Sewing lessons provided Mariana Prendi, a single mother in Albania, with job skills and a steady income since her husband died in an accident 11 years ago. She says she feels "confident and safe" for her family's future. "Now, I'm learning a vocation that fulfills me and gives me joy."
These stories are typical of what small and inexpensive gifts can do for people in great need. They are not welfare, like so many dead-end American programs. Call them "help-fare," because they help people to become self-sustaining. That's a value embraced by most conservatives and even, I suspect, by some liberals.
World Vision also helps some of the world's estimated 2 million sexually exploited children, most of them girls, through its Trauma Recovery Center. One such girl, "Charity" (real names and countries are not used to protect the children), was rescued from a life of sexual exploitation. Orphaned and alone at age 12, Charity was thrilled when a foreign man asked her to go for a boat ride to an island. You can guess the rest. She was forced into prostitution, but amazingly she escaped. Police brought her to the trauma center where she received counseling, support and training in skills that will allow her to become self-sufficient in the future.
There are many more such stories that could be told and many that won't be told unless people literally give the gift of a new life to people who otherwise are without hope. Gifts are also available for Americans who need a small amount of capital and encouragement to begin to stand on their own feet.
Think about that as you use your charge card for those last-minute gifts that will be too-soon forgotten. The gift of a new life! Despite what the ads tell us, isn't this the real meaning of Christmas?
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