I can't believe Christmas is only 10 days away! My tree is up (finally) and all the presents are wrapped underneath it. Last night my friends and I had our annual tradition- a "party" with food, movies, and an ornament exchange. This year, since I learned how to crochet, I decided to make party favors for my friends- I made them each a scarf in their favorite colors! Crocheting gives me another way to do something I love- giving people presents. Giving is definitely my favorite part of the holiday season. I really try to find gifts for family and friends that they will love, because I love making people happy in that way!
I think most sponsors would agree that we would love to be able to give gifts to our sponsor kid- not just for Christmas, but all throughout the year. Compassion gives us the opportunity to send a financial gift for birthdays and other occasions, and staff members at the projects will help the kids get what they want and need. But it's also so much fun to pick out my own tangible gifts for my kids on those occasions that I am able to send some- like when I traveled to Tanzania and took backpacks full of stuff to the boys, or when other sponsors have offered to bring baggies of presents when visiting Compassion countries, or when I was able to mail a doll and a Bible to my friend who was doing language immersion in Mexico, so she could mail them to the Compassion office in-country! Picking out gifts for my kids is such a special occasion, and it is lots of fun. Sometimes an idea for a gift will pop into my head even when I'm not planning on sending anything to a child any time soon, and I like to daydream about what I would send if I had the opportunity! Here are some examples:
Sandier would get an orange plush cat, because in his last letter he told me his cat Picho was black, but he'd like it better if he was orange!
Mary would get a CD player with lots of worship CDs, because she likes to sing!
Mishel would get lots of hairstyling supplies and accessories, because she wants to be a stylist when she grows up, and she likes to practice hairstyles with her cousins.
Kevenel would get a pile of books to share with his library- most of my kids don't have a library anywhere near them, and have never seen one. I was so happy to read that Kevenel has a library nearby!
Amisha would get a pretty, dark-haired doll, because I think she looks like a doll herself, and from her letters, I think that she might need a little more fun and childhood in her life.
Kajal would get a princess crown and dress, because in all my letters I always call her Princess Kajal!
I may not be able to send gifts directly to my sponsor kids this year, but I can send gifts to kids and families in Compassion's program! Compassion has a really amazing gift catalog- you "shop" for things that benefit Compassion families or the child development centers. Making a purchase from the gift catalog is a great way to shop for Christmas gifts. You don't have to deal with crowds and lines at the stores. You don't have to bother with gift wrap. You can always find something for that person in your life who's impossible to shop for (we all have at least one.) There are also great choices for teachers and coworkers- those you may feel obligated to give to, but have no idea what to get! And there are gifts for all budgets, too! Below are some of my favorite choices.
Parasite protection. Bugs are gross to think about, but parasites are a real threat for many children around the world. Unsafe drinking water in particular can pose a great risk to the health of kids in countries where Compassion works. The embarrassing thing is that this common health problem is pretty much preventable- and very inexpensive. For just $4, you can provide medication to protect one child from these invisible creepy crawlers.
Mosquito nets. In Tanzania, we were fortunate to sleep under mosquito nets every single night. Even with the nets, we still got bitten sometimes- but not nearly as much as we would have without them. We were all also on antimalarial medication. Those pills are a luxury not available to many families with kids in Compassion's program. A gift of $18 provides a family with a mosquito net (they're really, really big) treated with insecticide.
Bathrooms. Indoor plumbing is a luxury we definitely take for granted. While our hotels in Tanzania had "sit down" toilets, none of the child development centers did. All but one of the centers told us they had grant applications outstanding for improved bathroom facilities. The two bathrooms I actually went in were outdoor stalls with wooden doors, cement floors and ceramic-coated holes in the ground. One had toilet paper. Good bathrooms are essential for good hygiene, and good hygiene means fewer health problems. A $25 gift to Compassion's "toilet fund" (my name, not theirs) can help these centers achieve their goals!
Medical care. When my Said broke his leg falling off a bus last year, he had to go to the hospital. Then he had to have surgery, placing pins and metal plates in his leg to help it heal properly. This year, he had surgery to take the pins out again. Said's momma could not afford this medical care on her own. I don't even know that they would have had access to a hospital. Said would have been in pain, and he probably would have ended up disabled because of the severe break- and then he couldn't work to take care of his mom or sister, and he wouldn't have been able to grow up healthy and strong to take care of his own family someday. Said got the care he needed because of Compassion. They made sure he saw the right doctors, got the right treatment, paid for his surgery, and helped him get better. He showed me the scar and said to me, "because of you, I was able to be healed." A gift of $40 to Compassion's medical fund can help all the future Saids see doctors and get the medicine and surgeries that they need to thrive.
Baby care. I don't know why people make a big deal about the cost of adoption ("how much did she cost?") No matter how a child comes into your family, they're expensive. From sonograms, bloodwork, ultrasounds and birthing classes to all the checkups and vaccinations babies need, from the start, having a kid costs money. This probably contributes to the fact that in developing nations, some children have a 1 in 5 chance of making it to age 5. With Compassion's help, families involved in the child survival program can get assistance with the medical care that little babies need. A gift of $55 provides medical care for one child for an entire year.
Safe Water. I can't even begin to describe to you how important this is. When I was in Tanzania, we spent our last day visiting the field office in Arusha. Staff members gave presentations on the various aspects of their jobs, and what they were doing in the country. My friend Pando is a researcher for Compassion, and he told us about a study he was working on regarding Compassion's clean water systems. They studied about a thousand families throughout the country who received water filtration systems through the program, and tracked them for a year. Water borne illnesses in adults dropped to less than 5%. Families' overall health improved dramatically in that time. The kids were healthier, too, but they still got sick sometimes because they still had to go to school, where there may not have been a water filtration system. And the great thing about these filters is they last a long time. We were told they produce over a million gallons of clean water- more than the families who received them can use. So they share water with their neighbors and extended family. And more people learn about where the water filter came from. More people have the opportunity to learn about Compassion and their church partners. More people can learn about Jesus. And they can stay healthy and live longer to tell everyone else about the clean water, and where it came from. There's a reason Compassion calls this program Water of Life!
If you'd like to take a look at Compassion's gift catalog for yourself, click here. There are many, many opportunities for giving in there! And you can give throughout the year! If you'd rather take a look at a printed catalog, something you can hold in your hands and share with friends and family, let me know- I have several copies to share!