This Christmas

December 18, 2010

This Christmas, we at the MAK school family, rocked a cynicism blasting, injustice butt kicking, poverty fighting campaign by raising an incredible US$16,000+ to provide clean water for children in Cambodia.

It’s cliche and kind of untrue to say it’s not about the money. After all, it is with these very funds that water purification systems will be built. But I’ve learned how relative money is. A dollar means different things to a billionaire, to a middle class family, and to those living in extreme poverty. Rather, the significance is in the impact of each dollar, both in the the people from whom it was given and those who received.

I can’t speak for each student/staff/parent of the school community, but judging from the generous outpouring from beginning to end of this short campaign, they resonated deeply with the cause and believed in making a difference in our world. It is a delightful testimony of the character the community exhibited, that they would give so willingly to people who will likely never get a chance to say thank you.

For me, I can’t think of a word to capture my joy in this campaign, so I will steal Gabe Choi’s phrase which he repeatedly used when I was translating: “blown away”. (Note to Gabe, blown away – no equivalent in Chinese!) To be honest, I had fairly low expectations of this project. I’ve had some experiences with the workings of NGO’s so I know for a fact it is not an easy task to ask for donations in this economic climate. This is the first time the school has done a project targeted to help people off-island, so I pessimistically angst over the obstacle of not being able to show our families the actual location and people of the project. Our target goal (10,000) was higher than the amount ever raised before: another stretch of faith.

So these dollars are going to change the lives of thousands of kids living in extreme poverty, and I hope it has changed the hearts and ambitions of our kids. To me, it was a mind-blowing reminder of God’s faithfulness to us and the desires He has given us to bring hope for the poor. It was a sweet gentle call to faith in community, because it was together with so many people working in various ways that this project was accomplished. And above all, it was a display of His love, abundantly showered on myself and others involved, to share in His joy and delight through our compassion and generosity, and on the children in Cambodia, to whom He has brought light in the midst of their darkness this Christmas.

The temptation is there. The pull to despair about how many continue to suffer and die in poverty and injustice for every child we have helped. Our work is far from being done. But for now I revel in this mountaintop experience and simply say thanks to my good and loving God.