Monday, September 17, 2007

The Comfort of a Hug

September 17 is a special day at Children International. It’s the day we celebrate each year as “Special Hug Day”…and chances are you’ve received something in the mail about it.

Special Hug Day is probably one of the Children International initiatives people know the least about. But for the families of our sponsored children, it’s a big deal. Our sponsorship program unites a single sponsor with a single child, so most of what we do is necessarily child-centered; however, on Special Hug Day we do something special for the whole family. Because the children are so poor, they rarely if ever are able to give gifts to their parents and siblings, so this is the one day each year they can feel like they are directly responsible for something good coming to their families.

The gifts we give for Special Hug Day are practical items – so practical, in fact, that some might wonder why they’re so special. We might not find chairs, shelves, pans, dishes or other household supplies very exciting, but just last week I saw some things that put it all in perspective.

I just returned from Cartagena, Colombia, where we spent several days working in La Ciénaga de la Virgen (the Swamp of the Virgin), one of the poorest and most desolate areas of Cartagena. This is an area that routinely floods to depths of 3 or 4 feet during the rainy season…and the flimsy shacks the families of our sponsored children live in are demolished by the floods, leaving the families to start over from scratch each year.

Children swarmed around us, practically fighting over our empty plastic water bottles. I asked one little girl who very politely asked if she could have mine what she wanted it for. She told me she wanted it so she could take a drink to school.

In another community we met a sweet little girl named Veronica. Veronica’s dad was murdered a couple of years ago, and her mom was in the hospital when we met her. Her family has a single bed to sleep in and only one chair.

That’s why Special Hug Day is such a big deal.

By giving families items that provide a basic level of comfort, we increase their dignity and make their incredibly difficult lives just a little bit easier. So why not swing by Children International’s website and learn more about Special Hug Day and how you can send someone needy the comfort of a hug?

1 comment:

Dana said...

today is a good day! even though, as a sponsor, I don't get to experience the joy on the faces of the families that receive special hug gifts, i know how much they mean to them. Think about going camping for a weekend, and how nice it is to come home to your creature comforts we take for granted.. hot shower, comfy recliner, etc.. and now think of all those comforts these families dont have and likely will never have if it werent for CI.... i love this program! thank you CI and all the sponsors who donate to Special Hug Day....