I’m a bit of a bah-humbug when it comes to christmas cheer.
As soon as I see the twin towers of mince pies strategically placed to ambush me at the supermarket entrance and plastic santa-etched wine glasses on special offer I think, “oh baubles, what a waste of money.”
Image by Flowofwoe supplied under creative commons licence
Besides, until a few years ago I associated christmas with mulled wine, runny noses and bad pullovers. I still struggle a bit to find the fa-la-la-la-la spirit in the sub tropics when I’m trundling my trolley up and down supercharged air-conditioned aisles in flip-flops (thongs) buying salad for dinner again.
Paul and I more often than not spend Christmas away. Our wall-hangings haven’t seen a tacky bit of tinsel for years and I still have unopened packs of cards wasting in that drawer with no name after being lulled into the conveniently connected webbed-world for sending messages of christmas merriment and new year prosperity.
On behalf of both of us, I apologise profusely in advance to our friends and relations who still send us beautifully handwritten cards. In recognition of your time and effort, every year instead of sending cards, we make a donation to charity.
This year, we donated the money to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation (ILF) to buy books for children in remote communities in Australia.
It really is hard to get your head around how big Australia is until you travel through it and understand the challenges faced in some communities. Despite the fact that Australia is a rich country, only roughly a third of people in remote communities have access to a library and books.
As a child in the UK I took books for granted seen as though they were freely available to everyone through schools and libraries. “Can you imagine a world without books?” asks ILF founder Suzy Wilson.
In 2012 the ILF supplied 85,000 books in 230 remote communities. The foundation started from humble beginnings after Suzy – an independent bookshop owner – asked herself that question and set up what has grown into one of Australia’s great success stories in its own right, making a real difference to the lives of children in remote communities. A read of the ILF’s history and approach reveals why it works so well.
Relationships with communities have been built on respect, understanding and true consultation. More than half of Indigenous families living in very remote communities speak an Indigenous language in the home. (ABS, 2001) Therefore, some children need extra assistance to learn English as a second language. The foundation promotes both cultural and English literacy side-by-side.
The books are selected by an Indigenous literacy specialist in consultation with childrens’ book specialists and elders within the communities and the foundation has translated some books into local language.
But I think the icing on the Christmas cake is that some of the children have become writers and their stories have been published.
The Naked Boy and the Crocodile is a collection of thirteen stories written by children aged 5-10 years, living in remote communities across Australia.
Children tell tales of playing with friends, riding motorbikes, picking berries, hunting for emu eggs and wild pigs.
For christmas, why not give your child a window into this special part of Australia while giving a child in a remote community the gift of reading? $16.99 will buy the book and send two more books to children in remote communities.
If you are a relative or friend reading this and wondering what to buy us for christmas (not that we deserve anything) we would love it if you would donate the money to the foundation instead.
If you do it before 17th December and say it’s instead of buying a present for us they will send a christmas card to let us know. How ironic is that? Ho Ho Ho.