Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘Christmas’

Something Dangerous

51YshZA25gLA Risky Christmas Affair by Nina Romano.
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans.

Serena is married to Walter. They have a jewelry store in Rome. They’ve traveled the world. Their marriage is complicated. A previous loss effects them deeply. Walter wants Serena to take one more trip (a flight alone, to London, to make a deal), before they spend more time together, or she goes back to school. She doesn’t want to go.

One of the treats about A Risky Christmas Affair is its solid sense of place. “For centuries, the castle had been a place of refuge for Popes, and the sight of the fortress gave her the strength she needed to rid herself os something dangerous. When she had the miscarriage, she had stayed at Our Lady of Angels Hospital, which overlooked this same castle.”

A lot happens in this story in a short time. There is mistrust, resignation, attempted robbery, an unwanted gun, expectations, a car wreck, meeting a member of parliament,  remorse, and jealousy. Ms. Romano is an excellent storyteller, and it shines through with this tale. Though it is fiction, it felt like A Risky Christmas Affair could be true.

Emily Meets Emma

51TBGBOEH2LThe Gift by Casi McLean. Reviewed by Gabriel Constans.

Savannah (Savy) and Ryan are very much in love, and planning on taking the next step, when Savy panics and takes off in her car during a snowstorm near Atlanta on Christmas Eve. When her car gets stuck in a ditch, she makes her way to a cabin off the road and meets an older woman (Emma) who lets her stay the night.

The Gift, by Ms. McLean, is a novelette that takes a sweet romance, with expected outcomes, to a different realm, and makes readers’ think twice about the choices we make. What would happen if we chose differently, or took a right turn, instead of going left? If our life is a matter of many moments, and decisions, how do we decide?

The author writes, “Collapsing on her bed, she stared at the ceiling. Had her entire Christmas Eve been a dream or some psychotic hallucination? Maybe the exhaust fumes had seeped to her brain. Oddly though, whatever happened to Savy in the last twelve hours had changed her perspective. Flashing on Emma, Savannah bolted up with a jolt.”

Casi McLean has written a contained, and thought-provoking, long short story that makes one ponder. The Gift reflects on relationships, family, career, living alone, and discovering what one believes are the most important things in life. There are no set answers, but every choice has consequences. Choose wisely.

Soft Spoiled Brats

The City Kittens by Mrs. D. Illustrated by Eladziem.
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans.

61-tNH71BrL._SX260_The City Kittens is a children’s story about city cats brought to a country cats home at Christmas time. The illustrations are beautiful, colorful, and almost 3D like. The font-type is also lovely to look at and read. This tale about Mrs. D’s older cat, Nyda, includes themes of home, family, acceptance, and not judging a book (in this case kittens) by there cover (or fur). Past history and experience isn’t always as it seems.

Nyda has the following thoughts when Mrs. D’s older daughter brings some kittens (Mickey and Jack) to visit for the first time. “Spoiled inside city house cats… soft little things,” she grumbled as she passed by, walking to the kitchen to spend time with Mrs. D and the girls. But the story the old cat heard that evening made her feel bad. The kittens were not soft or spoiled brats as she had thought.”

There are also times that Nyda remembers her older cat friend, Nicky, who has since passed away, and how she treated her when she first arrived at Mrs. Ds. There is also some hissing, acting out for food with Grandma, and entertainment (watching the adults interact) in The City Kittens. Each page is almost complete unto itself, and the story overall is a pleasure to read.

CARE For All

Dear Gabriel,

CARE_EOY_HolidayThere’s a magical feeling to the end of each year, regardless of how it is celebrated. Here at CARE, with staff in 84 countries, there are many celebrations taking place at this time of year.

I am sure I will be hearing about some of my colleagues enjoying doro wat (spicy chicken stew) and injera bread Christmas feasts in Ethiopia, or Christmas Eve gatherings with cinnamon and clove spiced hot chocolate, in addition to peneton – a special kind of fruit cake – in Peru. In Nepal, the Diwali celebration has already brought together Hindus, Jains, and Sikhs, who string their streets and homes with lights and oil lamps, their beautiful Festival of Lights brightening the dark winter.

These celebrations share a common spirit – one of peace, hope, and unity. It’s a message that reminds me why so many of us dedicate ourselves to this work, whether as full time staff, financial supporters, or volunteers.

As you make your plans to celebrate the holidays, I hope you think of yourself as part of a worldwide CARE family. If you can, take a moment from the hectic holiday preparations to reflect on the lives touched by the generosity of CARE’s donors.

It is because of the support of our donors that thousands of Ethiopians have clean water and nutritious food for their holiday feast; that women in rural Peru can afford to get their small businesses off the ground; that farmers in Nepal learned to grow stronger, better crops.

No matter what you celebrate, or which traditions you follow, happy holidays from the CARE family to yours.

Sincerely,

Helene D. Gayle, MD, MPH
President and CEO, CARE

Christmas In Rwanda

Dear Family and Friends,

First of all I hope each of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your loved ones and that you enjoyed stuffing your faces with all the delicious Turkey Day foods I miss more than I could possibly describe to you.

I’m writing to you because I want to ask you for your help. All of you know the work that I’m doing here in Rwanda with these orphans and former street children, and although we’re always struggling for funding I try not to take advantage of my relationships with you by asking for donations or making you feel pressured to contribute to our program throughout the year.

That being said this time I am asking for your help. We really need any and all help we can get to give our 100 boys a Christmas celebration this year. In the past we have been able to get local businesses and donors to sponsor our Christmas celebration, allowing us to provide a special meal and a small paper sack full of simple gifts like a couple pairs of underwear, some pens and notebooks for school, a tennis ball, some sweets and a few other items. As many of you have seen from photos of past Christmas celebrations that this is the boys’ favorite day of the year.

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However, this year we have struggled to find any partners or sponsors for Christmas. Starting this year the Rwandan government began a program called Agaciro. Publicly billed as voluntary, Agaciro is a nationwide program virtually requiring all businesses and individuals to donate money to the government that they say will be used for the development of the country. Often employees, whether street sweepers or doctors, are told to donate one month’s salary to this fund and businesses and organizations (like ROP) are pressured to also make large payments or face the possibility of being blacklisted and being unable to get services from the government. Basically it’s a unofficial tax in a country that already has a tax rate of 30%.

So what does this have to do with ROP? Well, because organizations and individuals are having to make these “donations” to the Rwandan government they have no money left to give to the orphanages and other charities like ours who need their support. In November we sent out dozens of letters to local businesses asking for Christmas donations and so far the response has been extremely disappointing. Jenny and I are becoming very concerned that we won’t be able to give our boys a nice Christmas.

That is why I’ve written you this letter. I know the economy is still shaky and the holiday season stretches everyone a bit thin, but I’m asking that you please consider helping us out this year, even if in a small way. If we can collect enough donations of any size in the next couple of weeks we will have just enough time to organize a Christmas Day dinner for them, buy them some small gifts and put together their little gift bags in time for the big day. If you can donate $10, $20, $50 or even more it will go a long way towards giving these wonderful kids a celebration they deserve. If you would like to help the easiest way is for you to visit our website, www.rwandanorphansproject.com. The method most likely to get the money to us before Christmas is to donate via Paypal, but you can also send us a check to the address listed on the same page. We are looking to raise only about $700 for dinner, a drink and some small gifts. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me.

Finally, thank you all for the support you give both to me and our program. So many of you make contributions to ROP and I can’t begin to express how valuable each and every one is to us.

Happy holidays and merry Christmas to all of you!

Sean
ROP Center for Street Children
Kigali, Rwanda

Rwandan Holiday

From ROP Stories
Rwandan Orphans Project
Center For Street Children

by Sean
16 January 2012

A Christmas to remember at the ROP

Just as in the U.S. and Europe Christmas is a huge holiday in Rwanda. It’s a time for families and friends to come together and enjoy each other’s company, eat a lot of food and perhaps exchange gifts. It’s no different at the Rwandan Orphans Project. In recent years Christmas has been celebrated at the ROP Center by sharing a meal on Christmas day, usually followed by some performances of song and dance from our boys. This year, however, we wanted to give them the best Christmas they’ve yet had. We received some very generous Christmas donations from various people that helped us with this idea. We expected this to be a Christmas to remember at the ROP.

Christmas Eve was a day for celebrating with the staff, children and visitors. Jenny started off the day by having the boys make decorations for the Center. Some of them stuck to the design while others just stuck pieces anywhere and everywhere.

After the tree was well adorned we decided to give the boys an early Christmas present. We had many “new” clothes that had been donated by various visitors during the previous few months and we had been saving them for this day. As is the tradition we laid all of the clothing on the floor of the dining hall so all the boys could see what they had to choose from. As you can imagine each boy eyes the item he wants and hopes that nobody else chooses that item before their turn comes.

Of course we have to make sure that they fit before they take them. Often the younger, smaller boys choose clothes that are much too big for them simply because they like their design. This leads to the occasional round of tears when a small child is told he cannot have a sweatshirt that is meant to fit an adult.

After all the boys had chosen their clothes we had a treat for them. Elisabeth, the ROP’s staff psychologist, is good friends with a very well known Rwandan artist called Ben Gangi. She asked him to come and perform for our boys as a Christmas treat and he accepted. From the moment he started singing the boys were dancing all over the dining hall and singing along at the top of their lungs.

Read entire story and see all the photos at ROP Stories.

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