As we approach the festive season, I'm sure that food is at the forefront of many of our minds. From turkey and stuffing to mince pies, chocolate and brussel sprouts, Christmas has become synonymous with indulgence and excess. At Share the Light, food is also a central theme for us at this time of year, as the Porridge Club becomes the key focus of our fundraising efforts.
Mrs Mweete's Porridge Club at Luyobolola Community Primary School has been a ubiquitous part of Share the Light from its inception, and our efforts now also extend to the Sisters of Mercy Nutrition Programme in Mazabuka, Zambia.
Over 700 children attend Luyobolola School every day, many of whom come from families who are unable to provide them with more than one meal a day, or who can only afford to feed one of their children per day, leaving the others to go hungry. For many of us, this is a reality that is so far removed from our own, particularly as we stock our cupboards with treats in preparation for Christmas. A lack of nutritious food obviously has a knock-on effect on children's ability to learn and play – in short, to be children. In response to this, head teacher Mrs Mweete set up a Porridge Club to provide students with a nutritious bowl of porridge to start the day. While a seemingly small gesture, this ensures that students receive vital nutrients, improves attendance at school and increases children’s ability to concentrate and learn, meaning they are able to get the most from their education. Feeding a child for a whole year costs just £10, a small amount of money, but of huge importance to these young people’s wellbeing. The Porridge Club is solely funded by Share the Light, so without our support, it simply cannot operate. The image of children running to get their breakfast is one that sticks with many of our advocates, long after they return home.
The Sisters of Mercy Nutrition Programme operates in the wider community. Issues such as long-term illness and a lack of jobs leave many people unable to earn a living to support themselves and their families. The Sisters of Mercy aim to identify those in need to provide basic food items, clothing, blankets and other essentials. This offers a safety net to the most vulnerable people in the community.
At Share the Light, our fundraising for the Porridge Club is intertwined with the festive season – you’ll find us carol singing and seeking donations for Christmas puddings and an array of other festive items at the Salesian College Farnborough Christmas Market and out in our local parishes, spreading festive cheer and raising money for the Porridge Club. Our biggest initiative is this year’s must-have gift voucher – a Joy Voucher. While a high street gift card is a great present, we think that our Joy Vouchers are even better. For just £10, you can give the gift of a hot meal every day for the next year. We think it really embodies the spirit of Christmas, and gives a warm glow that will last throughout the year, long after the turkey is finished and the Christmas cake is gone.
If you would like to Share a little Light this Christmas, and give a child the gift of a hot meal for a whole year, please click here to visit our BT MyDonate page.
From everyone at Share the Light, we wish you a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year.
Share the Light
See, the days are coming – it is the Lord who speaks – when I am going to fulfil the promise I made to the House of Israel and the House of Judah:
'In those days and at that time,
I will make a virtuous Branch grow for David,
who shall practise honesty and integrity in the land.
In those days Judah shall be saved
and Israel shall dwell in confidence.
And this is the name the city will be called:
This Christmas, Lord, come to the manger of my heart.
Fill me with Your presence from the very start.
As I prepare for the holidays and gifts to be given,
Remind me of the gift You gave when You sent Your Son from Heaven.
The first Christmas gift, it was the greatest gift ever.
You came as a baby born in a manger.
Wrapped like the gifts I find under my tree,
Waiting to be opened, to reveal Your love to me.
Restore to me the wonder that came with Jesus' birth,
when He left the riches of Heaven and wrapped Himself in rags of earth.
Immanuel, God with us, Your presence came that night.
And angels announced, "Into your darkness, God brings His Light."
"Do not be afraid," they said, to shepherds in the field.
Speak to my heart today, Lord, and help me to yield.
Make me like those shepherd boys, obedient to Your call.
Setting distractions and worries aside, to You I surrender them all.
Surround me with Your presence, Lord, I long to hear Your voice.
Clear my mind of countless concerns and all the holiday noise.
Slow me down this Christmas, let me not be in a rush.
In the midst of parties and planning, I want to feel Your hush.
This Christmas, Jesus, come to the manger of my heart.
Invade my soul like Bethlehem, bringing peace to every part.
Dwell within and around me, as I unwrap Your presence each day.
Keep me close to You, Lord. It's in Your wonderful Name I pray.