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Thursday December 18, 2008

Wrapping up Christmas

All being well, in a couple of days time my husband, son and I will be in Colombo, Sri Lanka, to share some Christmas spirit with 70 orphaned girls from 3 to 17 years old in a small orphanage on the perimeter of the city. What’s that got to do with sunny Spain you may ask? Nothing at all. Well, actually it has in a way. Before embarking on this trip-we’ve been to the orphanage before-I mentioned to some Mallorcan locals what we would be doing this Christmas and word spread in our little town. Suddenly people I hardly knew were bringing small parcels of girls’ clothes up to the house or purchasing toys, pencils and knick-knacks for us to take.

Here in rural Mallorca donating to charity is a fairly strange concept. Most of our Mallorcan friends believe that charity really should begin at home and they are sceptical about donating funds to an organisation they know nothing about. Every time some scandal emerges about misappropriation of charity funds, they shrug their shoulders in a ‘told you so’ sort of way. They do have a point. There are many admirable charities out there, but some are dubious and as we know, some funds especially for emergency appeals internationally, never reach their intended target. What Mallorcans will do, is give generously if they know the source. In our case we asked for nothing and yet locals contributed freely because they trusted us. I feel a weight of responsibility but am delighted to have garnered such support. It is deeply touching to have earned respect from the local community and it makes us feel more than ever that we have been accepted here in Sóller. Foreigners forever we may be, but we’re honorary Sollerics, all the same.

Rushing to finish a deadline for my next book, completing some client work and trying to wrap up things here in Sóller before departing overseas, meant that I had left buying Christmas gifts to the last minute. I bustled into Sóller to purchase presents at the various gift emporiums and nothing was too much trouble. Every gift whether it was a child’s rubber ball, priced at 50 centimos, through to more expensive gifts were beautifully wrapped. Everyone knew we were off to Sri Lanka and the encouragement and kindness I received in each shop was overwhelming. It summed up what Christmas spirit should be all about. We shared hugs and greetings of Molt d’anys and Bon Nadal and I arrived home with all my splendidly wrapped presents without stress or panic that I needed to have a wrapping session before departure.

We will miss out on the turkey and the crackers this Christmas but it won’t matter. Instead, we will experience a different sort of Christmas and I am excited about seeing the reactions of the children when we deliver our cases of goods and clothes. The money I have raised from marathons and talks will enable the three nuns running the orphanage to keep the girls well fed for another six months. They rely entirely on donations so any little help goes a long way. It’s wonderful to think that a little bit of rural Mallorca will find its place in the hearts of some young girls in a small corner of Sri Lanka. International relations at its best!

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