It's a Happy New Year greeting from all our coworkers, friends, the children, families and communities we work together with across the world. Some of us work with different calendars and therefore today's date can be different across many nations and in many cultures. However each one of us fully appreciates your interest, connection and efforts on behalf of the children, families and communities we serve. Therefore, whatever the date it is a fresh new day of opportunity to make a difference for some of the world's neediest people.
Snow has fallen heavily in the Roma gypsy villages where our PovertySwap supported Family Worker offers a hand to children growing up in a rough, tough world. During the Christmas and New Year period her small courageous team were able to work with local churches and schools to bring the love and message of Christmas in caring and practical ways. Outreach is also encouraged in the local school and, as a trained social worker with teacher training and gifting she is able to minister there, creatively helping children grasp basic education like reading, writing, arithmetic as well as a well informed religious education class as currently required by the State.
Photographs of children we have known and met and who are growing into teens, young men and women now delight us as they send their greetings to us through laughing dark eyes and easy smiles. The daycamp dining room set out in Christmas splendour, winter fun in the snow and warm and welcoming tables set with food to fill hungry stomachs, all draw children for a while into a safe, loving environment, and for most it is so completely different to anything they experience elsewhere. I am always aware though that the children always look more vulnerable, less healthy and more unhappy in these winter pictures. Sickness, hunger, cold, depression, hopelessness, lack and fear are their tormentors in greater measure during these harsh months.
Together with a number of communities we are working to find a pathway for the Roma gypsy child to have an improved future in the generations to come. After-school tuition is recognised globally as an excellent way to fast-track children's learning. For the Roma gypsies of Romania we are eager to find a holistic solution that will mean the new children born to this generation of young people will be able to find better opportunities for their children to come. The efforts of our Family Worker and her team are a step in that direction and we encourage PovertySwap friends to consider what future lies in the eyes of the girl in this picture. I am sure that is not the future of her dreams.
PovertySwap is working with the local community to draw her into the potential she can only imagine. The camp days, classes and children's outreach meetings all serve to say "You Matter". Self-esteem is an amazing starting block for fulfilled potential and fullness of life, irrespective of environment sometimes. We have witnessed firsthand how a mother who is helped to have her self-esteem and confidence restored will first begin to restore the lives of her family and the community around her.
These are the small, seemingly insignificant, building blocks with which our PovertySwap co-workers work. The value of kind words, faithful visits, constancy of message and availability of warm relationship is lifeblood to the child whose world is none of those things. Absence of violence, absence of fear, absence of responsibility and a working life, even for an hour, sow gentle seeds in the heart of stone, and from tough little stones great trees have been known to grow. If you would like to help us by sharing your time, knowledge, resources or gifts, get in touch today.
News from The Deborah Kindergarten, Ethiopia
We are pressing on to encourage people to give their best efforts for the small children of Yir Gallum in the Sidamo region of Ethiopia and the wonderful stepping stone into lifelong education that is The Deborah Kindergarten. While PovertySwap friends have been able to start-fund the nursery school the project is growing fast with 45 children and 5 staff members already in place since the summer break. Local people are able to contribute some payment towards children's education but the majority within the area where the school is situated have only known generations of need and poverty.
PovertySwap has an ongoing opportunity for those who would like to provide vital pre-school preparatory education for the smallest and poorest children in this community. From just £5 per month you can get involved, contribute to this work and make a powerful impact in the lives of really vulnerable children. 100% of every donation will be sent to the project co-workers for the benfit of each child's individual need. A strong healthy child will learn well and at The Deborah KG we are concerned to have well fed stomachs, healthy bodies, active and creative minds and a programme of formal and informal education that is encouraged by "Learning Through Play".
We would be happy to hear from you if you would like to help us impact these children and the future for Ethiopia in this way.
"Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world" Nelson Mandela
Empowerment, Healing and Laughter for South Africa
Elizabeth van Zwet works dailyamongst some of Scotland's neediest children. They may be terminally ill, children with disability, in crisis or in trauma. As a creative health practitioner her work takes her amongst families suffering trauma, their educators and medical staff. Working with a skilled team she is sharing a wonderful and unique gift that is able to gently win the trust of a fragile heart in its hour of deepest need and draw out an inherent wellbeing through simple humourous fun.
Fascinatingly, laughter, full of comfort and even healing, seems to be housed deep within the soul, often sitting in darkness and fear until someone with the gift to know how to draw it out comes along. Families, medical staff, teachers and carers agree there is great value in hearing the sound of their desperate child's giggles and raucous laughter. As she goes about her day Elizabeth seems like someone in a hot thirsty land drawing a small cup of water from a deep well.
When we saw Elizabeth in action it filled our imaginations with 'what if we could package up that gift and those abilities and send it for the benefit of children in the world's toughest, most desperate places?' How would children benefit? What would be the outcome for their lives? What healing would they know that would help them along their way?
Of course there are more needy children in the world day by day but Elizabeth comes to us offering to use her knowledge, resources and skills amongst those in South Africa where she has received an invitation to spend three months mentoring young people. It will be her second trip to South Africa and she has already begun to prepare her work to share her giftings, and offer Life Skills training to local people who will be able to communicate hope and positive changes for their communities where children are at risk of violence, HIV/Aids, early marriage, early pregnancy and a never ending cycle of fear and cultural abuse.
If laughter can be drawn and stream from the heart of a child without hope of recovery on a hospital bed in Scotland, then we feel sure the impact of this co-worker upon the children and young people at the heart of these communities in South Africa is worth packaging her up and sending her there. Would you consider fundraising for our Laughter for South Africa fund? 100% of your donations will be used for transport, health care, board and necessary expenses for the trip including educational materials. We believe it is a powerful seed to create a big impact for children at risk now and for the future of their own children. Help us secure that future. You can donate here or through BTmydonate where you will find more information about Elizabeth's plan and the people who will be transformed. https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/laughterinafrica
The Long Walk Home, Nepal
Thanks to the amazing efforts of PovertySwap friends and fundraisers the children of a Kathmandhu children's home were all ready to take their arduous journey back to their home villages during the Christmas break. I am sorry to say that unusual weather conditions for the time of year, high on the Himalayas, saw worried relatives desperately sending messages to say "please don't come, it's too dangerous". And so the trip had to be postponed. It will now be October before the next holiday opportunity but the organisers feel sure all the conditions required for the trip will be favourable. Children are pictured here in their warm winter jackets, purchased by the funds raised, as they prepared for the long awaited journey. They must have been sorely disappointed but the warmth and love of their carers I am sure comforted them and they will be working at school through this year thinking about how much they will have to tell in October. We will, of course, keep you updated.