Monday, November 27, 2006

What to give?

Living entirely within our own culture, we live by its standards of 'have' and 'have not'. In Australia, poverty is defined in relative terms. The bottom 10% of Australians are poor in relation to the other 90%. In relation to Africans, they live a life of plenty.

I am not in that bottom 10% and my children are grown so my expenses have dropped dramatically. Yet, even so, I have to remind myself that my surplus can be given away, it does not have to be accummulated or stored in case of bad times.

The children at St Jude's love to get stickers.

Charities ask for our help at every corner. Every day there is an approach from someone seeking donations for a very worthy cause. Door knock appeals, ribbon days, bear days, jeans days – all the gimmicks of modern marketing are used to catch our attention and appeal for our donation.

So, there I was, wanting to adjust the balance between my 'have' and others' 'have not'. I was drawn in the direction of supporting a single project. When I heard about the School of St Jude on 'Australian Story', there was no reason to hold back.

Hal, my husband, raised with me the subject of tithing – giving one-tenth of one's income. We decided that we would tithe to the School of St Jude. So, we send a donation each month (income permitting). This is not an automatic transfer, we have to decide to do it each month. That keeps our sense of purpose fresh.

I have to say that our lifestyle is not suffering though our retirement fund won't be as big as it would otherwise have been.

As well as giving a lump of money, we see things for the school all around us and we sometimes buy little things to send in the post. Like the stickers you see at the top of this post.

The school website lists some things that supporters can send for the children at the school.

For boys and girls:

Pens, lead pencils, colour pencils, markers, erasers, rulers and sharpeners always go well. A pencil-case, a dictionary, e.g. Nicholas Awde: Swahili-English, English-Swahili Practical Dictionary (Hippocrene). A school backpack or a library bag. Clothing? Families can get second hand clothing cheaply in the markets in town, but spare dark blue socks or something new is always a treat. Maybe a hat or a cap, a comb, a doll or stuffed animal, action figures or lego. The children absolutely love receiving stickers! If you send something to several children, please make sure the gift is divisible so as to not have arguments about who takes the present home.

For girls:

A skipping rope, inexpensive jewellery (e.g. from a $2-shop) or nail polish. If you send skirts or dresses, be aware that in this culture mini-skirts are not appropriate.

For boys:

A football, a pump for the football, juggling balls, frisbee.

Do not send DVDs, computer games or things that require electricity or batteries. Even though batteries are available here, we do not want the children to then have to ask their parents for batteries.

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We encourage you to send a little of your surplus to the School of St Jude. Even an envelope of stickers in the mail will surprise and delight.

1 comment:

Lea. said...

WOW!