Yes – I know it’s still two months away, but we’ve had this discussion before, haven’t we?
THIS is when we start planning because the ability to plan ahead and act accordingly is one of the qualities that sets (some of) us apart from the more ordinary occupants of the animal kingdom.
Eh? What’s to plan?
Many things! The Christmas feast, the outfit for the day, travel upcountry, and the entire holiday season so that school fees are paid at the start of January instead of borrowed frantically at the start of February.
We talked about this last year but it was late in the year, so since this is much earlier we can do better, especially at Gifts.
First of all, Buy Ugandan – the advantages are obvious, but refer to our discussion around how it grows your own economy if you buy stuff made in Uganda rather than in China, Turkey or wherever. At the very least, allocate the larger percentage of your gifts to Ugandan-made ones, and a smaller one to imported gifts.
Then, look for the song, ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?‘, the 1984 Bob Geldof hit released by Band Aid to help raise funds for the famine that had hit Ethiopia that year and that branded the country as the home of famine, hunger and children wearing uncommon houseflies as jewellery.
It is not just a Christmas song to cut cake and pop drinks to.
If you play it carefully once a week while paying attention you should be moved to dedicate some of your goodwill to the underprivileged alongside the wife’s annual gomesi.
Start now and there can be no excuses; if you save Ushs30,000 off this weekend’s salary, and November and December, for instance, that’s about Ushs100,000 you can give to a cause that will really make some underprivileged people believe in God – and that’s how to get real blessings, I’ve heard the religious say.
Five people turning up at a Village Health Centre with Ushs100,000 each could change the lives of the entire village just by making the place more comfortable for the health workers to stay and work – a water dispenser here, a brightly painted wall there, ten boxes of disposable syringes, twenty boxes of disposable gloves.
Ten individuals with Ushs100,000 each can buy a hospital bed landed right there in the village, or a fridge for the health centre to store delicate medicines or blood. Or they can bulk pay the electricity bill for the whole year ahead of 2014.
It’s like the church tithing but while putting physical stuff on the ground that will directly change lives while you watch.
In fact, it’s also insurance of sorts, because if every year we give equipment to our local hospitals using a small percentage of our Christmas spending, then we’re ensuring that during that one week in the village we have better medical care around us hundreds of kilometres away from International Hospitals in Kampala and clinics with corporate cover files.
Ten well-to-do families from Kampala going back to Hoima, Kiruhura or Kamuli with a second-hand ambulance can rest assured that in the event of a party calamity their loved ones will be driven to Kampala on life support and in comfort rather than hunched up in the back of a Prado or on the end of a pick-up bed.
But start with the small gifts; a stack of reading materials for the local primary school could coax a dazzling amount of creativity and imagination out of some bare-footed village kids otherwise destined for an NGO poster on the internet.
A bench or two per Kampala family for the local UPE school, a computer clone for the wretched teacher who’s just been forced back from a strike, a couple of goats for the nearest women’s group to start some circle loan project…
I don’t know about you but I feel like an NGO even thinking about this; just like when I drive down to a village in a four wheel drive vehicle and step out of the air conditioning into the flurry of dust with those expectant faces about to burst into a welcome song.
Your song title is, ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?‘
The answer: they know because of the number of big vehicles and crisp Kampala people arriving to spend the week with them; now make them feel the season and remember it with something you consider small but for them is MASSIVE.