Stories: Children, Communities, Futures

With Christmas around the corner, we’re interviewing ChildFund supporters to find out what the festive season means to them and what motivates them to buy Gifts for Good.

For Carol Vleeskens the perfect Christmas gift is one that’s meaningful for both the donor and the recipient, and benefits the wider community.

Every year for the past nine years, the New South Wales resident has bought her Christmas presents from ChildFund’s Gifts for Good catalogue, which supports disadvantaged children and families around the world.

Among the gifts she’s purchased are solar lamps for children living in homes without electricity, ducks for families, and study sets and sports equipment for children. Below, we share what she had to say about how she chooses which charity gift to give for Christmas.

 

What Does It Mean To Buy Gifts For Good?

Giving Gifts for Good is about sharing a part of herself with her loved ones, says Carol. Social justice is an area close to her heart and she has had a long history working with NGOs in the areas of social welfare and child protection.

“When I first started buying Gifts for Good I was looking for opportunities to support charities in a way that I felt like I could share with people around me that I was passionate about a particular cause,” she says.

It’s about “stirring the social justice gene”, says Carol, and she hopes the Gifts for Good her friends and family receive inspire them to help disadvantaged communities.

“It’s about getting people to recognise that ‘things’ aren’t important as we live in an amazingly privileged country and time, and there are many people who don’t have the same opportunities,” she says.

 

How Carol Chooses Gifts For Good

Each Gift for Good she buys has been carefully considered. Carol makes sure the gifts align with the recipients’ personalities or interests.

“I will try and match the gift to the person,” Carol says. “For example, I have a friend who works in public health so I gave her the gift that provides children with mosquito nets.”

“If I know someone who is a really good leader in their community, I’ll give them a gift that’s about empowering children and youth to become leaders in their community.

“If I know someone who is passionate about gardening I might give them one about seeds or trees.”

 

An Easy Way To Give Christmas Gifts

In addition to being an expression of her values and having meaning for her friends and family, buying Gifts for Good is easy.

“Gifts for good is fantastic because I don’t have to think!” Carol says. “I don’t have to go to the shops and spend time thinking about what someone has or doesn’t have, or if something is in their colour scheme. I don’t have to don’t do any of that.”

Carol buys Gifts for Good a couple of times a year and gives them as Christmas and birthday presents.

“I buy a whole heap and keep the Gifts for Good cards in my cupboards because they don’t go off and get eaten like my chocolates!”

 

Buy Gifts For Good This Christmas

If you’re stuck with the Christmas shopping or need a quick and easy way to buy your gift, our Gifts For Good range has you covered.

Be like Carol and browse our catalogue online. Choose a charity gift that suits the interests of your friend or family member, and we’ll send you a joyous Christmas Card for them to open on Christmas Day.

Get into the Christmas spirit and give gifts that give back now.

* Warning this story contains distressing content. The names of the people involved have been changed to protect their identities.

Regina was 14 years old when she was sexually abused by a man in his 50s. He lured her with an equivalent of $215 to a hotel room in Port Moresby.

She left the room, distraught and alone, and feeling helpless. She needed the money to make ends meet and desperately wanted to finish school. When both her parents passed away, her older sister had neglected her.

The abuse continued on the weekends for three years. Each time, Regina was given money and made to promise she would not tell anyone.

Her school grades dropped, and she lost her appetite and her confidence. Eventually, she lost hope.

When Regina has flashbacks, she thinks of taking her own life. She had felt like there was no reason for living anymore.

It was only when staff from ChildFund’s 1-Tok Kaunselin Helpim Lain and Rights Respect and Resilience project visited her school that things changed.

The staff encouraged students to call the helpline if they encountered any violence, negligence or any form of abuse in their life.

For the first time in a long time, Regina felt a glimmer of hope. After the visit she called the hotline.

A counsellor named Joe answered, and Regina found herself in tears. It had been three years and it was only now that she finally felt safe to tell someone about all the pain she was carrying.

Joe affirmed her confidentiality and provided crisis counselling.

“I realised I had to help Regina externalise the problem and value her life and education,” Joe said.

“We discussed the importance of her health and I told her about her legal rights and provided information on referral pathways that were available to her.”

Counsellors at ChildFund’s 1-Tok Kaunselin Helpim Lain have been helping thousands of survivors of abuse, violence and neglect, like Regina, for three years. The 1-Tok Kaunselin Helpim Lain is Papua New Guinea’s first free national counselling helpline.

After Regina’s initial call, Joe checked on Regina every week and provided more counselling. He encouraged her to report the matter to police and to change her sim card so the perpetrator could no longer reach her.

Today, Regina is focused on finishing her studies and hopeful about her future.

The counselling helped her escape the abuse and recover emotionally, and is grateful for the hotline’s service and Joe’s commitment to helping turn her life around.

If you are in Papua New Guinea and need to talk to someone, call:

  • 1-Tok Kaunselin Helpim Lain (toll-free) 7150 8000

If you are in Australia: