At our sponsor sites in Bolivia, the Christmas season is an incredibly special and anticipated time of the year. In 2019, families and children at our Leventate Mujer site warmly celebrated the birth of Jesus with a joyous community gathering, thanks to the kind supporters who donated to our Christmas fund!
The planning for this long-awaited event began well in advance. Chalice family circles, comprised of parents of sponsored children, eagerly helped arrange music, gifts, and food for the party. They were especially keen to share recipes for custom chocolates and traditional fritters! One group was in charge of rehearsing traditional Christmas carols and arranging a dance for the children to learn. Each and every participant put so much effort into preparing for this jubilant event.
The children of St. Mary’s School for the Visually Impaired are gathered in their assembly hall, squirming with anticipation. Their teacher tells them it’s time, and they burst into song. To the tune of Frere Jacques, they sing “Father Christmas, Father Christmas, where are you?” When they get to the words “Ring your bell, ring your bell,” Santa’s bell clangs as he enters the room, an older student dressed in costume. When the song ends, he addresses the crowd, “I wish you a Merry Christmas!”.
“Amen!” they reply.
“I wish that all your dreams come true.”
As the choir breaks into We Wish You a Merry Christmas, Santa and his helper distribute treats to all the children.
The Christmas celebration is a special time for children and staff. Children live far away from home to study at the specialized school in Kawambwa, Zambia, and the Sisters, teachers, and classmates become their family. The celebration is a time of prayerful thanksgiving, singing, and of course, a feast!
In many communities surrounding our Nairobi site in Kenya, a lack of employment opportunities has been an ongoing issue, especially for young adults. In these areas, it’s a constant struggle for many individuals to find stable, well-paying work that they can rely on for a steady income.
Our East Africa Coordinator, Martha, walks by a particular corner every day on her way to and from work. Known as the “jobless corner,” young men would wait here to be approached and chosen for daily wage labour jobs. She would see these same young men waiting for work, day in and day out. A naturally social person, Martha would stop and chat, and got to know the young men over many months.
Martha was saddened by their stories. Despite their best efforts, they were chronically unemployed, and their families were suffering. So Martha did what she does best – she educated them! She met with them as a group, listened, connected them to local resources, and gave shape to their dreams. Upon learning about their skills and potential, she arranged for the group to receive entrepreneurship workshops and financial training thanks to kind Chalice donors. Thus, the “Njiru Stars” youth group was born!
One of the long-cherished dreams of families at our Samar sponsor site in the Philippines is to build a life where the social, cultural, and economic capabilities of each family member are nurtured and developed. A great starting point for families to start reaching for success together is by owning a safe and secure home. For most low-income earners, including sponsored families at our site, this lifetime dream is often so difficult to achieve due to inadequate space and insufficient finances.
So far, Chalice’s COVID-19 disaster fund has distributed nearly $613,000 to families at our sites who have been hit the hardest by the global pandemic. At our Arica site in Chile, $12,453.35 was used to help sponsored children and elders, including non-sponsored elders with chronic medical conditions who were abandoned by their families and are living alone.
In Chile, elders over the age of 75 were prohibited from going outside regularly due to the pandemic, forcing them to make quick outings to higher priced neighborhood convenience stores because they had no one to travel to nearby cheaper supermarkets for them. While elders in Chile do receive a small pension, it is barely enough to survive. Without family support, most seniors live a lonely existence, unable to afford their medications or nutritious food. According to a report by the Ministry of Social Development, the price of a basic food basket rose in October 2019, then again in January, and doubled in April 2020, making it even harder for poor elders and families to make ends meet.
Less than 20 percent of people living in rural Tanzania have access to electricity. Expanding the electrical grid to remote rural areas would require significant funding, which would conflict with other much-needed services such as education, health, and road infrastructure. While it’s recognized that access to electricity is a major barrier to economic expansion, there are currently no plans to increase the electrical grid.
Families at our sites use candles and kerosene lamps for light and wood stoves for cooking. These families are often poor, so these costly light sources are used sparingly so homework and any other tasks not finished before sundown are left undone. Thanks to generous donations to our gift catalogue, families from our Neema site were thrilled to be given the gift of solar lights, which in essence, is a gift of extra time as they can do more after dark than they could before!
The vulnerable have been the most affected by the current COVID-19 global pandemic. We have been working hard with our staff on the ground to ensure that families and communities in need have the essential resources needed to survive this unprecedented disaster.
To date, nearly $613,000 CAD has been distributed to 44 of our sites in 14 countries, helping thousands of families in dire need of support. We’ve used funds generously entrusted to us through our disaster relief fund, gift catalogue program, and our COVID disaster fund (totaling $400,000 CAD to date). Thanks to these thoughtful contributions, extra family funds, food baskets, and essential items have been distributed to those in most need.
A local bakery at our Samar site in the Philippines is supporting mothers, boosting confidence, and giving nearby schools and families access to delicious goodies!
Our Samar site is located on a small island, where businesses, jobs, and goods are limited. Chalice sponsorship allows struggling children to attend school, and eases the financial burden on parents. Parents of sponsored children are also organized into family circles, where they keep track of budgets and plan for the future. Sometimes, they even launch their own small businesses for extra income.
Luz is the president of her family circle, known as “Zone 3”. Two years ago, they received small business start-up funds through our gift catalogue. Maricel, our Samar site director, had the brilliant idea to start a bakery, as there were no other competing bakeries nearby. The group decided to name their new business the “Bethlehem Bake Shop”!
A former sponsored child from our Kawambwa site in Zambia has become a valuable asset to a school for blind children thanks to his specialized teaching skills!
Fancy was born with albinism, a rare genetic disorder that affects skin pigment and vision. When Fancy was old enough to go to school, he attended St. Odelia’s School for the Visually Impaired, but his family struggled to afford school fees and other basic needs. When he was nine, Fancy was chosen by a Chalice sponsor, which was a great relief for his family. Throughout the years, he thoroughly enjoyed having close relationship with his sponsor, especially when they wrote to him and sent cards for special occasions. “I felt like I knew them personally,” he smiles.