It’s been a confusing year for me. COVID-19 did so much to command my attention and drain my energy, I sometimes couldn’t find my usual passion for social justice.
It’s been harder to catch the flame from others, too. Promoting justice through parades and peaceful demonstrations has been trickier while distancing socially. I’ve dearly missed these opportunities.
True, many Canadians have continued the fight, both by demonstrating publicly or campaigning online. Petitions, Zoom discussions and social media campaigns are powerful tools indeed.
But I’ve missed that usual ‘fire in the belly’ feeling that comes when I can share my passion, whenever, wherever and however I feel called.
Reflecting at Christmas
As a Christian, I often remember that Jesus himself was a refugee for the first years of his life, living in a foreign country while fleeing persecution aimed directly at him.
I think about the way he taught people about caring for those who are marginalized. Not just feeding, healing and sheltering – but by joining with them at their table.
Venezuelan refugees crossing the border into Colombia. Photo: Chris Huber
As 2020 draws to a close, what can we do to help renew the world, so everyone has a voice and opportunity – regardless of race, gender, or economic situation?
Christmas gifts for justice
I’ve written about the World Vision Gift Catalogue every Holiday season for more than a decade, focusing on themes like love, joy and possibility.
But this year, I realized that the Catalogue is also a powerful tool for social justice.
Every gift in its pages honours people’s rights by meeting their needs. Some aim to further equality and empowerment among the most marginalized people of all – including women and girls. Some gifts offer opportunities to overturn economic injustice.
A few of the gifts are especially powerful social justice offerings for this Christmas season. Here are the seven at the top on my list:
1. Support girls’ education
Girls face barriers to an education, including poverty, cultural norms, poor infrastructure, violence and instability in their regions. By sending girls to school, you help open doors that life has closed.
In Bangladesh, eleven-year-old Ima frequently cuts her hands while working full-time at a shrimp processing plant. Photo: Laura Reinhardt
2. Combat climate change
Developing countries often feel the worst of global climate change through natural disasters, food crises and limited water sources. This eco-friendly gift helps families learn sustainable farming, water management, income diversification and new ways to help their environment.
3. Help families start businesses
Economic injustice keeps families in a never-ending cycle of poverty. When you give a microloan or equipment and business training to struggling families, you help reverse that injustice. As loans are repaid your gift will be re-loaned, to help other families and small businesses.
Photo: Nick Ralph
4. Help women entrepreneurs
This gift helps bring gender equality to communities while empowering women to start small businesses. This gift helps provide things like sewing machines, cloth, agricultural tools, business training and access to markets. With contributions from corporate partners and the Canadian government, each gift multiplies 7X in value.
5. Tools for children with disabilities
Life in poverty brings additional social injustice for children dealing with physical, intellectual and learning disabilities. You can empower them, helping provide items like wheelchairs, educational toys, training to parents and teachers, and more.
Photo: Limbikani Kamlongera
6. Support street children
Almost nothing about life is just for children in developing countries forced into life on the streets. This gift provides things like safe shelter, counselling and the help of advocacy for children who have nowhere else to turn.
7. The Women and Girls in Crisis Fund
Education, job training, counselling and healthcare are powerful tools for girls denied schooling, abused or forced into child marriage or sexual exploitation. Help stand up for their rights, through this gift of change.
If you find yourself yearning to act for social justice this Holiday season, the World Vision Gift Catalogue can be a deeply fulfilling new tradition. Especially at a time when the world seems even more upside down than usual.