Tuesday, 27 September 2011

For the person who has everything...

It’s the end of September. This morning over Crowborough there was a light mist that carried a damp chill. When it lifted, the sky was a cool blue tinged with the soft gold of a sunshine that promised beauty but not great heat. Summer is drawing to a close.

Now come the first fleeting thoughts of Christmas. Shops are already filling shelves with Christmas goods, children start to tell us what they absolutely must have on December 25th, and we start compiling mental lists of everyone we must add to our gift list.

The trouble is, for most of us, there’ll be at least one person on that list who will cause us headaches. You know the one, the person who has everything they need and want. The aunt who hopes no-one will buy them ANOTHER ornament or box of chocolates or bottle of bath salts. The father who has drawers full of socks, ties and hand knitted jumpers. We’ll spend hours – days – trying to think of something for them, and still draw a blank. Direct questions just lead to shrugs and weary replies of, “I don’t know,” or “Don’t give me anything.”

But you want to give something. You want to show them you’ve remembered them, appreciated them, and done something to honour them.

All is not lost. World In Need’s Alternative Christmas Gift Programme allows you to buy a meaningful gift for someone you love and help people who face extreme hardships, all at the same time. Instead of spending money on something nobody wants, you can use it to make a real difference, giving in their name. The recipient receives a card of grateful thanks, your gift problems are solved, and people in some of the poorest places on earth are shown the true spirit of Christmas.

There are gifts to suit every pocket, from stocking fillers to major items, which will be available from October.

It may not be the most beautifully wrapped present you’ll give this year. But it will probably be one of the most satisfying.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Water, water everywhere...

Nor never a drop to drink!

Yesterday, eight days after he started, David Walliams completed his epic swim of the River Thames in London, and by doing so he raised over £1 million for needy children throughout the world.

Swimming 140 miles in the cold water of a tidal river would take all a man’s strength, grit and determination in itself. But Mr Walliams also had to cope with the effects of heavy pollution in that water. Within twenty four hours he was suffering from diarrhoea and vomiting, which must have made swimming interesting.

Thankfully, his own ability to fight infection was boosted by the best medical care. He had antibiotics and inoculations to help him cope. And he knew that when he reached Westminster his trial would be over, he could step on to Terra Firma and know that from then on, the water he would use to drink and bathe would be clean and purified.

Around the world, millions of children don’t have this get-out clause. Day in and day out, the water they drink, cook with and wash themselves in is dirty, polluted, filled with effluent. The stench rising from it is unbelievable, and the things it contains would make the Thames water seem like mineral water. Every time these children have contact with their only water supply, they gamble with their health, their futures and even their lives.

Water is the most precious thing on earth. Without it, no-one can survive. But dirty water is as bad as none at all. It does no-one good. And in the twenty first century, there’s no reason why anyone should have to deal with it.

Providing clean water is relatively cheap and easy, but the difference it can make to children in the developing world is priceless. Healthy children will grow strong. They are more able to learn. They grow into healthy adults who can work and benefit themselves, their families and their communities, thereby helping to cut the need for aid in future, and so benefiting us all. Clean water is vital to that development.

Let’s make sure they have it.

The photos show the water tower that supplies clean water to our school in Soy, Kenya.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Joshua Gales, 26th February 2007 – 1st August 2011.

At World In Need we invest in the future of children, working to give them the best possible start in life, that they may grow up achieving everything they are capable of achieving.

Sadly, not every child grows up, and it is with heavy hearts that we inform you of the death of one of our children in the Philippines, Joshua Gales.

The odds were stacked against Joshua from the start. He had encephalitis, asthma and myriad other ailments. In his first year of life he endured four operations, and he had low resistance to disease, which meant he frequently needed antibiotics and painkillers. He could not walk or stand unaided, and needed full time care. Yet, as his photograph shows, he was a darling little boy with a ready smile and a lot of love within him.

At four days old, Joshua’s birth family, unable to give him the help and care he required, handed him over to former pastor, Miguel Gales and his wife Merlyn. Miguel is 60 years old and his income is unsteady, but nonetheless, he and Merlyn worked hard to provide for all of Joshua’s needs.

Had they lived in the UK, there would have been help for them – welfare benefits to assist with the burden a disability places on family finances, social services to ensure his needs were met and perhaps to give respite to the family. His medical and educational needs would have been taken care of, and both the quality and length of his life might have been increased. In the Philippines, there was none of this. The Gales family were on their own.

World In Need’s child sponsorship programme can literally mean the difference between life and death for a boy like Joshua. By providing enough to cover his basic needs, such as medication, a sponsor relieves the family of stress and worry and enables them all to enjoy the best life possible in their circumstances.

Joshua was a special little boy who meant a lot to the World In Need teams both in the Philippines and at head office in England. We all feel saddened and diminished by his loss. We pray for his family at this sad time, and will continue to give them our prayer support and love for as long as they need us.

We also pray that in future, through our Child Sponsorship programme, we can ensure other children like Joshua have the best chance possible.