Take a deep breath. Any minute now your local shops will be full of Christmas trees and tinsel. The sound of piped carols will fill the air. It’s easy to get caught up in the rush and bustle of Christmas.
But, as we all know, Christmas is about the birth of Christ in a stable – and the transformation that brings to our lives.
So, it’s an ideal time of year to use our spending power to transform the lives of others. Rather than letting this be the season of avarice and greed, we can still make it the season of goodwill to others. Thanks to Tearfund’s fair-trade catalogue Tearcraft, and the new Tearfund Living Gifts alternative gift scheme, this is easier than ever before.
With Tearcraft there is always something for everyone, from silver cufflinks (£20), to a mirrored mosaic fruit bowl (£19), a football (£15) and beautiful wooden toys for children.
Buying your Christmas shopping from Tearcraft isn’t about charity, it’s about providing work that offers real dignity, uses people’s skills, and gives them a decent wage.
Tearcraft ensures that its artisans get a fair price for their skill and effort, typically making half the payment in advance, to allow the purchase of raw materials. This means that the artisans can fund their work in progress without resorting to local money-lenders.
Alfredo and Isabella Sacsa live in Lima, Peru, and have created beautiful wooden crafts for Tearcraft. Working through Tearcraft’s partner, Manos Amigas, has transformed their lives, Alfredo says.
“My business started out very small, just my wife and I in our home. But it has grown a lot and now we employ five people who work alongside us.
“With the extra money we receive we have improved our home and workshop. Before, our children used to go to a poor school, but now we are able to pay for a better education for them. Things are different now,” he says.
And for the person who has everything, you can also send gifts to friends and family through Tearfund’s new Living Gifts initiative, a twist on the alternative gifts idea: you buy your friend or relative a voucher – they get to choose in which areas of work and regions of the world to use it. For example, spending £9 would pay for a watering can for a vegetable garden in the developing world, while £25 would pay for an orphan’s school fees for a whole year.
Living Gifts is a voucher scheme that lets you choose the card your friend or relative receives and the amount you want to spend, but it leaves the decision up to them. The person who receives your gift gets to choose how and where your money is used. Eight areas of Tearfund’s work in tackling poverty have been specially selected for Living Gifts, and your donation will go towards work in that area, whether it is food security in Burkina Faso, or water and sanitation in Brazil.
Sir Cliff Richard, Tearfund Vice President, says: “Here is a novel and sensible way to give a gift to a friend or family member, and at the same time express our love and concern for someone in the developing world. A Tearfund Living Gift voucher really could result in changing someone’s life for the better …”
• For more information visit: www.tearcraft.org/inspire and www.livinggifts.org.uk/inspire, or call: 0845 355 8355.
£9 - Enough seeds to feed a family for a whole year
£17 - Enough to keep 100 children fed for a day at school
£25 - A sheep: allowing a family to start a small business
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