Stories: Children, Communities, Futures

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The festive season is almost here. Trees are going up, carols are playing in shops, and we’re counting down the days until we can see our loved ones and shower them with presents. 

Finding the perfect items can be tricky, so we’ve put together a handy guide with plenty of ethical Christmas gift ideas to ensure you have no trouble filling your baskets or Santa stockings while giving back.

1. Donate Gifts for Good

You can support ChildFund’s efforts around the globe by donating life-changing gifts from their Gifts for Good range. Each donation is accompanied by a Christmas card, emailed directly to a nominated address. Alternatively, you can print out a card at home and include it in your gift basket. 

We offer a range of gifts, but we recommend choosing something that your special someone genuinely cares about. Our range for 2020 includes old favourites like a dozen chickens and school supplies, but also gifts that will provide relief for communities affected by COVID-19. These include a handwashing station, COVID-19 protection kits or food packs that will feed two families for a whole month. It’s never been easier to improve the quality of life for children in need.

2. Sample locally-made produce

Regions like the Hunter Valley, Margaret River, and basically the whole of Tasmania, make wonderful produce abundant. Farmers around the country pour their hearts and souls into artisan cheeses, boutique chocolates, cured meats, nuts, and much more! Combine them and you have the best grazing platter ever made. There’s nothing better than some local camembert piping hot from the oven, topped with rosemary and local honey. The best way to collect these wonderful ingredients is with a weekend road-trip to your closest farmer’s market or farm gate.

If you’re not able to hit the road, many producers have turned to online sales to bring their products to happy bellies around the country. Simply head to websites such as Spend With Us, dedicated to supporting locally-made produce and bringing them to buyers across the country. You can also go to producers directly! Buy some extra virgin olive oil from Robinvale Estate in Victoria, Watermelon Seed Bars from Seedsations in Tasmania, Pesticide-Free Organic Tea from Collombatti Naturals in NSW, Fig Salami from Homemade By Annie in Victoria, or scores of other local businesses.

3. Buy Australian wines

As one of the best wine countries in the world, we simply love our homegrown bottles. A Semillon from the Hunter Valley, a Shiraz from the Barossa Valley, a Pinot Noir from the Yarra Valley, or Cabernet Sauvignon from Margaret River, there really is an endless amount of wines to choose from. And when you find a wine you truly love, why not opt-in on a regular basis with a subscription?  It will give you a never-ending supply of beautiful bottles of wine with a hearty side of community support.

Remember to be age appropriate! If you’re buying for a family that includes children, you should accompany your wine with sparkling grape or apple juice that the little ones can enjoy.

4. Order artisanal hampers

Don’t have time to shop for items to include in a Christmas gift basket? Artisanal hampers are a great alternative if you want to have everything ready to go and save time. They can be filled with everything from delicious local produce to homemade self-care packages. With Christmas approaching fast, most Australian companies are getting their hampers ready for shipping. Take a look at The Perfect Hamper, or consider buying a hamper from a drought or bushfire-affected business, when you’re creating your shopping list.

5. DIY Christmas gifts

DIY projects have never been more popular! Whether it is making something from scratch or upcycling something you already own, it’s a great chance to explore your creative side. Why not start with an at-home pottery kit? The original founders of this idea at Crock’d believe in the “dirty hands, clean minds” philosophy and we honestly couldn’t agree more.

6. Choose handcrafted goods

If you’re looking for items that don’t have an expiry date, why not consider some handcrafted goods and jewellery? Nothing feels quite as personal as a one-off ceramic keep cup, or customised wine glasses. This year has had its challenges, but it’s unleashed a wave of creativity, with many Australian makers creating wonderful items – ranging from kitsch to practical – to brighten up your home.

Here are some of our favourites:

  • Spend With Us: Support craftspeople affected by drought right across Australia
  • Make It Collective: Find customisable, unique, and novel pressies this Christmas
  • Country & Co.: Browse the selection of unique Australian-made jewellery and homegoods 
  • Love Australian Handmade: Feel the passion that goes into each and every product
  • Made It: Look no further for local accessories, jewellery, crafts, homewares, and more

7. Support local artists

Instagram makes it easier than ever to find and connect with talented artists in your area. We love drone photography of Australian beaches and wildlife, just like the images of Jaimen Hudson. But it’s not only photographers that are shining on Instagram. It is also the place to discover painters such as contemporary indigenous artist Lauren, who sells originals and prints under the name Freestone.

Purchase a print, photograph or drawing, and request it to be sized appropriately to fit into your Christmas gift basket. You may even include a note explaining why you chose that artwork for the recipient!

8. Choose sustainable fashion

With fast fashion known to be one of the biggest contributors to pollution worldwide, opt for ethical and sustainable fashion. Find beautiful pieces made by local designers online, like this western-style denim shirt, yellow tulips bucket hat or tie-dye kimono. If you prefer shopping with more established clothing brands and want to assess how sustainable and ethical they are, have a look at the rating system on Good On You to get a quick overview.

Keep in mind the other gifts you plan to include and the size of your basket or stocking! You want to make sure that once folded, your loved one’s garment will slip right into your Christmas gift basket.

9. Pamper a loved one

While international travel is temporarily off the table, treating your loved one to a staycation is the perfect way to show them some love while supporting your community. The Empty Esky and Holiday Here This Year campaigns are what we’re using to plan our adventure to bushfire-affected areas. The campaigns offer pre-planned itineraries and are full of inspiration to explore your own backyard!

We recommend printing the receipt and hiding it in a decoy gift. You might choose a travel book, diary, mug or something else that can conceal the receipt, while also being a thoughtful gift. Remember to get the magic moment on camera as they ruffle through their Christmas gift basket.

10. Breathe deeply with plants

Buying for a green thumb? There’s something special about gifting someone new native plants for the house or garden. Christmas only comes once a year, but seeing these plants grow and change throughout the seasons means your loved one can enjoy it for a long time to come. When purchasing plants, it’s best to ask the nursery for detailed care instructions to ensure the plant is able to survive and thrive.

Looking for a few ideas? We love the succulent Sydney based start-up Little Succers for a small and easy to care for plant. Can your loved one handle a bit more? There are plenty of mail order services, like Plants in a Box or Home of House Plants, that deliver indoor plants from all over Australia right to your doorstep! Looking for an outdoor plant? Don’t forget to buy something native to your area!

Fill your Christmas gift basket with a range of ethical treats

Now you’re all set to shop for gifts for that special someone. Be as creative as you can with the combination of items you include and don’t be afraid to spoil! It’s been a tough year for everyone, and we’re sure they’d appreciate the love.

This year the COVID-19 pandemic has thrust children around the world into uncertainty.

At ChildFund, we are also deeply concerned about the impact this pandemic will have on the children and families with whom we work; communities who are already vulnerable due to poverty.

If the issues facing children are not addressed, they could have a devastating impact on children now and in the future.

Despite this uncertainty, children around the world are optimistic about the world they are helping to shape.

On World Children’s Day, we’re sharing the views of children and young people around the world who imagine a brighter future.

Namfonh, 16, Laos

“In the future, children will dare to speak out, share their ideas, and participate in society,” Namfonh said. “They’ll be able to access quality information, and will have skills and show their capacities in their daily lives.”

Namfonh said children needed to keep pushing for change in their communities and for more opportunities to have their opinions and ideas heard.

“Experience is something we have to go after and pursue,” Namfonh said. “It isn’t just going to come to us; we have to walk towards it.”

16-year-old Namfonh from Vietiane Capital, Laos, at the 2020 Lao Child Forum supported by ChildFund.

Feb, 17, Timor-Leste

Seventeen-year-old Febis blazing a trail in her small community in Timor-Leste. She is a passionate and confident ChildFund Pass It Back coach who wants to change the future for girls and women in her country.

“In Timor-Leste, there is no gender equality,” she says. “We still use this ancient system, where opportunities are given to boys or men. There are less opportunities in terms of education and jobs for girls and women. Women have no opportunity to lead; they just know how to cook.”

But Feb is stirring the pot. As a ChildFund Pass It Back coach she is a part of a new generation of girls and young women in Timor-Leste who are learning about their rights and taking action.

“What I would like to change in Timor-Leste is this ancient system; we have to give opportunities for girls and women so they can develop themselves and they can become leaders,” Feb says.

Recently, she applied to become a member of the Youth Parliament. Her motive?

“I want to raise the issue of gender equality,” Feb says. “I want equal opportunities for girls and boys in Timor-Leste.”

ChildFund Pass It Back female coach in Timor-Leste.
ChildFund Pass It Back coach Feb, age 17, in Liquica municipality, Timor-Leste.

Jane, 22, Kenya

Where Jane lives in Kiambu County, Kenya, a rural community known for its sprawling coffee farms, it’s unusual to see a young woman entering such a traditionally male-dominated industry. In fact, youth unemployment in Kenya is high regardless of gender.

According to the country’s 2018 Basic Labour Force Report, more than 11 percent of youth aged 15-34 in the country are unemployed, putting them at risk of poverty and homelessness.

The dangers are even greater for unemployed or low-income girls in this age group, who face higher rates of teen pregnancy and gender-based violence than their peers.

But Jane has the confidence of a girl who knows she’s going places, thanks in part to ChildFund’s job training programs, which focus on the specific needs of young adults.

When you ask Jane why she decided to study electrical work, her response is simple: “Because I liked it.”

She grins. Then she adds: “I wanted to help people. And I wanted to show other girls that there is no course they can’t take.”

Jane, 22, is training to be an electrician as part of ChildFund’s Youth Vocational Skills project in Kiambu County, Kenya.
Jane, 22, is training to be an electrician as part of ChildFund’s Youth Vocational Skills project in Kiambu County, Kenya.

Phongsavanh, 15, Laos

By 2030, I want all children to have access to a quality education. I want improved maternal and child healthcare, and better nutrition for children, and I want children to be able to access appropriate platforms to learn and exchange their knowledge and their skills.

I also want communities to be well prepared for the effects of climate change. We need to promote the 3Rs (Reuse, Reduce and Recycle) in our communities so we can reduce the impact.

In addition, I want children in Laos to be able to access to digital devices and the digital world, but we also need to know how to use the internet safely.

My aspiration is to make sure all children in my country know their rights. I want to encourage them to develop their knowledge and skills as much as possible so they can have a good future.

Child delegate Phongsavanh, age 15, (right) from Laos speaks at the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in New York. ChildFund Laos supported Phongsavanh on this trip. November 20, 2019.
Child delegate Phongsavanh, age 15, (right) from Laos attends the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in New York. ChildFund Laos supported Phongsavanh on this trip. November 20, 2019.