Christingle in Bolivia: 'An example of true generosity'
My daughter Gwen Quinteros and her husband Marcos are mission workers who live in the middle of a very poor neighbourhood in Bolivia. In 2007 they set up a community centre in Sumumpaya and offer many facilities and activities, including pre-school education, a gymnasium, a women's group and after-school clubs.
As part of their activities last Christmas, Gwen – who grew up in Scotland – organised five afternoon workshops for children. My wife and I were visiting at the time and helped to run these sessions, one of which involved making a Christingle. With some guidance, the children made 33 Christingles, which would later find their way into their Christmas Eve celebration service, open to the whole neighbourhood.
As they made the Christingles, Gwen emphasised to these youngsters – all from very poor homes – that they were actually better off than many of the world’s children. She told them: 'There are children who are in greater need than you here in Sumumpaya'. That was a startling fact that (not surprisingly) had never occurred to them before.
The children’s response was dramatic. Not only did a discussion follow about the possibility that there were actually children worse off than they, but they decided to make donations to help these young people. Each young person donated between one and three Bolivianos (which converts approximately 10p) and other community members donated as well.
Convinced of the need to give from their small reserves towards others who are worse off, their contribution came, together with a little from the Bolivian adult helpers. It might seem small by comparison to more wealthy UK churches, but the £16.12 they raised represented an example of true generosity.
This year, the children will hold another Christingle to support The Children’s Society, although Gwen will use local produce and materials to create the Christingles, while still singing the 'Hope of Heaven' song as last year.
Please enjoy these photographs from the children's Christingle last year.
Children making Christingles
A child checking the Christmas tree
Students celebrate Christingle.