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Good will that makes a difference

03 November 2017

Why not give Christmas gifts that help people living in poverty? Johanna Derry looks at the choice available

Toilet Twinning

Better future: Margret Alfred says that her children are safer thanks to improved hygiene (Tearfund)

Better future: Margret Alfred says that her children are safer thanks to improved hygiene (Tearfund)


Toilet Twinning gift set, £80

TWIN your friend or family member’s lavatory with one in a country of your choice, and they will get a certificate showing their twin, along with a colour photo and GPS co-ordinates, a roll of lavatory paper printed with photos of three pit-latrines, and a bar of aloe vera-, camomile-, and vitamin E-enriched soap.

Tearfund’s Toilet Twinning cam­paign helps to fund the charity’s water and sanitation work: specifically, clean water, proper lavat­ories, and hygiene education for some of the world’s poorest com­munities. Purchases of Toilet Twin­ning gifts all go to support Tear­fund’s water and sanitation work generally, and all these items can also be bought separately: soap is £6, toilet roll £8, and toilet-twinning, £60.

In Margret Alfred’s village, in the Chikwawa district of Malawi, lavat­ories used to be rare. Local materials such as wood were scarce due to drought, and people in Kalu had little incentive to build lava­tories, and they did not understand the link between poor sanitation and disease. As a result, people relieved themselves in the bush. Diarrhoea and cholera were rife, and many people died.

“The stench in our villages was so bad we didn’t like living here,” the village chief, Brighton Kalu, said.

Then a church-based develop­ment organisation, Eagles, started training volunteers to teach their neighbours about hygiene, and how to treat drinking water with chlorine, in a project supported by Toilet Twinning. They taught vil­lagers how to dig pit latrines and make concrete slabs to cover them. “People build their toilets really quickly because they’re so keen to have one,” Ms Alfred says.

Community life and the village’s health have been transformed, Mr Kalu says. “Now I live in a community free of disease. Now we can start to develop.”




Jali lantern, £38; recycled bicycle-chain bookends, £22

TRAIDCRAFT has been supporting fair trade in Africa and Asia since 1979. This year, its Christmas cata­logue features 340 products.

Among the offerings is a hand­made Jali lantern, cut with an intricate floral design reminiscent of lace. It is made using a traditional craft technique known as jali work, where the design is hand-drawn before being cut. The lantern rests on four feet, with a hanging loop attached.

Bookends taken from old bike chains and sculpted into opposite ends of a bicycle may be a better choice for men. Both gifts are made by artisans in Moradabad as part of the Noah’s Ark project in India, where metalworking is a prized tradi­­tional skill, passed down from generation to generation.

Noah’s Ark has been supporting talented artisans since 2000, taking on a multi-talented crowd of paper crafters, wood carvers, metalwork­ers, and painters to ensure the future of traditional handicrafts at a time when commercialism has over­taken authenticity and originality.




All Talks Stick from #gb17, £50

YOU can buy all the talks from Greenbelt this year, themed “The Common Good” (Features, 1 Septem­ber), on a memory stick. While this is not the most exciting gift to look at, it provides a wealth of conversation and thought-provok­ing talks from a variety of perspec­tives.

To keep the festival as accessible as possible, Greenbelt offers a range of discounted and concession ticket deals — besides giving away some tickets each year, through the Open Festival scheme, to people who other­wise would not be able to afford to go to Greenbelt — or any other festival.

Money raised from Talks Sticks goes towards these discounts and the Open Festival scheme, and helps to make a difference beyond the festival by supporting Trust Green­belt, which gives grants to quirky, entrepreneurial community projects that combine arts, faith, and justice.



Practical Action Power for change: mothers and their children at the Connected Clinic (Practical Action)WOODLAND TRUST

Isle of Skye candle, £20

HANDMADE in Scotland by the Isle of Skye Candle Company, this candle burns to give off a fresh woody fragrance. The base notes are made up of Scots pine, bog myrtle, and rosemary, with top notes of peppermint, orange, and patchouli.

Last year, the Woodland Trust bought the ancient but degraded Caledonian pinewood on the shores of Loch Arkaig, in the Highlands. The plan is to remove non-native trees and to restore what is one of the most significant fragments of forest in Scotland. It will take 20 years and about £4 million to do this. From every candle sold, £1 will be set aside specifically for this purpose.




Bog in a Bag, £10

WATERAID offers gift cards as e-cards, or by post, ranging from a £10 “Bog-in-a-bag”, which provides enough cement for a slab latrine, all the way up to a £472 well-and-rope pump.

The amounts for these items are based on actual costs from Water­Aid’s programme work, to give supporters a sense of how much they are able to help with even a small donation. All donations, however, go to where the need is great­est, and towards the charity’s winter appeal: Untapped. All donations made between 1 November and 31 January 2018 will be match-funded by the Depart­ment for International Develop­ment.

St Mary’s Girls’ School, Namalu Town, in the Karamoja region in north-eastern Uganda, has 925 students, both girls and boys, aged eight to 18. WaterAid has worked to install girls’ latrines, a wash area so that girls can care for themselves during their periods, and has started a water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) club to teach children about the importance of washing hands with soap for good health.

Sharon, who is 15 on Christmas Day, boards at the school, and helps to keep the school’s new latrines clean as part of the WASH club.

”Before I joined this club, we had no latrine at home. We would go to the bush; so I had to tell my mum: ‘No, mum! At school I’ve learnt many skills, why don’t we construct a latrine? It is shameful to go to the bush.’ And from then we built a latrine, and the people from the community thanked me so much for what I did.

 “My favourite part of the club is to clean the latrines and the bore­hole. Before, the latrine was not good for us, as all the doors were broken, and it smelt. As we were sharing latrines with boys, we could not enter; we just left it for boys. WaterAid constructed this latrine for our school, and all of us were happy. I feel comfortable going into this latrine.”



WaterAid/Eliza PowellSharon, a boarder at St Mary’s School, Namalu Town, Karamoja, Uganda, is part of a water, sanitation, and hygiene club at her school (Wateraid)WORLD VISION

Three months of self-defence classes for adolescent girls in India, £36

SELF-DEFENCE classes allow girls to become more confident, fit, and healthy, and defend themselves if they find themselves in a com­prom­­­­is­ing situation. This is important for teenage girls around the world.

The price is based on how much it costs for one girl to take part in a group self-defence class for three months. Each gift in World Vision’s gift guide is an item specifically requested by communities as a way to help them create better futures for their children. The money raised goes to the wider work of World Vision, to allow the charity the free­dom to use it in the communities with most need.




Vaccinate 12 village dogs against rabies, £24

ALTHOUGH rabies continues to exist in wild animals (as it does in bats in the UK), it is transmitted to humans through domestic dogs, who pick it up from association with wild dogs. It costs only £2 to vaccinate one dog, and, by vac­cinating the pet dogs in a village, it is possible to wipe out rabies in humans.

The Good Gifts catalogue is a guide to presents that buy exactly what they say they do, curated from multiple charities by the Charities Advisory Trust. Other gifts include supporting dementia clubs in the UK, providing books in Maa for Masai schoolchildren, or buying a bottle of single-variety cold-pressed olive oil from the slopes of the Carmel mountains, to promote peace among Jews, Arabs, Druze, and Bedouin.




Food Care Package, £22

CONTAINING a watering can, seeds, and a shovel, a Food Care Package from Present Aid — the gifts section of Christian Aid — helps women to feed their families, and raises money to improve nutri­tion in malnourished com­munities.

Christian Aid is working with vulnerable rural families in places such as Burkina Faso, to improve the mortality rates of babies over six months old, by training com­munity-health volunteers. They are taught how to screen for malnourished babies, and run work­shops for mothers, teaching them how to make nutritious porridge.

In Burkina Faso, malnutrition is a constant threat, and can be linked to numerous factors, including pov­erty, climate change, education, and health. Almost half of all infant deaths in Burkina Faso are associ­ated with malnutrition, and only 11.4 per cent of all children under two receive the recommended number of daily meals.

Colette had to resort to walking miles, in 450 heat, to search for gold in mines. She carried her baby on her back, risking her and her child’s health to undertake dangerous, insecure work. She made so little that she was often unable to pay health-care costs, and her child suffered from malnutrition.

With the support of Christian Aid’s market-garden project, she has never returned to the mines. She received a garden plot, was trained to grow an abundance of vegetables, and was provided with a watering cans, tools, and seeds.

“The garden changed my life,” she said. “I no longer need to buy vegetables, and my food is very rich now. My children are no longer malnourished. I feel very safe in my garden; it’s very peaceful.”

She can make a healthy meal for her children from what she has grown, and she feels independent and empowered. She can sell the excess vegetables at market to buy clothes, and get health care for her family.

For each item purchased through Present Aid, either the buyer or his or her chosen recipient will receive a card with a picture of the gift, as well as a brief description of how it is used. Every Present Aid gift is part of one of seven funds, covering different types of work: agriculture and livestock, emergency and disaster preparedness, health care (including HIV), training and education, water and environment, basic needs, or climate change.

Money from Present Aid gifts contributes to projects within the relevant fund; and all money raised from Christian Aid’s Christmas ap­­peal this year is being match-funded by the UK Government.



Christian Aid/Mike GoldwaterHealthy: seeds and the use of a garden plot have provided Colette with a better and safer way to feed her family (Christian Aid)PRACTICAL ACTION

Connected Clinic, £10

A GIFT of £10 will help to connect Mashaba clinic, in Zimbabwe, to an electricity supply, and provide vital health care to 6000 members of the community. It will be possible to refrigerate medicines, and mothers will no longer have to give birth by candlelight.

Practical Action is a charity that uses technology to challenge pov­erty in developing countries. Money raised from a gift such as this directly contributes to Practical Action’s wider work in providing energy to places where it can be most effective.

Other gifts, for example, are the Clever Cooker, £38, which helps to tackle indoor smoke pollution, which kills more people worldwide than TB, malaria, and AIDS com­bined. Donating towards buying fuel-efficient stoves for Nepal helps to reduce toxic emissions by 65 per cent, making the air inside homes safer for families to breathe.




Bio-sand water-filter, £66

CLEAN water has an impact on many aspects of life. On average, a bio-sand filter such as A Rocha’s is used by two households of about eight people each. It means that just one water-filter can provide clean water for up to 16 people a day. This saves a family who would otherwise boil their water to drink about £180 per year in charcoal costs, and prevents the cutting down of at least one tree per year.

Through the work of A Rocha, people who have received filters have also reported a reduction in infectious diseases such as cholera, dysentery, and diarr­hoea; fewer working days are lost because of ill­ness and caring for the sick; and less time is lost in fetching and boiling water. Many people previously spent an hour each day boiling their water — time that they can now use more productively.




Help a Ugandan child access clean water at school, £12

ALL WE CAN is helping commun­ities to gain access to clean water and improve their hygiene and sanitation practices: £20 provides a schoolgirl in Uganda with know­ledge of how to create sanitary items that help her to attend school dur­ing her menstrual cycle; and a gift of £50 could help a vulnerable indi­vidual on a remote island in Uganda to gain access to sanitation.

School means everything for girls such as Prossy, who lives in Kasanje, Uganda. Two years ago, Prossy and her friends were often absent be­­cause the water source that they used was a stagnant pond. Open and unprotected, the water in the pond was green with algae, had insects crawling in it, and was the same water source used by local animals. The children drinking this water used to become sick and miss vital days of learning at school.

On the days when Prossy was able to attend school, she found the lack of decent lavatories embar­rassing. Many of her female friends would not attend when they had their period.

All We Can provided a water-harvesting tank in Prossy’s school, new lavatories, and special training in how to be clean-water and sanitation advocates in their school. Within a year, Prossy’s headmistress reported a dramatic change in at­­tend­ance. Children who were pre­­viously missing lessons because of ill health or long walks to collect water are now back in class.

The money raised from every gift goes where the need is greatest across All We Can’s long-term deve­­l­­opment work.




All We Can/Purple Flame MediaWater monitor: Prossy and her friends are grateful for the water-harvesting tank that is now at their school (All We Can)EMBRACE THE MIDDLE EAST

Away in a Manger, £10

DONATE £10 to Embrace the Middle East and you will help mothers-to-be in the West Bank, who face tiring jour­neys, to receive health care. This gift sup­ports a village clinic so that mothers and babies have a local place to go for development checks, medicines, and advice. It comes as a card that sets out how the gift is used, and includes a bookmark to remind you of the charity’s work.

This is just one of Embrace’s alternative gifts, donations from which go directly to the projects that each gift is connected to, until that project is fully funded. Then the money gets used on something similar, or where the need is greatest.




Tools and Seeds, £30

PROVIDE a mother with the tools and seeds that she needs to grow crops, and she will have enough fruit and vegetables to feed her chil­dren: it is an investment in the future. Over time, she will be able to grow more than she needs, and sell the surplus at market, providing an income that she can use to send her children to school.

One in three children in sub-Saharan African suffer from mal-nutrition, which can seriously affect their long-term development. This winter, Send a Cow has launched a Mother & Child appeal to support mothers across East Africa. Instead of handouts, the charity provides mothers with training, support, livestock, and seeds so that they are able to grow their own food and sustainably feed their children. It is an approach that empowers women, and helps them to lift themselves, and their families, out of poverty permanently.

The UK Government is matching all donations made before 31 December, doubling the impact of each gift. Money raised from gifts and donations will be spent on Send a Cow’s livestock and training pro­grammes across all the coun­tries where they work, wherever the need is greatest; but the doubled part of the donation goes directly to the Mother & Child project.


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