This Christmas, let’s think about how we can unwrap joy

For many of us, Christmas is a time of hope, it’s a time to come together and reflect on the year past, and begin to think about the year ahead. Christmas is also a time to rejoice and celebrate the true message of Christmas: the Son of God came to earth in human form to save us, his own creation.

In Zambia this Christmas we hope that people will be celebrating too; the return of the rains and the harvest ahead, a future with abundance, and a confidence that they can feed their families. As in many places around the world, families in Zambia, gather around food and song at Christmas, and celebrate the birth of Christ.

I had the great privilege to visit Zambia last year and meet some of the women from the Eastern Province of the country, where Send a Cow is working to support small-scale family farmers to grow their own futures.

I met Catherine, and her children Amos and Gift, who proudly showed us their energy efficient home-built oven, their drying rack, and what they’d managed to achieve. I went on to meet Mercy, and many others, who now know that where there is land, there is hope.

The Dioceses of Bath and Wells has had links with Zambia over the last 40 years, so meeting people from the communities we’re connected to, and finding out about Send a Cow’s  opportunities for churches to get involved was really exciting.

As excitement grows among children (and adults) for the flurry of unwrapping gifts, one of my hopes for this season is that we can think about how we can unwrap a little joy for others, in our global community.

Climate change is on the lips of all family farmers in Zambia, as the rains have become more unpredictable, the soil tired, and the harvests unreliable. Christmas, at least, doesn’t have to cost the earth, there are more meaningful gifts you can buy, to unwrap joy, (and keep your Christmas plastic-free); bringing tangible support to those already adapting to the uncertain weather patterns we too are seeing.

One simple solution that can be truly transformational is that of rainwater harvesting. When families can install a tin roof on their homes, the storage areas capture rainwater runoff, and direct it into a tank. This means that no matter when the rainy season comes, water is available, to keep crops thriving.

When you’re blessed with a good life, it’s natural to want to pass on something to the people you love. But imagine passing on something precious to families like Catherine’s, and Mercy’s: a future free from hunger and a future full of hope.

Principally, it was the women I met in Zambia who are driving change in their lives; the lives of their families, and their communities. Even with barren land and limited resources, the Send a Cow approach asks people to start with what they have, to bring hope to their lives, and self-belief through what they can achieve. I saw first-hand, that we shouldn’t underestimate the hope that change is possible.

Send a Cow are helping people to look after themselves so they have more than they need and can share it with others. This Christmas, I encourage you to celebrate all that we are blessed with, but to also pause and reflect on how we can bring hope to others.

Every good wish to all whom you love and all whom you pray for

If you’re wondering how you can unwrap joy for families in Africa, you can find out more by visiting www.sendacow/gifts

By Bishop Ruth Worsley


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