Dear Friends and Family,
We wrote you all after Christmas last year with an idea that was inspired by the excessive piles of gifts that we gave and received. Just as inspiration always works, it seemed to be a constant in our conversations and thoughts immediately following Christmas, but since then, we find ourselves only periodically reminded of our extravagant lifestyle.
It is when we get a small glimpse of life elsewhere, Africa, Central America, China, India, parts of the United States, that we are reminded that we live in a culture that has too much. While some may call this a blessing, others would argue that our life of relative luxury pushes the poor of the world deeper into poverty. In his book, Deep Economy, Bill McKibben explains, “If the rich world began making less extreme demands on the planet, poor countries would have more physical margin to work with—a little slack. This is desirable, of course, because the poor world is too poor. If home is a hut and there’s no chair for anyone to sit on, that’s wrong. The planet should be able to produce enough chairs, enough basic education, enough refrigerators to keep vaccines cool…” Or as Sarah McLachlan sings, “The more we take the less we become. The fortune of one man means less for some.”
Our excessive piles mean less for someone thousands of miles away. It’s easy to think that it is not our fault, that we did not create this dichotomy, and that there is very little we can do to affect real change. It’s easy to think that the decisions we make each day have no impact on a 10 year old boy in Central America who drinks from a contaminated river or a young mother in Africa who watches her child starve to death.
This Christmas it is our hope that by changing our individual family’s lifestyle we can make a difference. It is our hope that our lifestyle will in turn affect our children’s lifestyles and maybe even others we encounter. It is our hope that eventually our excessive piles will, both literally and symbolically, be shared with others who at one time lived with far too little because we had far too much. We acknowledge that we may be utterly naïve, but still, these are our hopes.
With these hopes, we write again to ask if you will consider joining us this Christmas in an attempt to do something differently. Christmas is the holiday that has been warped to represent the epitome of our consumerist society—our society of too much. Nick travelled this summer with a group from our church to Nicaragua to help a village get clean water. The organization that our church partnered with, El Porvenir (the Future), organizes clean water projects all over Nicaragua. Nick found that the cost of digging a fresh-water well in a Nicaraguan village is only $2,200. That is it. $2,200 will provide water for a village for life.
Our plan: last Christmas we spent around $800 on Christmas gifts. This year, we are going to only spend $300. We’re going to give the other $500 to El Porvenir to contribute toward the building of another well. The money will go towards materials and the hiring of a local foreman. The villages eagerly provide their own labor.
Will you join us? As a group, if we each cut our spending this Christmas, even just a little, and give the difference to a clean water project, we might be able to fund a well, or even a few wells. There’s something about this that may seem small; it’s only one or two wells in one or two little villages in Nicaragua. But for the family who doesn’t lose a child next year to a waterborne disease, it’s nowhere near small.
If you have questions about El Porvenir, you can check them out at www.elporvenir.org. Let us know if you are interested in joining us - email@example.com.
Expecting to change the world,
Nick, Morgan, Carson, and Bracken