There’s a well-known saying in England that gets a good airing at this time of year. You’ll hear it when a Granny opens a hand made gift by her grandchild, covered in glitter, a bit wonky and shrieking bright colours. Or when a teenager offers voluntarily to put up the Christmas cards or make the guest bed up (yes, miracles do happen):
“It’s the little things that count”
It’s a phrase about generosity of heart; the giver giving what they have, even if its not a lot in the world’s eyes.
This is exactly what I ‘saw’ when I watched this video that World Vision UK filmed in one of the refugee reception camps in Serbia this autumn. Thousands arrive at these camps every week, coming not just from Syria but also North Africa and Afghanistan. The man singing is one of many students from Czech Republic who are choosing to spend their weekends volunteering in the camps. Embarrassed by their government’s hardline stance against receiving the mainly (but not exclusively) Syrian refugees, they organise trips across the border, sharing cars, to come and give whatever help they can. Being students, they have guitars. Watch what happens when one of them got his out:
Look at the smiles on those kids faces. Even the adults occasionally. It didn’t cost him much, except his time. But as the guy who filmed this quipped, “That probably brought as much joy than all the tents, heaters and warm clothing we’re providing.” He was truly humbled at the sacrifice that those Czech students were making.
And it’s the same with us. We love it when our kids do something small that shows thoughtfulness, selflessness or generosity. Surely the same can be said when we do something small for others?
It’s the little things that count.
In these camps where night time temperatures can drop as low as -9°C, the little things come in the form of woolly hats and gloves, and heaters that are placed in giant communal ‘tents’. As there aren’t enough to go round, the weak, the old and the very young are given priority to sleep in these ‘tents’. The rest have to somehow sleep in the cold. I have no idea how. Hypothermia, pneumonia and contagious diseases are the main threats.
But by buying donating to a charity that making a real difference on the ground we can make that difference. World Vision has a range of affordable gifts from their Must Have Gift or you can donate directly. There are so many wonderful charities doing fantastic work in Serbia, Greece, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. Aside from the usual big ones, the smaller ones like Embrace the Middle East and Open Doors do amazing work with local partners. Embrace the Middle East has a gift catalogue full of gifts for others made by their partners such as olive wood and olive oil products, as well as ‘gifts’ of clothing for refugees, like World Vision’s Must Have Gifts. And Open Doors, the Christian persecution charity, has a Christmas Angels appeal, that this year is supporting Syrian refugees.
Or you can support refugees by donating to charities who are campaigning for safer places to live for refugees this winter like Avaaz.
Small kindnesses make a big difference. Lets make that difference now this Christmas.
For more about this terrible crisis, read my first post in this series, Salah’s Story: Christmas Far From Home