Far from home

The plight of children in Afghanistan prompted Pippa Haywood to compile a poetry anthology to raise money for aid. Harvey McGavin reports on the campaign while, below, Cliff Yates offers ideas on using the poems in class

Millions of words have been written about Afghanistan since September 11. Few are as well chosen as those contained in Poems for Refugees, a collection of more than 100 poems, some put forward by celebrities and others specially written by well-known poets, reflecting on the plight of those forced by war to flee their homes.

The book was the idea of Pippa Haywood, a familiar face from television sitcoms, best known for her role in The Brittas Empire. Pippa decided to do something after a news report on the television brought home to her the contrast between the lives of her own children and those living in Afghanistan.

"My young children were bounding around in front of the screen while on the television there were pictures of two children scratching around in the dust trying to dig out grains that rats had buried there just to get something to eat," Pippa explains. "It upset me so much that I wanted to do something more than just burrow into my pocket and send some money."

She started writing to friends involved in showbusiness, asking them to nominate a poem, and she was heartened by the response.

Soon she had more than 100 well-known names nominating their favourite poems, including author J K Rowling and actors Joanna Lumley and Ben Kingsley and singer Bono. What's more, she had been promised newly written poems by Tony Harrison, Ben Okri, Andrew Motion and others.

Originally, Pippa wanted proceeds from sales of the book to go to War Child, which helps young people in countries affected by conflict. But then she found out about the TES-UNICEF Children Helping Children campaign and wanted to find a way to help both causes.

Under a special offer from publisher Vintage and The TES, for every copy of Poems for Refugees (pound;6.99 including pamp;p) you buy through our special phone line, 0870 191 9932, pound;1.20 per copy will go to the TES-UNICEF appeal and pound;1.20 will go to War Child's work in Afghanistan. By contrast, only pound;1.20 will go to charity from copies bought in bookshops. For the next six weeks we will also be publishing one poem a week from the book plus teaching tips in TES Teacher, and teachers and pupils will also be able to hear an audio recording of the poem by the writer or a celebrity on our campaign web pages www.tes.co.ukafghanistan

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