Each December, as the year draws to a close, I make a list of all the things I’m grateful to have happened over the last 12 months. It is a fine antidote to melancholy. Because no matter how the year has gone, there is always something to be thankful for.
The same goes for global events. Although the situation can often look grim, we can find stories of hope. Here are three encouraging stories from our work around the world this year:
No time to waste
In Pakistan, only half of the rubbish generated by people and industry is collected, posing a serious public health risk. The slum in Islamabad where grandparents Mumtaz and Beenish* live is a clear example.
‘The rubbish causes problems like coughs, fever and other diseases,’ says Mumtaz.
When their church decided to introduce a new recycling scheme proposed by Tearfund’s local partner, Mumtaz and Beenish were keen to get involved. ‘They needed people to collect the rubbish,’ says Mumtaz.
They agreed to take on a paid role, the income from which would help provide an education for their grandchildren. It has given the couple a new lease of life. ‘We are living a good life,’ says Mumtaz, who likes to sing psalms as he works, ‘and our environment is improving.’
Vedette*, from Rwanda, was caring for her five children, but wasn’t earning enough to provide for them. ‘Some of them were delayed going to school because of our lack of money,’ she says.
Her chance to change that came when her church offered a training course in tailoring, funded by one of Tearfund’s partners in the country.
Vedette is now making her own clothes, as well as taking commissions – providing a vital source of income. But her biggest source of pride is that she makes clothes for vulnerable people in her community. ‘I dress Jesus every day... every day!’ She declares with a smile. ‘Because now I always make clothes for the poor.’
The power of soap
Zargul* lives with her husband and children in Yoghin, rural Afghanistan. Every couple of days she would go down with diarrhoea and nausea. Nobody in the village could tell her what was wrong.
Some people said it was the jinn (evil spirits) that were making her so weak. But the problem was a lot more down to earth than that. Zargul works as a shepherd, and at the end of the day her hands would be caked in dirt and blood. However, culturally it was considered inappropriate to wash before eating.
When one of Tearfund’s Afghan partner organisations came to town to teach basic hygiene, her life was changed. ‘I [now] carry soap with me. I wash my hands three times: before eating, before cooking and after using the toilet,’ she says. Now, her family are strong and healthy.
Thank you for this year, and for the ways you have blessed us – both great and small. Help us to cultivate more gratitude in our lives. Thank you for Mumtaz and Beenish, Vedette and Zargul – and for all the vulnerable people whose lives have been changed this year. Please continue to fill their lives with your goodness, and let this goodness spread out like a flood of light amid the darkness.
*Names have been changed to protect identities.