For the person who has everything, a gift for those with a lot less
Pat Watters spread her Christmas spirit around the world this year. CHF Gifts That Matter has a list of items that can be bought in the name of a loved one, even camels, which are essential to the economic well-being of families in CHF's project area of B
Patricia (Pat) Watters did her Christmas shopping this year from the comfort of her home, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean in Bay Bulls.
"I bought chickens, three pairs of goats, a fish pond, a donkey, a milk cow and a garden, each to be distributed to a family in need wherever they may live," Watters says.
Watters made her purchases through the CHF Gifts That Matter project.
Established almost 50 years ago, CHF (once known as the Canadian Hunger Foundation) is a Canadian non-profit organization that helps poor rural communities, in developing countries, attain sustainable livelihoods.
While the gifts aren't ones you'll likely find under a Christmas tree, Watters says they are practical presents that make a difference to people's lives year-round, not just during "the giving season."
"Chickens can be raised for eggs and more chickens. Goats can be milked for cheese and are widely used in the Middle East for their milk products … A fish pond will allow a resource to be created for a small family or town that can use the pond for fishing and hence food," she says.
The donkey she bought will help a family transport their goods and firewood, she says.
"A cow can help deliver good nutrition directly to families with young children. And to have your own garden will provide a source of home grown vegetables some of which can be sold to generate more income for a family," Watters adds.
Watters also appreciates that CHF will mail a Gifts That Matter greeting card to the people Watters has purchased the special gifts on behalf of.
"Many of my friends and family have more than can even be imagined by those who live their lives on the edge of disaster," Watters says.
"By giving a gift in my friends' names, I can spread the idea about a different kind of Christmas gift that will deliver goodwill and practical assistance to those who need it most."
Originally from Annapolis, Maryland, Watters is a retired social worker who moved to Newfoundland about five years ago. She has been rescuing Newfoundland dogs for decades.
"I've had Newfoundland dogs for about 35 years. I didn't know where to go on vacation until a friend at work asked me, 'Have you ever been to where your Newfoundland dogs are from?'"
While she'd travelled throughout the country, Watters had not been to this province.
"I came here and I fell in love with the place. We had this house built here right on the water and we love it here," she says referring to herself and her big black furry friends Paddy and Danny Boy.
Watters recently graduated from Queen's College with a master's degree in theological studies.
While she is far from family and lifelong friends, she feels very much at home in Bay Bulls.
"In my last semester at Queen's I was diagnosed with colon cancer. I've been off chemo now for about a month but I'm still recovering from that and am not yet back up to speed. But I've been adopted here by the community and they take very good care of me."
Over the past 47 years, CHF has implemented over 800 projects in more than 40 countries in Africa, Asia and the Americas.
While its headquarters is in Ottawa, CHF has offices in Ethiopia, Vietnam, Guyana, South Africa, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Ghana.
Giving people food and clean water means CHF is helping people in thousands of communities become self-reliant.
"In the words of the old proverb, you can give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and he will eat forever," Watters says.
For more information on Gifts That Matter visit www.giftsthatmatter.ca. Tax-deductible charitable receipts are issued immediately by e-mail to those who donate online. Those who prefer to donate by phone can call CHF at 1-866-242-4243 ext. 227.
Some gifts that matter suggestions
• Seeds: $10 - Seeds feed a whole family of five in Vietnam for two months. Women and men farmers will receive training in specialized farmer field schools, where they learn about bed preparation, seed application, weeding, harvesting, fertilizer handling and application.
• Pair of Goats: $50 - In countries like Zimbabwe, goats can change lives, especially for families affected by HIV/AIDS. Goats produce rich milk for a family to drink, manure for vegetable gardens, and meat to sell.
• Fish Pond: $60 - Most of the poor and hungry families CHF works with live on two to three meals of rice and a few vegetables a day. They might eat meat once a month. Providing these families with fish ponds, baby fish, related equipment and training means that malnourished families will have a vital source of protein.
• Holiday Hamper: $185 - 12 gifts in one. Each Hamper includes two goats, eight chicks, one donkey and one pack of seeds. Donors can pay $185 all at once, or make monthly donations of $15.42 for 12 months.
- Source: CHF
Oxfam concert Unwrapped
In an effort to reach people outside the university campus, MUN Oxfam is holding its Christmas concert at George Street United Church this year.
"We've held lots of music related events in the past downtown and while they attracted a great crowd, the average age of the people who attend is around 21. That's great, but it also shows that there is a really large part of the population that might not be hearing about the issues," says third year Memorial student Erin Aylward.
In addition to her volunteer work with MUN Oxfam, Aylward also serves as Oxfam's regional youth liaison.
This year's concert, which takes place on Friday, Dec. 19, will feature performances by Duane Andrews and Pamela Morgan.
The event not only provides the audience with some great music, it's also a venue to promote Oxfam's humanitarian, development and advocacy work.
Of particular interest this year, Aylward says, is an initiative called Oxfam Unwrapped.
Oxfam's alternative gift catalogue encourages people to buy unique gifts for their family and friends while helping those who live in poverty.
Among the items people can buy are mosquito nets, household emergency kits, goats, emergency toilets and donkeys.
"People can buy lots of different gifts for people who already have enough ties and enough socks," Aylward says.
The project is unrelated to CHF's Gifts That Matter.
"When other organizations started beginning these different gifts of hope, it really made sense for Oxfam to engage in this as well as it was already work we were doing and this way we could get our message out to people who might not receive it otherwise," Aylward says.
MUN Oxfam concert that gets underway at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15. They will be available at the door or in advance at the Sprout on Duckworth and Pasta Plus in Churchill Square.
- Danette Dooley