Starting up my car on the way to a school assembly about Advent and Christmas the radio was playing that familiar sentimental Christmas pop-song made famous by Band Aid in the 80s. But this was the newest version concentrating its focus on the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. Carefully rewritten lyrics tunefully sung out by the musically famous of our times. I heard the familiar line “There’s a world outside your window and it’s a world of dread and fear”, well maybe not quite outside my window on this wet English day I thought, then the line that followed shocked me, and has stayed in my minds’ eye ever since. “Where a kiss of love can kill you and there’s death in every tear”!
The songwriter has grasped something of the horror and isolation of people living with plague in Africa with this line, but it struck me that they have also sung out the topsy turvey world of the most desperate children on the planet! People living in communities of poverty, destitution, deprivation and need. Environments that challenge their right to meaningful humanity. The children whose mothers give birth to them already carrying the HIV virus, the babies who cannot cry tears through dehydration and malnutrition, tiny new babies found in deep latrines and small children cast out of comforting arms into streets and wastelands, some even eaten by wild animals, because of cultural superstitions and primitive tribal fears. The children who are married too early, giving birth in unbelievable trauma that tears their little bodies apart and forces them to live their whole lives without a single person in the world to love, care for or touch them. Those who pray for death to come quickly but spend day after day as prisoners to the cruel and abusive world of sex trafficking and cruelty they have been enslaved to. This Christmas, in Africa.
While across the rest of the world. In the UK children go hungry, unprotected, without hope. Foodbanks struggle to keep up with the demand of feeding the neediest children amongst us. In Romania, Albania and countries of Eastern Europe those most in need, the Roma gypsy people, the poor and the needy, are held captive to soaring costs and unemployment. Disease and sickness become deadly enemies as expensive medical costs, malnutrition and poor sanitation stalk the lives of increasingly vulnerable people. Often we would consider their homes unfit for animals to live in with large families sharing the cramped inhuman conditions. In Central and South Asia too poverty and need stalks the elderly and sick, the dispossessed and the isolated. If in West Africa a kiss of love can kill through disease, in other lands where there is no love at all there is greatest need, dreadful isolation, total abandonment and hopelessness.
PovertySwap has this year been able to pass your donations to people who were victims of all of these circumstances. Without hope and without love in the world. Our co-workers in Ethiopia, Nepal, Romania and now Central Asia have been given 100% of your donations so that they can effectively work together with the poorest communities and neediest people within their communities.
TOUCHES OF LOVE: SWAPPING POVERTY FOR LIFE OPPORTUNITY
Love Never Fails: In Romania our family worker continually and selflessly brings hope, love, education and practical help to Roma children week after week, in the cold shadow of the icy winter mountains. During holiday periods and some weekends the Christian camp, filled with fresh air, tasty nourishing food, fun, games and gospel messages is a magnet for the Roma children both summer and winter. Love is the attraction.
Coming home for Christmas! PovertySwap friends have helped make The Long Walk Home in Nepal possible and children will be reunited with family villages this winter. It is many years since some children at the children's home in Kathmandu saw their family, friends and villages. This Christmas, due to your excellent fundraising efforts and personal donations they will be making the long trek home.
In Albania: Life is tough in Albania for some of Europe's most desperate people. Our co-workers make sure there is love, hope, friendship, food and gifts in homes and for the homeless people at Christmas and around the year.
In Ethiopia: In 4 years we have seen the misery of Ethiopian women plagued by HIV/Aids turn to humble thanksgiving and wide smiles as many have seen their children thrive, started businesses, been trained with employability skills and been restored in confidence and self-esteem. Thanks be to God and the PovertySwap friends.
In the PovertySwap economony it is never more clear to us than when looking into the face of a small child poverty and the associated lack of opportunity bites into the smallest most vulnerable lives hardest. Therefore, opening The Deborah Kindergarten in rural Ethiopia has been a highlight of the PovertySwap year. These opening day smiles from the first intake of children, who previously had no possible access to education confirm what we all agree....povertyswapping is a lot of fun. The future is brighter now for 45 families in this harsh mountain location. Small steps that are the start of a great journey.
Taking the despised and rejected into a home of love and opportunity our co-workers at Ebenezer Grace children’s home are investing all that they have into small vulnerable lives, that somehow life for them will be something of great wonder.
South Africa is awaiting the arrival of our special Life-Skills worker from Edinburgh to work with the Zesize Educational Trust amongst those most at risk of violence, child marriage, HIV/Aids infection. Important workshops and events are planned for the 3 month voluntary opportunity and at PovertySwap we believe this is a unique and timely opportunity to invest transforming educational thinking into those most at risk.
PovertySwapping is transforming communities with love. Thank you to all who make it possible to shed this love all over the world in need.
Remember our children this Christmas with your thoughts, prayers and donations. God Bless you.