While many expats living in Haiti look forward to their trip home for Christmas as relief from the hot Haitian weather, as per usual things are a little different for the token Aussie girl. My festive season, down under in the southern hemisphere, will be full of long summer days spent at the beach, backyard barbeques, cricket matches and plenty of siestas. This is my favourite time of year where my family and many extras will come together to create memories, to be thankful for the blessings in our lives and to enjoy the spirit of giving.
For a long time now I have been a supporter of thoughtful, ‘out of the box’ gift ideas which go against the consumerism typically thrown in our faces. I have enjoyed choosing gifts from the ranges of products available in NGO giving catalogs. Yep, I am proud to say I am that friend/family member who buys you a goat for a family in Africa, an economical stove for a mother in Asia, or donates to a disaster relief appeal on your behalf. To have spent the last couple of weeks working with Amy and Jenn to put together Second Mile’s 4th Annual Holiday Giving Catalog has been an absolute pleasure. Through the long hours, many packets of skittles and pots of coffee we have put together a catalogue which encompasses our priorities for 2016. The great range of gifts and prices will impress even the most discerning giver or receiver. Having the opportunity to go through last year’s catalogue I was amazed to see how the gifts are now an everyday part of our project. Whether it is the solar panels and batteries that provide energy to our whole site, the addition of a new nurse to help support our growth or the Haojin motorbike with extended cart that delivers business packages to graduate moms.
Choosing to give a gift from our catalog this year, won’t just connect you to our work but also to the recipient in Haiti who also gets to share in the giving. When you give to Second Mile you join a network of likeminded people who get an inside look at where your money is being invested.
I can’t wait to see this Holiday Giving campaign through to completion, from launching the catalogue, to selling out of gifts, to sharing stories and pictures with each of you so that you can see what an impact you have made.
Now let me introduce you to your gift catalogue categories and a few of my top picks.
First off, there are gifts that save lives. These are the items that a malnourished child admitted to our program needs to meet their immediate needs. For only $150 you can provide formula to see a tiny baby grow into a healthy baby. What makes this gift special to me is that it benefits children who may have already lost their biggest fighter, their mom. It is a beautiful thing to see an Aunt, a grandmother or a friend taking on the huge responsibility of caring for another woman’s child and giving them a fighting chance.
Next we have gifts that change lives and these fit right into our hand up not a hand out approach. These are gifts which go the second mile to help our moms get the knowledge, resources and support they need to care for their families and thrive as moms, business owners and women. For $20 you can give a month’s supply of literacy tools used in daily classes. Literacy is something I know I take for granted. It’s a basic skill which builds confidence. More than half of the women who come to Second Mile have had 3 or less years of formal education in their lifetime. In the classes they are taught math, writing and language skills.
Our ‘other gifts’ category has 3 miscellaneous items for those seeking a practical gift! For $10 you can give the gift of memories. I have enjoyed many fond moments with my parents looking back on childhood photos and talking about those old memories. At Second Mile we provide each of our graduating moms with a photo album which tracks their child’s road to recovery and shows just how far they have come. It’s a symbol of success, empowerment and growth.
Our final category has our big ticket items and they are gifts that take us places. Having worked on Second Mile’s sustainability efforts since I came on-board I’m excited to share this gift. For $500 you can get behind our effort to be self sufficient and allow us to buy items which help us grow endeavours such as our Social Business “Tou Natirel.” All profits from locally made and sold products go back into supporting families in our program and ensuring our doors are always open.
If you REALLY want to give a gift that keeps on giving, a gift that you can see impacting lives in Haiti then you simply cannot let Second Mile’s Holiday giving catalogue pass you by. So come, join the club! Forget the Christmas rush, long lines and hours wasted thinking of a gift that won’t disappoint Aunt Sue!! BE that family member or friend who buys the goat, soap, medicine or business package and I promise you will get that ‘this is what Christmas is really about’ feeling.
Ps its also the perfect gift when you’re told no gifts this year but you know everyone still will ;)