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Caritas Austria: Solidarity Christmas with the online shop. Gifts for the poor of the world.

It’s an invitation to "become the brothers or sisters” of all those who are victims of hunger, forced migration, lack of education in all corners of the planet. With a click we can offer a sleeping bag to a homeless person in Europe, a goat to Syrian refugees, a year in school for an African child. There is no limit to imagination

Blankets, food parcels, or even a goat or a donkey. You can be original as well as useful with Christmas gifts. It is the proposal of Caritas Austria. The purpose of the online store www.schenkenmitsinn.at is to “open the hearts and minds”, making it “the most wonderful Christmas for all.” We are invited to “become agents of justice with a gift that will respect the significance of the birth of Jesus providing shared joy.” “Gifts that meet needs” provide “a concrete response” to those in dire straits.

Solidarity from Burundi to Ethiopia. The online-store Caritas Austria (very active both at national and international level) provides, for example, the opportunity to buy a donkey for women in Ethiopia, a sleeping bag to a homeless or an aid package for Syrian children in refugee camps. It is also possible to establish communication with people or communities whom the gift is addressed to with an annexed Christmas card that will be delivered along with the gift. The latter can also be sent on behalf of friends or relatives, to whom can given a t-shirt with a cheerful image of the gift itself. With 50 euro, and the reality of a grunt, you can give a pig to a family in need in Burundi, the poorest country in the world with 43% of the inhabitants on the threshold of starvation.

Hunger is a direct consequence of war, of the ruthless exploitation of land, of high-population density.

A pig provides an entire family enough to eat, and it produces surpluses for the village. With 45 euro – the value of a donkey – hands are extended to women from the community of Meja Lalu (Ethiopia), enabling them to collect enough timber and water to meet the needs of their families, while the animal can be used for work in the fields or in the village, thereby reducing fatigue which is usually borne by the female part of the population, as well as transport.

Hands extended to Syrian child refugees. Thirty euro are sufficient to provide a month of food and assistance to Syrian children, Caritas makes known on its website: “Ensuring a month for food, medical care, drinking water and hygiene items for children” forced to live in refugee camps for Syrians in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, where Caritas Austria has implemented numerous projects, “becomes urgent with the onset of winter that worsens the living conditions” of hundreds of thousands of children orphaned by the war. It is equally possible to donate a goat, which with others will create flocks critical to the livelihood of the refugees.

Towards the “peripheries” of the world. Korogocho is the third largest slum in Nairobi. The life of approximately 150 thousand depends on garbage-collection and occasional jobs as farm workers or whatever job is available along the streets of Kenya.

The situation of the camp resembles that of all the “existential peripheries” and the “throwaway” sites mentioned by Pope Francis:

open sewers, violence, despair, lack of future. Thanks to the “Lernbox” school project, 25 Euros will enable a child to attend for a year one of the schools run by the many missionary orders operating in Korogocho, where the children will have the possibility of studying, with schoolbooks and notebooks and a hot meal, preparing them for a better future.

Orchard in Senegal, warm meals in Ukraine. An orchard with ten fruit-trees costs 25 euro, providing an income to families in Senegal and contributing to environmental protection. Poor families will have the opportunity of receiving ten fruit trees such as mango, cashew, moringa and neem: the trees help to “bind” the water in the soil, provide shade for the cultivation of vegetables and contribute with their fruits and leaves to improved nutrition of families. The surplus is sold in local markets offering the possibility of additional income. The website – with the guarantee that Caritas will be directly responsible for these micro-projects – makes it possible to donate also ten hens and a rooster, or hot meals for a month to a child hosted by orphanages in Ukraine. Opportunities abound: the invitation is to make a generous visit to the online store.

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