I know. Its the middle of January, the coldest time of the year. And since making the decision to sign up, that lovely man from The Met has predicted snow for the south east (eek!). But when I heard that my former employer, World Vision UK, was organising a sponsored Give Up Your Coats day I immediately knew this would be a good thing for us to do as a family.
You see, I’ve been thinking a lot about those families in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Northern Iraq who’ve had to up sticks and move to a foreign country with all they could carry, sometimes not even that. Many of them have lost parents, wives, husbands. As we tucked into an obscene-sized turkey (carried on my back from the local farm?!) I wondered what it must be like to be in their position.
This is a small something we can do to support to some of the thousands of refugees whose lives have become intolerably hard. It’s practical, and administered by a professional aid agency whose credentials I can vouch for.
It’s also a fantastic chance for my children to do something to help others in a way that they will remember. Going to school without your coat is not exactly comfortable, but its also a bit ‘naughty’!
My 10 year old daughter immediately like the idea, my 8 year old boy is (I think) doing it because the rest of us are but isn’t sure about the whole thing, and my husband is up for it (just!) but surprisingly cautious about the possibility of us getting a cold! Maybe it’s something to do with him having to stand on a railway station platform…..understandable.
But experience has taught me that when we do something sacrificial for others, however small, it has a powerful impact, not just on the situation of those we’re trying help, but on our own hearts and attitudes. It is, for want of a less old-fashioned word, an act of solidarity.
By standing in someone else’s shoes for a short time (or rather, not wearing a coat), we get a tiny inkling of what it must be like for children like five year old Shaded and Ahed, Syrian refugee children living in Sa-Atari refugee camp in Jordan, where winters can be harsh (it’s not sunny there all the time!). Last winter they didn’t have coats and so couldn’t go out to play from their cramped living conditions in a caravan.
I want my kids to grow up being mindful of others, realising that life here is really very good compared to many places (not in every way, I know, but in many), and that there IS something we can do about the very sad things going on in our world.
Thankfully, my daughter gets this, without me having to explain it. She told me that one of her class mates who isn’t going to join her (she has convinced one friend who is up for the challenge thankfully) asked in a puzzled way “So, why are you doing this? Those kids in Jordan are suffering and going cold, and you don’t have to, so why bother?” The concept of going without for someone else was a completely alien concept to her.
It seems that what my daughter will be doing next week will do more than raise money….
Snow is predicted for this week and temperatures are plummeting (I’m getting a little nervous, I have to admit!). If it does snow, I’ll be sending them to school with a spare set of clothes so they can still get out there and enjoy a rare-as-hens-teeth event with their friends! Lets hope it doesn’t and they’ll just be a bit chilly at playtime. But take a look at what it can be like in refugee camps:
And let’s hope my husband doesn’t get another one of his colds…I’ll only have myself to blame! I’ll let you know how we get on….
We have set up a JustGiving page for anyone who’d like to sponsor us. We have a target of £280 which is 20 coats (at £14 each). Click here: https://www.justgiving.com/Siobhan-Calthrop/ THANK YOU!
For more info visit: http://www.worldvision.org.uk/coats or https://www.facebook.com/worldvisionuk