Wars, floods and the gift of chickens (2011 True Spirit of Christmas)

Yesterday, November 28, marked the start of World Vision's 2011 True Spirit of Christmas trip -- a three-week quest to discover the true meaning of the season and to witness just how Gift Catalog donations impact children and families around the world.  This post was written by Kirsten Stearns, host for this year's trip, on day 1 from the community of Horowpothana in Sri Lanka. Stay up to date with our team on the World Vision Facebook page and website.

Although my time in Sri Lanka has been brief so far, I have learned a lot and am excited to spend more time with the community in the coming days.

Our Sri Lanka trip is based in the community of Horowpothana in the northern part of the country. This community is just coming out of 30 years of war, which ended in 2009 but was followed by one of the worst floods in the area on record. Despite all of this hardship, World Vision staff are working to help local community members lift themselves out of this terrible poverty cycle, fueled by years of war and natural disaster.

As the World Vision director in Horowpothana said, “Now people are looking forward and thinking about the future [not just about safety].”

*      *      *

Today, I got to meet Chamila and her daughter, Piyumi, who have received the gift of chickens through World Vision’s Gift Catalog.

Chamila had nothing before the chickens. She would take Piyumi, who is now 6 years old, to day jobs with her in an effort to make enough money to survive. But the travels during war time and after were dangerous for Piyumi. Even so, Chamila had no choice.

Now, with the chickens, not only is Chamila able to stay home, but Piyumi is able to attend school. She says she loves being in school and being with her chickens.

It is obvious that little Piyumi loves the sense of responsibility that comes with her chickens — she feeds, waters, and catches any loose chickens that escape from the coop. It was amazing to see a 6-year-old girl so eager to help with her family’s chores. It’s clear she understands the incredible impact these chickens have had on her and her mother’s life.

When asked about how the chickens benefit her family, mother Chamila only talks about her daughter’s future. She is in school, she is happier, she has a future, and her mom can spend time with her. Neither Chamila nor Piyumi stop smiling. Their smiles are infectious and beautiful.

World Vision’s goal is to partner with each of you to create 600,000 smiles like Chamila’s and Piyumi’s this Christmas — through items like chickens and others we will see together over the duration of this trip in the next several weeks. As we seek to discover the impact of your Gift Catalog donations, I know that with Chamila and Piuymi, we’ve already found a family thriving because of them.

This Christmas, your gifts will create a ripple of smiles across the world; I’m sure of that. I look forward to sharing more smiles with you in the coming weeks.


Tomorrow, Kirsten and team meet Chooti the cow. Check back for details on their visit!

Follow Kirsten and team on their quest to discover the true spirit of Christmas.

This Christmas, give a gift that's too big for a box and bow. Give a gift from World Vision's Gift Catalog.

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