Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Double the Power of Your Christmas Gifts

I suspect I'm not alone in that I always feel a bit torn at Christmas. Yes, I love buying shiny, expensive things for my children and grandchildren and watching them exclaim over them; yes, I love all the bright lights and sparkles of the season. And yet, it always feels a bit much, a bit greedy in light of what's going on all around us and far beyond our borders.

I love the idea of making charitable donations at Christmas, but they're hard to wrap and you can't hand them out around the tree, which typically means that I'm spending double the money every year, buying stuff for my loved ones and handing out cash to feed and clothe and otherwise support all those folks we should think about all year but often forget about until food drives and fundraisers put them back in our line of vision.

And that's okay; I'll probably do the same thing this year and feel good about it, too. I want my kids and grandkids to have shiny packages that make their eyes light up on Christmas morning. I want everyone else's kids to, too.

But this year, at least, I've found one option that covers all the bases. If you're a regular reader here, you've undoubtedly heard me mention Kwagala Project before. Kwagala (fka Purse of Hope) is an organization that provides aftercare to young victims of the commercial sex trade in Africa.

I first became involved with Kwagala because my former employer, Total Attorneys, funded a house in Gulu where these girls could live, learn, become a family and prepare for their new lives. In the intervening four years, I have been consistently amazed by the resilience and capacity for joy in these young women. Many of them were kidnapped, sold or forced by desperation into prostitution at an age when our girls are still playing with Polly Pockets and dressing up as princesses. But instead of holding on to bitterness and focusing on what they've been through, these dauntless young women work hard, play hard, laugh, sing and are endlessly grateful for the support they receive and the new lives ahead of them.

I don't think anything has made me cry quite so often as the hearts of these girls.

One of the first things the girls can do, while they're starting to transition, when they have little training or limited time, is to make jewelry. For many, this jewelry-making is the first paid work they've ever done outside of prostitution, and their first step toward saving money to build new lives for themselves.

Now, Kwagala is offering that jewelry for sale in time for Christmas. Please check it out, and check back over the next few days--we'll be adding many more items. Wouldn't you and the recipients of your gifts like to know that you're supporting a courageous young woman in her new life as you shop?

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