13 December, 2017
As a child, Christmas was always exciting for me. I remember well the joy of creating a gift for my mum or dad: gluing shells and pasta to a frame and wrapping it up in paper I had decorated myself. I was practically shaking with excitement as I watched them open the gift. They’d given me so much and now it was my turn. As a parent, a grandparent, aunty or uncle, a neighbour or a friend you might be in a position to enjoy watching others open their gifts with excitement this Christmas.
But there’s always two sides to giving. The giver and the receiver. The gift and its value. The intention of the gift and the appreciation it generates.
In fact, it is through receiving that we become givers, and it is through giving that we enable others to bring generosity full circle.
Blais’s life is an example of generosity that has come full circle. Blais is a cocoa farmer in the Solomon Islands. He grew up in poverty and his mother died while he was still young. As a husband and a father, Blais struggled to provide for his family. The cocoa market in the Solomon Islands has suffered from poor reputation due to low produce quality.
Discounted pricing, despite the rapid growth of the craft chocolate market, has seen small-scale farmers earn low incomes. But Blais’s life changed when he participated in training from ADRA’s Soul Cocoa project. Working with ADRA, he learnt techniques to improve the process of fermenting and drying the cocoa beans. The practical training helped him improve the quality of his beans and he was able to attract a higher price for his produce.
Blais can now provide for his family.
But Blais wanted more. He wanted others in his community to benefit from his newfound skills so he taught them what he learnt. He also helped form a community savings group to cover school fees and other expenses for community members in need. “I don’t want anyone to be left behind,” he says. “I want everyone to grow and improve together.”
Like Blais, many of us are often compelled to be generous with what we have. But generosity needs to be intentional. During last year’s Christmas season Australians spent an estimated $9.8 billion on gifts with a high percentage of spending from credit card use. In December of last year Australians collectively borrowed a record $28 billion through credit cards. Many overspent and started the year with an average of $1,666 in credit card debt. And what is more, unintentionally our giving can cause others harm. Some of the gifts we give have often been made by underpaid workers in sweatshops, and when the gifts we give or receive are unwanted and unused, they contribute to landfill and pollution.
It may be time we found other ways to be generous with what we have.
Supporting ADRA’s Christmas Appeal is a way you can continue to be generous without causing harm. In fact, this kind of generosity is transformational.
This Christmas, why not buy a life-changing gift and partner with ADRA to help people and communities in need thrive not only at Christmas, but all year through? You can choose from many and varied: a $2 exercise book for a young student in Malawi; a $10 hot meal for an Australian doing it tough; a $45 beehives for a woman in Africa to produce honey and earn a living; a $125 wheelbarrow for a cocoa farmer in the Pacific to multiply their yields. Gifts range from $2 to $14,000 and you can purchase yours today.
As you are compelled by love to see others thrive this Christmas, you will enable generosity to come full circle.
~ ~ ~
Beth Morrow is an intern at ADRA Australia.