There has been a couple of heart breaking stories circulating in Facebook lately: One in Swedish, where a little boy tells how he wears worn out clothes, has to be “sick” when there are school trips every second week where he would have to take some food to take along and there just is no extra to take, and who only gets a carrot on the “fruit day” because there just is not enough money to buy fruit. Obviously there are kids who tease him. The girl who offers him her fruit gets told off by the teacher.
The other story is about a little boy in Massachusetts in the U.S. who has trouble with his speech and likes to wear a tie and shirt to school. Others tease him about his way of speaking and the “weird” clothes he has. And then one day 45 of the boys friends turn up to school as well dressed in a tie and a shirt. That night the boy cried when going to bed, because he felt so much love.
The first story is fictive but it could be real (sorry, can’t link to it as it circulates as a status but it has been started by Fruktkampen). The thing is, in Sweden, as in Finland, we pay a lot of tax to pay for free education for all. Further, during the school day every pupil is by law entitled to a nutritious meal without any extra cost. This is to make sure every child gets an equal chance to a decent life, and this is something we have chosen to pay for as societies. When there are costs added, it creates inequality and bullying. Also, it seems that we have forgotten that not everyone is lucky in life, there are those who have fallen through the safety networks of our societies and who will not even be able to buy one present to their children this Christmas.
We can all share the Christmas spirit, the fun, and it may mean that we only need to wear the same clothes as somebody else does for a day. But if we can afford to buy many gifts to our children, maybe we instead of buying that last gift want to teach our kids also about the joy of giving, and put down the money on present we together choose to somebody else? This will be one task in our sustainable but fun advent calendar.
A few opportunities:
- You can participate in the Lahja lapselle (= A gift to a child) collection organised by the Malmi parish and the Helsinki city 18.11-10.12.2013. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 09 2340 4534 2-4pm. You will get a wish from a child, you should buy it and bring it to Malmi parish. The deacons will bring the gifts to the children that the social workers have chosen. A wish can at the most cost 40e. You can also give a gift voucher. The aim is to raise gifts for 400 children.
- A similar campaign in Turku and Kaarina will be found here in Finnish 28.11-4.12. I am happy to translate, if there is a need.
- You may be more interested of helping children in other countries. One good way is to become a godmother/godfather via Sos Lapsikylä.
You are welcome to share other good ways to share the joy!
You can find wishing trees at some shopping malls in Australia where you can buy a gift for a stranger. You take a tag with some basic details (age, sex) and leave the gift with the tag under the tree. We like to choose kids the same age as our kids to drive the point home.
Sounds like there are a lot of good options in Finland.
B, that sounds like a great way to remember others. It makes sense to choose somebody in the same age, it is easier to pick a good gift too, when you through your kids know what it “in”. Thanks for sharing!
Every year we get an “angel” from the tree of a local charity and make sure we fill the “need” portion and get at least one thing from the “want” portion. Just a little bit to help out those who need it, and to help remind myself how blessed we truly are. I’m glad you shared and offered options for others to participate!
Kate, that sounds like a lovely way to contribute – and still enjoy your own life too!