Stories of a new world: AVSI launches the Christmas Campaign

Christmas 2013 260X190“Charity is not simply social assistance and not in the least social assistance to reassure consciences. No, that is not love, that is business. Love is free. Charity, love is life choice, it is a way of being, a way of life, it is a path of humility and of solidarity. There is no other way for this love: to be humble and in solidarity with others. This word solidarity in this culture of waste — what is not used is discarded – runs the risk of being deleted from the dictionary because it is a word that bothers us, it bothers us. Why? Because it requires you to look at another and give yourself to another with love. It is better to delete it from the dictionary because it bothers us. And as for us no, let us say: this is the way, humility and solidarity.” (Pope Francis, Cagliari, Sardinia - September 22, 2013)

Organized for the first time in 1990, the campaign was started by close friends of AVSI’s very first volunteers as a way to share AVSI’s work with the world and to help raise the funds necessary to keep that work alive.

Even before 1990, however, the first campaign could be said to have its origins in a small supermarket parking lot near Milan, Italy. There, at the end of the 1950’s, high school students working with the poorest of the poor in the outskirts of Milan, set up a small table to help raise local awareness about the needs of the city’s most destitute. The youth regularly went with Fr. Giussani to “Bassa”, as the area was known, with the simple desire of remaining with the families they met and freely accompanying them in friendship. They did not pretend to have ready-made solutions for the suffering they encountered, nor did they come with some philanthropic goal in mind. Instead, through their simple gesture of accompaniment, they were educated, along with those they met, to the law of life, that is, charity, which needs no justification and which is contrary to any selfish or worldly goal.

Since 1990, the Christmas Campaign has been organized annually and still focuses on helping raise both money and awareness for AVSI’s work with the world’s most vulnerable people. Each year the campaign changes its theme in order to communicate something more about the reasons for AVSI’s work. Each year the projects highlighted also change to channel support to those projects and partners in the greatest need.

This year’s campaign, with the theme, “Stories of a new world: AVSI projects that embrace, educate and generate livelihoods” includes a number of projects that one can support through a charitable contribution to AVSI-USA:

 

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Mexico: Opportunity's Crecemos Program

 

Crecemos is a community organization that runs activities in five centers in poor neighborhoods around the city of Oaxaca in central Mexico. After-school programs including remedial lessons, recreation, arts and sports provide crucial support to children along their personal and educational paths.

 

 

 
 

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Syrian refugees

 

The very serious crisis in Syria continues with a massive exodus of people. Some 1.6 million fled the country and are now in Lebanon and Jordan, where AVSI supports over 13.000 people in refugee camps, and where needs are enormous. The project also provides support to H.E. Antoine Audo, Chaldean bishop of the Diocese of Aleppo and President of Caritas Syria as well as to the Custody of the Holy Land present in Syria.

 

 

 
 

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Philippines: Victims of Typhoon Haiyan

 

Disaster relief continues in the Philippines, where the country is finally beginning to get back on its feet and starting to reubuild. AVSI, in collaboration with Sister Margherita and the Dominican Sisters of Blessed Imelda at their school in Calabanga, continue to help more than 800 students and their families. They have received new clothes, canned goods including corn, meat and sardines, and boxes of rice, pasta and soap.

 

 

 

 

As all of us know, the Christmas Campaign comes at a time of great difficulty globally. Now more than ever, we can see that no matter how large the contribution, nothing will ever entirely eradicate the poverty or unemployment that the world faces. Making matters more complicated, many of us find ourselves in similarly difficult situations. Given these extreme circumstances, one may ask, what is the point of all our efforts?    

With this question in mind, the theme and projects we have chosen this year focus on individuals who have given their lives to an ideal that is bearing fruit in the world and making it more human, even amidst the tremendous difficulties that all of us face. As they confront social problems like poverty, education, and displacement, not only are solutions discovered, but their experience grows and can be broadened, shared, adapted, and reproduced in neighboring communities and in other parts of the world. This is the way a new world is born. It is the fruit of a human person and their experience, not simply rules, models or institutions.

The desire that these people have to make the world a more human place has generated experiences and projects in places like Mexico, Syria and the Philippines that speak not only of love for the person, but also for the One who created them.

To support AVSI’s appeal, tax deductible donations can be made by check to AVSI-USA, 529 14th St., NW, Suite 994, Washington, DC 20045. You can also donate through PayPal. Be sure to specify the country or project you wish to support when making your donation.