By now we have received a whole load of Christmas cards. And I usually just enjoy them, am grateful for people thinking of us, even though it would be nice to hear from some of them more often throughout the years as well. But this year I realized that two cards touched me more deeply than others. One came from a small local organisation called "Helping Sick Children" (Kranken Kindern Helfen) which runs a school for sick children in the children's hospital in Landshut. We are members in that organisation, although we haven't really done more than being paying members. Obviously the card was made by one of the children in that school.
The other card came from far away - the one letter I receive per year with stamps from Rwanda.
It was sent by Doctor Alfred Jahn, who used to be the Children's Hospital Director in Landshut and is now operating children in Rwanda who suffer from palatine cleft at birth, an organization I donated the money to when I tried my hands at hosting a knit-along several years ago. I have repeatedly donated smaller amounts of money to this organization, always grateful that my child was born healthy, and that we live in an area where universal healthcare and pretty good medical support is readily available. Through my Senegales friends I have learned close on what that means, when a sickness of a child (or an adult) that needs to be treated in hospital can be a life-threatening situation simply because the expenses cannot be paid, and yet treatment would be relatively easily possible. Somehow it all ties together. Recently I listened to an episode of the UNHCR podcast "Awake at night", where Chris Mburu tells about his life, and how it changed when a Swedish woman decided to support him through school in Kenia, although they had never met. This episode had me in tears - while driving to and from work - because it made me feel that my engagement for my Senegalese friends who have come here and were facing the terrible difficulties of German ways of dealing with illegal immigrants was a bit like that. I managed to have a bit of a positive impact on their lives, and there are still ways I can help. Which is wonderful. I received beautiful presents from my special protegee's relatives in Senegal when he went to visit in November, and it was wonderful to feel their gratefulness. Even if it made me a bit ashamed - it is relatively little money compared to what we have and spend. And it means all the difference in the world for them. So although I had to withdraw from my intensive involvement in refugee work to protect my own health, there are still ways I can, and do, and will continue to help. Which is a wonderful feeling.
Merry Christmas, everyone!