The festive season can make the gap between the haves and the have-nots glaringly apparent, but thankfully charitable gifts are becoming more popular.
Tearfund was the first charity in New Zealand to produce a catalogue of meaningful gifts to support its overseas projects – chickens, goats, seed packets and emergency food packages all help, as do gifts that provide high school scholarships, improve access to clean water, and assist the Auckland-based organisation to rescue and rehabilitate victims of trafficking.
Helen Manson, head of Tearfund Field Communications in Uganda, has lived there for the past four years. She sees firsthand what access to clean water can do for a family. “When you don’t have enough water you are forced to either go without it or travel in search of unsafe water to drink,” she explains. “Without it, people get sick and in extreme cases, die.”
Uganda is in the midst of a refugee crisis. More than a million South Sudanese – mostly women and children – have crossed the border into Uganda over the past year to escape violence, killings and famine.
The Situation in Uganda
Emergency water trucking is sustaining many South Sudanese refugees in the Ugandan UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) camps, but Manson says these trucks might come twice a week if they’re lucky. “That means the average person is receiving about 1.2 litres a day for cooking, cleaning, washing and drinking.” The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommendation is 15 litres per person a day.
What makes it more difficult is the heat, Manson says. “Imagine not being able to enjoy a glass of water on a hot day when you’re sweating and tired. Things get really tricky for pregnant women who need to deliver a baby with little to no water access or when they need to breastfeed.”
Mary and her daughter Sunday came to Uganda from South Sudan to flee the war. “I would wake up … and see people who had died during the night … we had to run,” Mary says. She’s grateful to Uganda for opening its doors “with one heart”, but says there isn’t enough water. “One hour after a water truck fills the tank, it can run out; that’s because about 700 people rely on this tank for water,” she says. “We never have enough.”
Manson says Kiwis are becoming “more aware of the huge gap in our world between the rich and the poor. When you consider how good we have it, there comes a certain responsibility to do something.”
Manson lives in Uganda with her husband and two daughters. For Christmas she has asked for a water truck delivery for the South Sudanese refugees. “And some KitKats because, well, I’m human.”
Shop online for a gift that gives at giftforlife.co.nz. Gifts start at just $10.