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

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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.

Author: Ada Nicole

A human rights worker in developing nations.

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