the Charity Commission .. (note - must add that to our Aims and Objectives).
I quote "I note that the Chair (a title given to me by the CC) is to receive an income from the organisation. Please could you provide the minutes at which this was agreed, along with details of how much she will be paid. As any related trustees have to leave the room when a decison is made in which they have a vested interest, the meeting would have been inquorate. How was the decision made that a job existed and that she was the best person to do the job?"

I'd switched off mentally after reading the word "minutes" (a procedure 100 years overdue for binning), and after looking up the word "inquorate" I realised something.
Registering with the Charity Commission is not "innovative", nor is it compulsory.

We have over 200 photographs on our Yahoo hosted photo page for people to see exactly what we do. We are real people, helping real people, with real compassion. The fact we won't be a registered charity will not affect the children in Kenya, although it may affect the adults that believe God will appear with computers and electricity one day.
I hate labels but we are a true kitchen table charity, with one aim, to help. That leaves our options open to help in any way we can. We won't be able to apply for grants but we won't be bogged down with the paperwork and expense to do so either.

Having been graciously offered the training course for free, I hope to have the new webshop up and running soon. It isn't rocket science. I know because I've studied rocket science and the mechanics ARE difficult, albeit eased by a good graphical calculator, available on eBay very cheaply!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Corporate Social Responsibility

By working in partnership with AVIF you can improve the skills and competencies of your employees and increase your brand awareness whilst making a positive contribution to your CSR and good citizenship obligations by :
  1. Allowing staff to take extended leave and be a staff volunteer on one of our programmes
  2. Integrating a development programme - sustainable community and environmental projects plus an adventure phase - in your in-house school leaver or graduate training programmes
  3. Engaging AVIF to design and deliver bespoke leadership and/or team development programmes
  4. Supporting our fundraising activities
  5. Organising your own fundraising events on our behalf
  6. Matched Payroll Giving before December 2006 with Grant possibilities up to £500 (UK only) . Please go to Payroll Giving Link on the website and download the full guide.
  7. Charity of the Year schemes - your company could adopt AVIF programmes for a year or more, and develop a targeted programme that involves staff, customers and suppliers
  8. Sponsoring specific elements of our work by providing funding, skills and/or materials
    For more information on why we need your support, please email us on .

Running a Marathon for AVIF

Some reasons to run for AVIF
Why run for charity?
Opting to run a race for a charity is a fantastically rewarding experience. Even with the weeks of gruelling training that lies ahead, you are guaranteed to get a lot more out of your training and race than you need to put in! Not only will the sense of achievement at training for and completing your race be amazing, but the fact that your efforts will help a worthy cause too is a truly rewarding feeling.

Here are our top reasons why you should run with AVIF.

Saves AVIF money
Charities with guaranteed places have costs associated with buying those places from the Marathon. If you are lucky enough to have secured your own place through the race’s ballot, opting to use your place to run for a charity means that the charity will not incur the costs of that place. What you raise will be largely profit, with only a certain number of things – for example the general admin costs – having to be covered by AVIF.

Provides you with a purpose for running
Running just for running’s sake may not be enough reason for some people to take on a race. You may look at the challenge and think, ‘What’s the purpose of actually doing it other than just getting to the finish line?’. But raising valuable funds can be your very reason for doing it – although you’ll definitely derive some self satisfaction from completing the race itself, too.
MotivationWhen the dark nights have set in and the prospect of training in the cold and wet doesn’t quite seem appealing, you might be tempted to give it a miss or even consider pulling out of your race. However, if AVIF is relying on you, you won’t want to let them down, so there will be an element of compulsion to make you continue with your training – which may even give you that extra push to complete the distance on the big day.

Personal charity goal
There may be a personal reason for you wanting to run for AVIF. Running for AVIF may help you feel like you’re doing your bit that is closest to your heart. You might even be able to encourage one of your friends to run for AVIF too.

Support network
AVIF offers tremendous support and back-up to ensure that you get to the start line in the first place. They provide great support pre-race so that you are well prepared for the big day.

Gift aid benefits (UK ONLY)
If you make the decision to help out AVIF by raising funds, UK taxpayers can also benefit us even further by registering for Gift Aid, allowing AVIF to receive an extra 28%, which can make a real difference.

Helps raise awareness of AVIF
High profile race events such as marathons are great opportunities for AVIF to raise awareness of their cause. During the course of your own fundraising you‘ll also be highlighting AVIF and its efforts to all of your friends, family and those kind individuals that back you.

Gets you fit
If you are just starting out in running, training for a race can be a huge challenge – particularly if it’s a longer race such as a marathon – but, provided you do it properly, you will be fitter than you’ve probably been in some time, if not in the whole of your life. So in some respects, by running for a charity, you get something back in return – a fitter, healthier and more active you. It’s a good reason as any to get off the couch once and for all!

by Simon Doyle
Fundraising Tips from RealBuzz.Com

Posted by Alison Lowndes
Founder Trustee
ABLe Volunteers International Fund
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Committed to making a better world for those children with disability, orphaned and vulnerable

AVIF Volunteers in Kenya

AVIF is an innovative online charity, working on a shoestring, devoted to aiding vulnerable children (street children), disabled children and their families in Kenya.
We are dedicated to sustainable development, delicate low key cultural exchange, volunteer placement, women empowerment & bridging the technological divide.
We strongly believe in networking and harnessing the power of the internet. We pool resources. We put together networks and are ran purely online, have no salaries to pay and no assets to maintain. All money and material-donations to AVIF are given directly to the children and schools we reach, by hand, thanks to our volunteers.

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