I was sad that I missed the annual Ugly Christmas Sweater Party this year. If I had known I would be in Zambia for Christmas I definitely would have packed the awesome light up attire. But Africa has changed my perspective on the Christmas spirit.
My Christmas Thought from Africa:
Zambians are very friendly people. There are all sorts of levels of employment from management to a daily cleaner position. Our cleaner is very friendly, very happy to have a job where 80% of the population is unemployed. His 4 brothers and sisters have come to visit him for their school Christmas break. As the oldest he pays for his brothers and sisters to go to school. I thought that was great that he helps them.
I have now found out that a year of school for his siblings is equivalent to one months salary. That is equivalent to $100 Canadian dollars. Not only has he moved away from home, required to work to pay his rent and feed himself, but he also needs to provide for his family and put them through school. A hundred bucks doesn’t seem like much to us, but in Africa that makes the difference between eating or going to school.
I take life lessons from my parents who are extremely generous people. In my teens I remember going shopping with them to fill baskets with food and gifts to give to families that were in need. (i even remember one year dad getting off a speeding ticket because we were on route to deliver baskets) Last year they fostered 4 siblings over Christmas so they could be together for the holiday. This year a coworker and I decided to pay for the cleaner’s siblings to go to school next year because it will greatly help him and his family. Its only a small gesture on our part, but his appreciation made us both realize how much our generosity meant to him. I want to urge everyone to think about the holiday season carefully. What can your child do with 10 new toys that they cant do with 5 or 2? Focus on quality, not quantity, and maybe you can teach your children the importance of helping others rather that just asking for presents. Canada is not immune to poverty. Take that money you would use for extra, unneeded gifts and take your child shopping for food or toys that will be donated to those in need. Not only will you have personal satisfaction for donating, but you could really change a family’s holiday. Its always better to give than to receive.
Merry Christmas to all my family and friends back home. I will see you soon!