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Project HappyChild NEWS

1st December 2004

[for ongoing updates, see Latest Site News]

Appeals and Projects helping children across the world

... the longest journey starts with a single step ...

Hi there! A huge welcome to all the new people who've signed up for Project HappyChild News over the long months since December 2003 ..... and hello again to all our regular visitors who have supported this site for so long :)

So much for provisional deadlines! When we did the December 2003 Newsletter, 1st December 2004 looked *so* far away! but of course this year has whizzed by, and we're still up to our ears in pagebuilding here. Curiously the *hardest* thing was not being able to be in touch! and we'll be writing a bit more regularly in future :)

... the longest journey starts with a single step ...

We've made *massive* progress on the site during 2004. Have to begin by giving our unremitting thanks to Chami, whose "Live Counter" has finally given us a stable visit-counter across all areas. This has made *so* much difference this year - instead of the count zeroing several times a day (and having to be reinstated, with all the time that used to take), we can *finally* see where we are on an ongoing basis (just over 16 million visits so far).

We've also (finally) coded all our pages separately (so we can see what's happening where on the site) and after liaison with Amy Minkler at Systran, all main pages are now available in 14 languages, including Swedish and Arabic. The "languages" factor of the site is going to be somewhat bigger than we expected! (but more about that in the next Newsletter).

SCHOOLS INTERCHANGE: [completed!] has now expanded right across the planet. Our thanks to many Governments, education authorities and local school-nets whose links make schools accessible right across major continents as well as the many tiny islands dotted around the world - Caribbean, USA, Canada, Mexico, Central America, South America, the Pacific, Australia, New Zealand, Africa, Europe and Asia, England, Channel Islands, Orkney, Skye and the outer Hebrides ...

PROJECTS HELPING KIDS: [completed!] this area too has had a massive overhaul and we've finally been able to condense the links into five main geographical areas (Africa, the Americas, Australasia, Europe & Asia, and the British Isles), as well as including things like famine warning sites, hurricane alerts, emergency airlifts, etc. There are links to all sorts of projects helping children in over 200 countries worldwide, from landmine clearance to providing hot lunches in schools, as well as new inclusions like the Bethany home for destitute children in Tamilnadu, India.

The Project HappyChild DIRECTORY: [completed!] We're delighted to say the fully-redesigned version of the Directory is now on line - our thanks to the many Charities who have provided information and borne with us during the lengthy updating process. Our thanks to all of you who support their work with your donations and fundraising! Publicising the valuable work they do is a significant part of our reason for being here. We'd like to extend a welcome to the latest addition to the Directory - SOS Children's Villages, who provide family-style care for orphaned and abandoned children in over 130 countries worldwide.

... the longest journey starts with a single step ...

CHRISTMAS CAROLS: [completed!] After endless requests for free-to-print song sheets for Xmas, we've finally created a new area for "Christmas Carols and Songs". Not advertised on the site as such! but judging by the visit levels, already discovered by huge numbers of visitors :) You'll find the pages here along with links to the Christmas Story in the Illuminated Bible, another background project here which went on line just after the 1st December Newsletter last year.

FRENCH WORKSHEETS: Massive progress here as well, with about 80% of the vocabulary worksheets now in place, as well as about 25% of the simplified French grammar. We've taken a slightly unusual approach with the vocabulary - lots of French textbooks seem to give students the "bare bones" of French, just-enough-to-pass-the-exam. With the result that French lessons can be relatively boring :) because most 11-16-year-olds are extremely fluent in their own language and find they can't express themselves similarly with five-year-old-level vocabulary. Our French vocabulary worksheets are *different*! with a wide range of words logically ordered in categories so students can find and absorb them more easily. All worksheets are "self-testing" (English-French, French-English) and constructed in such a way that they can be used on screen or printed out, and learned either orally or by written completion.

Sol's guide to HARRY POTTER: We've done a surprising amount of work on this area behind the scenes, standardising the formats to allow everything to be integrated across the board. The hardest "factor" of this area has been fathoming out how to *structure* it, so that we could actually enable people to "find" things, or track themes running through the books, without disclosing the plot lines. Let alone keeping references to the seven projected books in the series, largely *separate* on the site pages! To a large degree we've achieved this, now: take a look at any of the character pages (and their onward links), to get some idea of how everything will link together. All the characters so far, locations, spells, creatures etc. have all now been mapped out in this way (and cross-linked as appropriate) so that we can in due course input the bulk of the relevant details and link everything together.

Andy's guide to POKÉMON: [completed!] We're delighted to say that all the huge mass of Gold & Silver info has now gone on line, along with the new Elements area for red, blue, yellow, gold and silver Pokémon. The Cheats, Tips and Shortcuts area is also now up to date! though obviously we'll be putting up new items sent in by visitors, on an ongoing basis, and a few items remain to be added that have been sent in by visitors since this Newsletter was first drafted. Our thanks to all the people who sent in their own drawings for the Gold & Silver Pokédex.

Spellings, Sounds and Meanings: To say this one was a daunting challenge would be an understatement! But we *have*, finally, restructured this area so it's easier to *find* things. Remember all those endless lines of blue boxes without any immediate indication of what was behind them? We've designed a whole new indexing system - which you can access from the main page here. This whole area is surprisingly near completion! but co-ordinating everything has been *massively* complicated :) The "index pages" for all the sound sub-groups are all in place now, and we'll gradually be adding the word groups and related worksheet pages as we correlate all the information together. All the words for the EH and IH sound groups have recently gone on line, and we're just waiting for the associated 3840 worksheets to be generated, hopefully within the next week or two.

Keywords for Learning: There's been some restructuring in this area as well, to streamline the work of adding all the new wordsearches. Lists sent in by visitors have been added to the database [associated wordsearch pages due to be generated shortly] and we've created new "index pages" (eg see the index page for books on line) to allow us to interlink themes across the site, and create external links, separately from the wordsearch pages themselves, as well as allowing visitors to identify the content they're looking for (eg see the index page for the human body). We've made a start on linking relevant wordsearches from the Sounds Database - along with various other items like links to composer sites, Infinite Facts Series pages (eg the Periodic Table) and others. We still have a lot of work to do on this area! but we're going to take this at a more leisurely pace, along with filling in the Harry Potter area, once the Sounds Database and French vocab worksheets and grammar have finally been completed. Our thanks to visitors who have been sending in wordsearches for us to expand the range of those currently available.

Maths Worksheets: FRACTIONS: [completed!] The third "Bart and Miss Walker" story, "Fractions and Percentages" (and related worksheets), completes the 4000+ pages of free Maths worksheets on line at the site here. We get lots of requests for more stories! but realistically time is at such a premium these days, that it's just not viable to include more. Good to know that they're appreciated, though :)

... the longest journey starts with a single step ...

OVERVIEW: So ..... one year on ..... we've come a long way. Not as far as we might have liked! but realistically we hadn't catered for "the unforeseen" - like the computer crash of March 2004, and the loss of six *years*' worth of e-mail records, including a lot of content sent in by visitors, which presented us with real problems in trying to get in touch with previous contributors. With this also came a particular sense of "loss" for we hadn't yet printed out all the e-mails people had sent in, saying what they liked about the site (yes we really do appreciate those!). Seemingly we should put together a scrapbook from here-on-in .... we had one recently, from Rick, saying simply: "Love happychild. What a wonderful thing. For adults, too. Thank you."  Thank you, Rick :) And to all of you who've written similarly over the years.

We appreciate you all bearing with us during our "year out". You can see we still have a lot left in hand! but things will be easier during 2005, if only because we only have *four* areas left to complete (as against eight overall, this time last year [discounting "Carols" and "Fractions & Percentages", which weren't technically included in the schedule] ). French vocabulary and grammar, along with Spellings, Sounds and Meanings, will be "first", and Keywords for Learning and Sol's guide to Harry Potter, side by side after that. And one more clearly-needed but not-yet-possible area along the way, somewhere. Ongoing updates for everywhere else, including Pokémon, poems, jokes and the new Aesop's Fables area, will take place "as and when". At the beginning of 2005 we need to update the Events Calendar ..... but that's the only definite landmark.

So when will it all be "done"? We really can't answer that! We'd like to say "before the end of 2005" - but who knows? We certainly can't continue to work at the unremitting pace of pagebuilding during 2004! but it's been a valuable year and a huge amount got done. We'll just do "what we can, when we can" and trust to getting there eventually :) In the meantime we'll aim to keep you up to date with pagebuilding progress as and when it happens.

... AND ONE MORE ITEM .... We'd like to leave you with just one more thing to think about - "children's medical expenses". In the nearly-seven-years that this website has been on line, it's the most frequent reason for help being requested ..... and the one area we don't know anyone to help with. Think back to Charlie Yellow, whose life was amazingly transformed during his operation in America last year (see www.charlieyellow.plus.com). Visitors to Charlie's site (and others) were kind enough to donate over £5,000 - but with a total bill of around £100,000, presumably his parents still have a *huge* debt to pay off.

Many of you will recall Polly, in Russia, whose mother's Guestbook appeal here, in July 2000, for hearing aids, was kindly met by a lady in America .... but Polly now needs a cochlear implant - yes, it may be available at the Children's Hospital in Seattle, but how does Polly get there, or have the operation paid for? See the Guestbook for Polly's Mum's letter in May 2004 - and for the impassioned plea for help just received from Muhammad Ihsan Ul Haq in Pakistan, hoping to find some way of funding his son Waleed's lifesaving operation, also now on line in the Guestbook.

Obviously, if anyone can now help Polly or Waleed, this would be much appreciated :) But more than this, *someone* needs to think about setting up a huge "medical expenses" fund for children worldwide. Do we have any multi-millionaires reading this page? I wonder! But failing that, a consortium of doctors-giving-their-services-free, helpful hospitals and airlines-offering-free-flights could achieve much the same result.

We can't co-ordinate this from here! But it's a *real* need and there must be *some* way of meeting it. There are "partial solutions" (like DOCS - see their guestbook entry), but even they are short of funding; there's the wonderful St. Jude Children's Research Hospital (see Danny's promise) which treats children from many countries free, within medical areas currently being researched by the hospital, and there is the occasional millionaire who might fund the occasional operation.

More than this is needed! Some sort of worldwide set-up where much-needed operations (of any kind) can be provided free for children as required. If anyone has any bright ideas, let us know! Without a multi-millionaire, it's going to need the co-operation of a *lot* of people ....

Wishing you all a happy Christmas and a wonderful 2005,

Archive of 2003/2004 Newsletters at Project HappyChildBest regards,


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