As a child, Lisa Kane was enthralled by stories of pirates, whaling boats and the South China Seas. Grown up, when she and husband Peter got the chance to live life in the real Shanghai, they set off to embrace a very different culture and lifestyle.
Five years on, Lisa has found a way to tell a story that had been hatching in her head for years - and a way to help a cause that is close to her heart.
She has written, illustrated and published a children’s book, ‘A Whole New World of Colour’ and all of the profits will help buy hearing aids for underprivileged deaf children in China.
As an early years officer, Lisa quickly found a job in an international school. It has around 150 early-years children, aged three to six, from all corners of the world. A winter performance is a highlight of the year.
Lisa said: “It has to be representative of all cultures and beliefs, so the traditional Nativity is not an option. Every year it takes a little creativity to showcase something a little bit different from before. Our resident music teacher asked if I knew any children’s stories that explored the concept of bringing light and colour into a world of darkness; symbols that transcend all cultures and belief systems.
“She also thought she would like the main characters to be three little blackbirds.
As a mother of three children – now aged aged 24, 22 and 10 – Lisa was used to telling stories.
She said: “When my children were younger my philosophy was ‘a story a night’. By the time we got to the third child I would alternate between tales of my own making as well as well-known children’s books. And the music teacher’s request reminded her of one of those stories.
She said: “It was about three faeries - my daughter’s friends at the time - who brought light and colour into a world of darkness. The faeries became blackbirds and the story was nudged back to life: ‘A Whole New World of Colour’ was reborn.
There was a readymade market in the form of the school families, so it made sense to tie a book in with the school performance. After a chat with the principal, I established contact with a printer who was happy to print samples of the book, then a ‘small’ print run.
Then two very important links between Lisa’s old life in Falkirk and her new life in Shanghai came to the fore. A community choir, made up of students, staff and parents, sings at school and wider community events.
Said Lisa “We recently sang at a fundraising gala dinner that a community charity Hands On Shanghai, organised. This year, it aims to raise money to buy and fit Hearing Aids for 100 underprivileged children in Shanghai.
“While living in Falkirk, I worked for eight years in Windsor Park School for the Deaf. I quickly learned sign language and gained immense skills working there. In my third year, my youngest daughter was born and, at the age of four, diagnosed with a severe hearing loss.
“Even before her diagnosis, I’d taught her baby sign and sign language is something we kept up, it’s a skill that has helped us communicate in a variety of mime, gesture and sign in our current home!
“When I heard of the Hands On Shanghai project, I wanted to do something to contribute. The plan fell into place. Our aim is to sell 200 books and donate 10,000rmb (£1000) to charity. We are now well on target and every day the orders trickle in.”
She went on: “I will always be grateful for the exemplary audiological and teacher-of-the-deaf services we have in Falkirk. The education, awareness and support families of deaf children and the children themselves receive is outstanding. In China, however, disability of any kind is still very much hidden and there is a lack of education and awareness about any additional needs. People are curious when they see my daughter’s hearing aids and will ask about them and offer advice – most of the suggested remedies involve eating fruit and drinking hot water. But one day, visiting the doctor when my daughter had a fever, the nurse who admitted us asked if her hearing aids were to help keep fever down!
You can find A Whole New World of Colour on Facebook. Books cost £10.