I’ve been visiting family in Malaysia over the past week. We were out driving in the rural areas, where there is a lot of poverty. I’ve visited this country so many times and never really thought about the situation of the people who live in the ramshackle houses by the side of the roads. I asked my dad what sort of welfare there is in the country and he said not much, most of the work is done by charities and churches when it comes to looking after the poor, the orphaned and the elderly.
I was also talking to my family’s ‘domestic helper’, a young 24 year old woman who lives in the family home and helps with the cleaning and care of the three little children (it is normal for middle class families in South East Asia to have domestic helpers). She herself has a three year old son who lives with her parents back in the Philippines, but has come to Malaysia to work as she is able to earn much more here than she would at home to send back to her family. Imagine being in the situation where you would have to leave your child to go and look after other peoples’ children…and yet this is quite common in this region.
All this has made me think about the charities and groups who work with children living in poverty around the world. It makes me appreciate anew just how much I have, especially as we head into the Christmas period when we are all bombarded with messages about buying lavish gifts for people (and yes, I know I’m guilty of bombarding you as much as anyone!). Isn’t it a wonderful thing to give and receive gifts, no matter who you are? It’s so great to receive thoughtful gifts too, when you know someone has put time and effort into thinking about what would delight you. How about bringing that joy to a disadvantaged child as well as the people you usually buy presents for this Christmas?
My church participates in Operation Christmas Child each year. You pack a shoebox full of presents and make a donation to cover postage. Your shoebox is then delivered to a child somewhere in South East Asia or the Pacific, to show them that someone cares about them and wanted to delight them too. It doesn’t cost very much, but has such a deep and beautiful impact on a young life.
If you’re in NSW it’s not too late to pack your own shoebox and drop off at one of the collection points – but you need to be quick. Or if you’ve missed the cut off, maybe you could make a donation to Samaritan’s Purse to help them cover the project costs.
It doesn’t take much effort to bring so much joy!