This Christmas we will be in Swaziland and hope to join in with local celebrations. Swaziland is primarily Zionist, a blend of Christianity and indigenous ancestral worship, so Christmas is still celebrated.
We hope to add some colour to their already colourful celebrations with the kind donation of handmade beanies, bags and dresses from some of our supporters here in Australia towards the Swazi children. These along with some pencils, clothing and balls will be distributed through the home-based care unit as part of Christmas celebrations.
But is this kind of giving useful?
A Chinese proverb I once came across read:
If you want happiness for an hour… take a nap.
If you want happiness for a day… go fishing.
If you want happiness for a year… inherit a fortune.
If you want happiness for a lifetime… help somebody.
Yes we genuinely want to help. Particularly for those of you that are Christian, it is our moral imperative. We desire to do good. Sometimes however, in this process of desiring to doing good it becomes all about us… and what started as good intentions turns very subtly into selfishness. Let’s be honest – doing good feels good!
Genuine help looks past what we think might be useful to really thinking about what the local people need and desire. It is on their terms not ours. This kind of giving is a great starting point and connects our hearts in Australia to the Swazi people through your gifts. The positive is that we know the gifts will end up with the poorest because of local knowledge as well as the fact that we are handing them over ourselves. They will definitely bring on many smiles and for this we are so grateful.
However what I am really excited about is the money raised by family and friends. This will boost their local economy as we buy produce and provide short-term relief in the form of practical gifts like shoes, soap, food, school supplies, but also school fees and uniforms. This kind of giving is both practical and effective.
We have to be careful that the picture we generate is not one of ‘powerful giver’ and ‘helpless recipient’. This creates the impression of a one-way, rather than two-way relationship. We definitely do not want to be seen as the righteous donor riding in on a valiant steed to save the “poor people” from their lives of misery.
The poor are poor because of lack of choices and opportunities.
They have the knowledge of what is needed for their community. We are there to learn from them, build relationship and support each other. Our prayer is that over the next month this will be the start of our journey with the Swazi people.
Thank you so much to everyone who generously gave. We will endeavour to keep you updated… internet access pending of course!