What are you giving your sister in the Philippines this Christmas?

And in our world of plenty we can spread a smile of joy
Throw your arms around the world at Christmastime
But say a prayer, pray for the other ones
At Christmastime it’s hard, but when you’re having fun
There’s a world outside your window
And it’s a world of dread and fear
Where the only water flowing 
Is the bitter sting of tears
And the Christmas bells that ring there are the clanging chimes of doom
Well tonight thank God it’s them instead of you.
Feed the World

As I was driving my daughter to pre-school this morning through our beautiful local area in our new car, wrapped up warm, this song came on the radio, and I burst into tears.

Only the day before Mr DA and I had been talking of the future, our future, our kids’ future and what this world might look like in twenty years time.
We are not filled with hope for the big picture. But we are resourceful.
And we know that we live in one of the safest and most fertile countries in the world. With lots of space and natural resources. 
And as I read the paper that evening there were stories… stories of hunger, of women being raped just for being women, of rising levels of homelessness, of whole populations displaced by war, of political work camps in North Korea holding 200,000 in conditions which make the Nazis not look too bad.

Now. Right now. All over the world. Not stories at all but realities.

You know this. Of course you do. It’s why you avoid the papers and the news. Because it’s hard to function on a diet of despair.

And in terms of keeping a positive mental headspace avoiding the news is a Good Thing.

But that doesn’t stop all this stuff actually happening.

And so as I sit here giving thanks for a year of dreams come true, a year of comfort and ease, warmth and too much food, happy family life and safety I don’t even have to think about.
I think what if…
What if by accident of birth I was born in one of many other countries… what if….

What if one day in the future this will be us…

These are my brothers and sisters from other mothers. My children in other lives. My parents. My self.
And so I have given three Christmas gifts.

Not little 20-cents-in-a-collection box-to-let-myself-off-the-guilt-hook-gifts. Proper gifts from our family to other families around the world, that will make a substantial difference to other’s lives.

One to feed a family for a month, who are suffering homelessness because of a hurricane. One to a political prisoner who could be, would be, me, who dared to question corrupt authority, and now pays for it with their own blood and confinement every day. And one to my children in another land – children for whom books and light and clean water, such basic essentials to us here, are luxuries out of their reach.

It would be easy enough to say we’re hardly rolling in it ourselves. Or that charity giving isn’t the best way to do it.

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. This, as you know is my motto.

The more we give the richer we realise we are.

And so at this time of giving, please, please, however broke you feel, however busy you are, give a gift, to the value of what you would give your mother or sister, or neighbour, to your relations elsewhere whom you have never met, who need a Christmas present as a matter of life or death. 
We all know many charities and many ways of giving. Don’t let not being able to choose stop you for a moment. Think of a son, a mother, a woman, a man that could be you in another lifetime, or another year. And give something right now to share the light and love and abundance that you enjoy as standard.
These are a few of my favourite charities (and obviously, it goes without saying, I benefit in no way from recommending them.)
International Red Cross – to support their work in the Philippines relief effort and in war torn countries around the world.

The Guardian Christmas Appeal this year is going to Africa to support books, water aid, renewable power and sustainable farming practices.

Amnesty International who support human rights around the world, acting as advocate for political prisoners. And whilst there you can sign a petition or two.

Goal – an Irish charity who we supported for our wedding, who work with the poorest of the poor around the world.

You can use your social media accounts to automatically support Irish charities by joining the 12 Days of Christmas appeal  which posts an appeal message on either Facebook or Twitter once a day until Christmas.

Thank you…  in the words of Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie and everyone who needs us… We are the World.

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