Stories

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!”

Australian rugby stars, including Charlotte Caslick and John Eales, are getting behind a major international partnership between World Rugby and ChildFund, launched in September, to change children’s lives through the transformative power of sport, as part of Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan.

World Rugby Chief Executive Officer Brett Gosper said: “We awarded the tournament to Japan because we knew that it could be a powerful game-changer for sporting and social change in Asia. As a transformational rugby for good program, ChildFund Pass It Back is the perfect embodiment of that objective and we are excited about the impact rugby can have to thousands of children within the world’s most populous and youthful continent.

“Rugby is a sport of character-building values and we have witnessed the solidarity of the rugby community in rallying behind Kamaishi and I am sure that fans purchasing tickets for Asia’s first Rugby World Cup will be generous in supporting rugby programmes that will make a real and lasting difference to thousands of disadvantaged children.”

Funds raised through the partnership will enable the award-winning[1] ChildFund Pass It Back program to be expanded in Laos, Vietnam and the Philippines, and extended to other developing countries in the region. Donated funds will also assist with emergency relief efforts in disaster-affected areas in Japan.

Over 20,000 children from disadvantaged communities across Asia will benefit.

ChildFund Alliance Chair Michael Rose said: “This is an exciting opportunity. We believe every child has the right to play, which is why ChildFund’s Pass it Back program was originally established for children in rural and remote communities of Laos and Vietnam. These are children who face significant challenges around poverty and inequality.

“Well designed sport for development programs are a proven way to achieve positive social outcomes, such as building resilience, youth leadership and gender equity. ChildFund Pass It Back helps young people to develop the skills they need to keep themselves safe in what is a rapidly changing environment, and support global efforts to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 16.2 – to end all forms of violence against children.”

The ChildFund Pass It Back program has already assisted thousands of children and youth across Asia, with its unique curriculum using tag rugby to help young people in a range of areas, including leadership, problem solving, gender equity, conflict resolution and planning for the future.

Australian rugby legend, John Eales AM, said: “I am very pleased to see that World Rugby and ChildFund are joining forces for Rugby World Cup 2019. Through this partnership, vulnerable children in Asia will get the opportunity to play rugby, and also benefit from a program which will give them important, and life-long, skills and knowledge.”

Australian Rugby Sevens player Charlotte Caslick OAM said: “I’ve just returned from Laos where I experienced firsthand the power of rugby in sharing sports, leadership and life skills with children who face challenges many of us here in Australia cannot imagine.

“It’s great to see so many girls and young women getting involved in the program, which has a strong emphasis on gender equality – over 50 per cent of all players and coaches involved in ChildFund Pass It Back are female which is amazing.”

Nigel Spence, ChildFund Australia CEO, said: “Through the partnership with World Rugby, ChildFund will reach more marginalised young people in Asia – girls, children from poor communities, young people living in rural and remote areas who have never had the opportunity to take part in organised sport before.

Raelene Castle, Rugby Australia CEO, said: “Sport has the incredible power to unite people and communities. Many of our Australian rugby players have experienced this first hand when visiting ChildFund Pass It Back training sessions in Laos and Vietnam. As we celebrate the game of rugby at the Rugby World Cup In Japan, this partnership shines an international light on the importance of children everywhere having the opportunity to play, participate in organised sport and enjoy its many life-changing benefits.”

[1] ChildFund Pass It Back won the UNICEF Safeguarding Children in Sport Award at the prestigious Beyond Sport Global Awards in 2017.