The Christmas season is magical for many reasons: lights shining in the dark, cold evenings; enjoying food with friends and family; a time to reflect on the year gone by and look ahead to the next. But one aspect shines brighter than the rest: giving.
It’s thought that the origins of giving at Christmas lie in the Biblical story of the presents given to the new-born baby Jesus by the Three Wise Men: Frankincense, Gold and Myrrh. Nowadays, many of us buy gifts for loved ones and exchange them around Christmas.
But it is also about charity. About considering those less fortunate than ourselves and offering what we can to help, whether it be time, money or goods.
Earlier in December, ODARA’s Aysha travelled the streets of Birmingham handing out free curries to those who are homeless and in need. She worked with Zaika Catering and the Real Junk Food Project to make this a reality.
“Being able to meet and help people in Birmingham who are most in need around Christmas was a moving experience,” says Aysha. “People become homeless for a variety of reasons and many are women who have lost everything. Hearing their stories and being able to help in any way we could – even if it was simply a warm meal – made a real difference. This is a true spirit of Christmas and I was honoured to play my part of help others during this festive season.”
Women have been at the forefront of countless projects this year which are both memorable and important. One that sticks in our minds as we come to the end of 2017 is the story of 27-year-old Zakia Bassou who, along with fellow Muslim women in London, distributed roses carrying messages of peace and love to members of the public on London Bridge in the aftermath of the terrorist attack at Borough Market on 3 June. It was an act that made headlines around the world at a time when we all needed to hear tales of simple human kindness and love.
“Twenty of us handed out 3,000 roses a week after the attack and the response was heartwarming,” says Bassou. “One lady was so moved that she started crying. Every volunteer had a special experience with the people they spoke to – people who were near the attack, locals that have lived in London all their lives, passing tourists. We didn’t want the momentum to end, so we are trying to turn A Thousand Roses into a permanent community group. London Bridge was just the start.”
Bassou has been named as one of Stylist magazine’s Women of the Year 2017.
There are loads of ways to give this Christmas, and continue to do so as we enter 2018. Crisis is a charity that does amazing work with an aim to end homelessness and permanent, positive change. Their roles for volunteering in Birmingham over Christmas are now filled (see how much love there is from the women of the Midlands?) but there are further opportunities to help over the winter and into next year.
It really is that most wonderful time of the year. By giving, we receive so much more. If you are in need, or simply need some support for any reason around Christmas, remember that ODARA is here for you, and everyone is welcome.
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