Last year we had to cut our Christmas holiday short because of the massive floods in Mindanao: mom had to go back to Manila to lead the emergency response.
Earlier this year we joked that we hoped we could celebrate Christmas and lo and behold, typhoon Bopha chose to make landfall in Mindano, killing more than 1,000 people and making more than 300,000 people homeless.
It took us all of 10 minutes to decide skipping Christmas altogether rather than stressing out and trying to have a semblance of a Christmas celebration whilst a massive emergency response was underway.
When I asked the kids if they realized that there would be no Christmas shopping, no Christmas cooking and no Christmas presents, they shrugged and said: “We have everything we need and we are safe, you just go and help those people who have lost everything, it’s no problem.
And it really isn’t. Funny enough, we did not miss the whole Christmas thing and we cherished the evenings and the half day here and there that we did manage to spend together around Christmas.
When one works in development, sometimes it can feel like the work is never ending, the problems will never be solved and the inequality one witnesses can be unbearable. But every now and then, when I look at my daughters and realize how much they understand about people who are less fortunate than they are; how they get out of their comfort zone to support a cause and how they really don’t care that we’re skipping Christmas, I feel filled with hope for a better world and it gives me the strength to roll up my sleeves and keep on going.
Today I am once again a passionate and restless country director for Plan International and a proud mom!
-- Carin van der Hor is country director of Plan International in the Philippines.