The festive season is a time when we come together to celebrate with our loved ones.
But while we are counting our blessings, there will be children who are suffering, their lives torn apart by emergencies such as the Rohingya refugee crisis in Myanmar or the recent earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia.
After the immediate emergency response, the crisis doesn’t end for children. Often, they find themselves in desperate circumstances, cold and at risk of hunger, disease and violence.
When disasters strike, families and communities can lose everything, leaving children vulnerable and struggling to survive.
These children have already lost so much, they shouldn’t have to lose their childhood too.
On 28 September 2018, an earthquake measuring 7.4 on the Richter scale struck central Sulawesi in Indonesia. This was followed by a tsunami that devastated the west coast.
The natural disasters have reportedly killed 2,088 people and displaced 78,994 others, who are spread over 110 different evacuation centres. Access to basic services and necessities is a challenge, and children and their families have limited access to electricity, water and sanitation services.
ChildFund is assisting the emergency response to make sure children have enough clean water, food, blankets, and tents. Our other primary concerns are making sure they are able to resume their schooling and access psychosocial support as soon as possible.
Cambodia, Laos and India
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.
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.
Each Gift for Good she buys has been carefully considered. She 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.”
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 don’t go off and get eaten like my chocolates!”