The Bells On Christmas Day | A Christmas Wish For International Children’s Rights & Justice

Every year, I set out to make these Christmas cards, which are meant to be a blessing to our donors and supporters.

The cards are meant to be a gift that shares about our progress, and the needs of the children in our village.

A year’s worth of images flash past my mind’s eye each season progressively as I work on them; tired mothers with health problems and sickly little malnourished babies wriggling in their arms, to the random little orphans from baby eyes that engage to slightly older children that don’t respond to the sound of their names anymore when you call them out, to the boisterous school-children who are so proud of their uniforms, and twirl like little princes and princesses around and around in their beloved little uniforms and shoes, and the frowns and tears of the little ones that didn’t get picked for scholarships that they deserved this year. It’s hard to get that all of those visions and experiences to fit into a Christmas card – but we try.

We work to show the joy that their contributions have given, but still help the receivers to understand how delicate and fragile our operations really are.  Within 24 hours of little to no funding, all of those beautiful moments are changed into rooms full of hungry, desperate people.  Happy baby coos and grins turn into tears, smiles into frowns, and pretty little tutus, stuffed animals and books on the shelves turn from being joyful gifts – into secondhand values in exchange for food.

We want our greetings to be warm and connecting, and gentle — and it is hard to find the right combination between what we are doing, and what we could do — with a little bit more help.

From simple socks, to more complicated school shoes.  For school tuition, and uniforms.  For groceries, and backpacks – and extracurricular activities like music classes and art lessons, and baking projects.  It’s hard to explain to someone who has never been there – how much those simple therapeutic activities help them to heal.

How do we connect people with their abilities to the needs of the people they could truly save? How do we teach them that they have so much power? That their help makes such a difference in whether a child lives, a child has joy, or suffers?  How do we tell them what it is like to plan the burial of a child who would have been sitting at your dinner table every night with a little more help.

For about a week during our Christmas-card season, I become a bit heavy with needs – and take on the persona of a mixture of Ann Hathaway and Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada – through the production of our most important magazine – which just happens to be our Christmas cards.

So much information and experiences have to be “processed” in order to somehow convert our hopes into a visual format that fits on the image spaces of an 81/2 by 11 folded in half – or smaller than that in years when we don’t have enough funding.

It would be a hard job for a publisher — negative the emotional pressure of meeting the needs of children that you love in a really harsh world.

On a good year, I’m that girl – the one that managed to get the copy of Harry Potter before it was published – because that’s about how difficult it is to jump through all of the bureaucracy and hoops that it takes to put food into the hands of the world’s most needy, I managed printing, I managed international trips, and I tuck them in at night with teddy bears – and somehow turn their childhoods into something simple and beautiful again.

I know the difference that can be made saves lives. And it is so miserable to be on the end that has to decide against helping someone who desperately needs it, because pennies are too much that day.

Many of the items that will be purchased and given this Christmas season in developed nations were produced by offshore slave labor.  We encourage you to look at your favorite gift – and learn about the people who made it this year.   We encourage you to research your favorite companies – and ask if they have a way to give back to their employees.  If their average employee sleeps in a bed, if their children go to school, if they eat three meals a day, do they have access to basic healthcare?  It does not help any company to boycott their products – but it does help to be the voice that asks the questions that give them the encouragement to do the right thing, against profit margins.  You don’t need more – you just need the right things.

Are malnourished children exporting your favorite fruits and flavors for the holiday season?  From the poor children in Chile that pick your plums, to the cranberry gifts of the indians to the Pilgrims – there is hope in human rights as soon as one recognizes and addresses each small injustice.

I believe that there is a spiritual reason why Lincoln is on the penny – the smallest valued coin of American currency.

There was once a time when people thought that society could not survive in comfort without slaves.  It took many nations several hundred years – and many generations – and education – to convince governments and leadership – that a better way exists.

I pray that this Christmas season, every time you hear a bell ring, you remember children’s rights and children’s labor – and do something to make a difference for their well-being – even if it is as simple as just sharing one of our posts.

In conditions and nations where those laws don’t exist, you find a lot of orphans – because the working conditions of the people are not fit for survival, and vulnerable children who don’t have someone to protect them are the ones most at risk for slavery.  So your next question could be – are the rights of the vulnerable recognized?  Do they have a way to go to school?  Do they have a safe place to go, and to grow – and be educated to be people who can give back to their communities…

Lincoln would have believed in the well-being of these children, too.

…and at Energy of Hope – that’s what you help us do.

You are rescuing the children who are facing a lifetime of injustices, and giving them the protection and the education and the life that honors the original little baby – who was laid in a manger.  

Once you help them, their possibilities are endless.

Here is one of the songs that I wish you would include in your own Christmas soundtrack.   This song is a Christmas carol that was written during the civil war – and as we currently battle against civil injustices of poverty, slavery, and violations of human rights daily – this is one of the songs of our 2017 Christmas Season soundtrack.

The lyrics of the song were slightly adapted from a poem entitled ‘Christmas Bells” written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in 1863, during the Civil War – which were later set to music.

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,

and wild and sweet
The words repeat

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom

Had rolled along
The unbroken song

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,

A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,

And with the sound
The carols drowned

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,

And made forlorn
The households born

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;

“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;

                                                     The Wrong shall fail,
                                                        The Right prevail,

With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

The children in the village love cookies.  Please consider picking up a cookie recipe for your Christmas traditions to remember children’s rights every year.  Get your children and grandchildren or students involved – so that future generations will also recognize and respond to the eradication of offshore slavery of their peers of many nations.

Fresh Cranberries | For A Village

Try This Lovely Cranberry Crumble Recipe – Not For Dinner – but for Dessert! | Gimme Some Oven

Travel around Christmas-time isn’t easy for missionaries.

The holidays are the time of year – when everyone else travels.

For human-rights workers –  the budget rule is usually to hunker down where you are – be it abroad – or stateside,

-as the cost of plane tickets skyrockets, doubles-and-triples – and potential passengers from around the world compete for seats – on planes, trains, and auto-mobiles,

-rick-shaws,  bicycles, and cruise ships.

Cranberries are a special holiday flavor – in the midst of the hustle and bustle – because they are one of the special foods that the Algonquian people shared with the malnourished English settlers on the original day of Thanksgiving.

Try This Super-Easy Cranberry Baked Brie Tarts Recipe | Gimme Some Oven

Fresh cranberries are a crisp favorite seasonal pleasure for many – however, due to the vastly wet and cool growing conditions – which are best-suited for countries of the Northern Hemisphere, with the exception of a few high altitude mountainous regions beneath the global poverty line –

– fresh cranberries are not easy to cultivate in dry villages,which means, these little holiday berries have to travel, too. 

Fresh cranberries can be sauteéd down into sweet syrups, sauces, packaged in cans, powders, bottled juices, jams and food dehydrators,  and other processing, the same cranberryd flavor can be brought to the ends of the earth – in the same spirit as frankincense and mhyrr.

Try This 3-Ingredient Cranberry Bourbon Fizz (Sweet Holiday Version!) Recipe | Gimme Some Oven

During our first few village Christmas seasons, we could not afford gifts for the little children in the village – instead, they had beautiful traditions of dancing together on Christmas Day.

It wasn’t until about four seasons in that we were able to put up our first Christmas tree – made possible by the kindness of a donor.

Another year, we added in the tradition of holiday music – and added piano lessons until all of the children could play Jingle Bells.

Every year we challenge the village children to make paper projects, that have grown increasingly more beautiful as years have passed by.

Cranberries offer great nutrition for children, and help fight off and prevent UTI infections.  For children who are HIV+, any kind of healthy food that offers anti-bacterial benefits are a blessing.

(Picture Borrowed From Wikipedia) Before Child Labor Laws In Brooklyn – Children Were Hired To Work On Cranberry Farms – This Photo Is Credited To Arthur_Rothstein_(American,_1915-1985)._Child_Labor,_Cranberry_Bog,_1939 (Click Here For The Link)

Raw cranberries have a bitter taste, but when cooked with sugar form very nice syrups and flavor – another example of a popular bitter flavor being a lemon – or a lime – and add a special holiday flare to some of your favorite seasonal dishes.

Child laborers in the early years of America found work on cranberries in the 1930’s – and lived in similar conditions as many of the child laborers of today.  Child right’s activists know that good legislation helps to protect society in many different ways.

The idea of activism, and nonprofits for our free nation was actually an idea born of Harvard University – which was the first establishment of learning and higher education in the newly-developed America.  Harvard University was and is located near a cranberry bog –  which became a local source of identity and color that has served the university and the world with authentic crimson, defined as an ‘arterial red’.

Try This Cranberry Bliss Cookie Recipe | Gimme Some Oven

Activists from early Harvard, and around the world wrestled with the ideas of how to build a nation that respects human rights – and to encourage through education, legislation and rules to where the children of a society are entitled to schooling, free from labor, and to have rights to medical care, food, resources, safe labor – and housing – is something that we’ve struggled as a nation towards – but have not yet fully arrived.

Offshore slaves hope and wish for the day that many of those same amenities can be made available for them.  That’s why – around the holidays especially, it is important to incorporate giving into your holiday budget.

A Good Way To Remember Children’s Rights Around The World – Try This Cranberry-Orange Holiday Cheesecake Recipe | Gimme Some Oven

Help another child go to school.  Encourage another law for the protection of children in your own community be put into writing.  Sign another letter – supporting those who are out there fighting and working for human rights issues.  Hire somebody for a simple task that you don’t want to do to give them a bit of financial support or freedom.

As you enjoy your cranberries this Thanksgiving and Christmas season – let the appearance of this bright ‘arterial red’ fruit be a reminder to you of the blessings of indian cultures – and your visual cue to actively participate in the need for child rights – and human rights – and donations & gift-giving, all around the world.

It’s not necessary to travel to the ends of the earth during the holiday seasons in order to send a gift that matters:

World Vision Catalogue – Pick out a short-term project to sponsor for an international child this holiday season, or sign up for Christian sponsorship.

(World Vision’s holiday catalogue is not a joke – I’ve done a lot of work in small villages – and have seen the goats!  I’ve watched the village children learn to take care of them – they become like dogs or cats but love to eat the gardens!)

 Sponsor A Child Through Children International –  For $32 a month you can provide a child with life-changing benefits, like medical care, educational support, life skills and job training before graduation.  Children International is humanitarian sponsorship – as many of the children in need cannot be sponsored by religious organizations.  Children International began in the 1930’s with Christian Sponsorship, but adjusted their model over the years to make the same sponsorship benefits to children in poverty-stricken areas – of different religious identities.

(I have visited my own sponsored child abroad – many, many times through Children International and am always proud of their work.)

International Justice Mission – Support Justice & Sponsor the Rescue & Legal Defense of a Child From Modern-Day Slavery 

Check out this story, about a child-slave rescued by a Missouri Mom:

The Deep Place from International Justice Mission on Vimeo.

(I have visited a rescue center in another nation, and have so much respect for the legal work and advocacy that this group does to extend the rights of children to all nations.)

Mail In Your Donations Written Out To ‘Pinteresting Against Poverty’ – To ‘P.O. Box 26074, Overland Park, KS 66225’ – where we are collecting donations to give a local nonprofit that does good work in our village.  Donations are tax-deductible if you file your return in the USA. Please notify us electronically of any returned mail.)

Click Here To Support The Needs Of An Orphanage This Holiday Season:
Make a difference for an orphanage this #GivingTuesday. Sponsor a child or a project through Pinteresting Against Poverty.

Try This Beautiful Crimson Cranberry-Orange Holiday Cheesecake Recipe | Gimme Some Oven

I have worked in villages with or near each of these nonprofits – and am proud of the work they do.    Have you ever sponsored a child?  Have you visited your sponsored child?  Have you ever been on a mission trip?  Share your stories – or your questions with us, here: