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Stories: Children, Communities, Futures

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This Christmas, grandmother-of-seven, Christine Johnson, will be giving gifts that bring joy to people beyond the loved ones receiving them.

Instead of ordinary presents, Christine’s grandchildren, 12-year-old Michaela and 11-year-old Lachlan (pictured above), have asked Christine to donate Gifts for Good, to help children and their families in disadvantaged communities overseas.

Michaela and Lachlan chose two items each from this year’s ChildFund Gifts for Good catalogue, including mosquito nets to prevent children from contracting diseases such as malaria, and school supplies to help ensure vulnerable children could continue their education.

Lachlan also chose a dozen chickens, and Michaela a warm blanket and pillow.

Christine, a long-time ChildFund supporter, says Michaela and Lachlan have a strong social conscience and were enthusiastic about the idea of giving Gifts for Good this festive season.

“I’m so proud of them,” Christine says. “They really love doing things like that. They’re beautiful children and they’re very conscious of the environment and of others; they’re very empathetic with a lot of things going on in the world.

“They’re very aware about ways they can improve things in the world, so when I showed them the Gifts for Good catalogue they jumped at the idea.

“They were pleased about doing it.”

Pregnant women carry bottles of water to their nearest health clinic to give birth because of a lack of clean water facilities. It is a heartbreaking story that inspired ChildFund supporter Maureen and her family to build wells in some of Cambodia’s most remote communities.

“It really took hold of me,” Maureen says. “I was thinking, how on earth can women give birth safely and then look after their children if there’s not even any running water in the health clinic? That really sparked my interest in getting clean water into those communities.

“Access to clean water can improve maternal mortality rates. It has a huge impact; children could be left motherless.”

Maternal and child health has always been a topic close to Maureen’s heart. As the oldest of nine children Maureen saw first-hand the challenges her own mother experienced.

“Every time my mother was pregnant and gave birth, she had to look after her growing family,” Maureen says. “There was always an issue for her around having enough resources to do that.

“But there are women in some countries that don’t even have access to enough clean water.”

A cause worth supporting well

In late 2017, Maureen and her cousin Cathy donated a motorcycle to ChildFund to help deliver essential items to remote communities in Cambodia. Cathy and Maureen’s sister-in-law Melinda travelled to the country to see ChildFund’s work in action, returning home with stories about the dire challenges that mothers and children face in accessing basic healthcare.