Byline: by Melanie Verwoerd
NOTHING can ever prepare you for the shock of seeing - as i have seen in South Africa - a woman who is dying from Aids or starvation still trying to breastfeed her baby.
Or for the despair when you realise that a little toddler who has been orphaned had been walking for miles in the freezing cold in Swaziland (as he does every day) to a tree next to a road, because he knows there will be women there who will provide him with his only meal for the day.
I recently saw a debate on TV about how the recession is going to affect Christmas this year in ireland. The debate centred on how many parents are, and will be, struggling to pay for Christmas gifts this year.
Apparently, the average spend in recent years was more than [euro]600 per family. Although i felt that the debate did not really get to the heart of the issues i was really saddened by the thought that there will be so many parents this Christmas who might feel that they will somehow disappoint their children - something no parent ever wants to face.
Then i remembered something i saw a few years ago in South Africa. A charity there started to put Christmas trees in shopping malls, so that children from the townships could put their Christmas wishes under the tree. (A South African version of a letter to Santa.) People could look at the wishes and, if they wanted, go and buy what the children asked for - …