Lliana on the HuffPo – ‘Would You Forfeit One Christmas Gift for a Refugee This Year?’

Lliana has launched our Warm Wishes campaign in the Huffington Post with this article

Would You Forfeit One Christmas Gift for a Refugee This Year?

Around this time every December I get asked the same question by family and friends…so what do you want for Christmas this year?

And the truth is… not very much any more. When I was a kid there was always plenty on my list. Toys, clothes, games… you know the drill. When I got older there was still loads that I thought I wanted – jewellery, a new outfit, a rare book. Things made me happy for a moment – they usually do. But here I am aged 34 and I really can’t think of much that I actually need anymore. I suspect you might feel the same.

Maybe it’s the realisation that experiences – over things – are what truly make you happy, as this recent scientific study proved. Maybe it’s because, unlike so many others in the UK, I’m lucky, and have led a relatively comfortable life without ever truly understanding what it was like to go without. Usually I’ll try and rack my brain, and think of something that I could possibly want for Christmas, knowing that it might make my loved ones happy if they get me something I really want.

But not this year. Not anymore. Enough is enough.

I’ve spent the last few months working to try and help refugees across Europe as part of Help Refugees (an organisation I co-founded). Our work varies from building shelters, to providing food and medical care, to aspects of search and rescue. And for me the reality of what a person who genuinely has nothing looks like is clearer than ever before. Suddenly the value of things take on a new meaning… I now know exactly how much it costs to buy a jumper in Macedonia, I know what one meal costs in Lesbos, what a sleeping bag costs in Serbia.

So, how could I allow an aunty to buy me yet another jumper (which I’ll politely wear once before tucking it away discreetly in the back of my cupboard) knowing that there are literally hundreds of thousands of people who would love something warm to wear in the cold months? How can I allow £30 to be wasted on an unwanted gift for me when that £30 could be used to buy someone a sleeping bag to help keep someone warm at night?

And I’m not being a Scrooge here. I understand there is a joy in giving and receiving gifts – sometimes presents can be a great way of showing (and being shown) that you care about someone. And there will always be some people worse off than us, so that shouldn’t deny us our own right to enjoy the pleasures of life.

But I will ask you this… do you think you might be able to do without one Christmas present this year? Just one. One amongst the many you may receive.

If you can’t, then fair play. Maybe like many in the UK you too struggle in life and Christmas is a rare chance to actually get some things you really do need/ want. But if you can, if you could do without one of the gifts you’re expecting this year then please consider doing this: ask one friend/family member/loved one whether this year, instead of buying a gift for you they could please buy one gift for a refugee instead – for someone who has very little, who is facing very tough times, and who would really appreciate this hard earned cash being spent on something essential for them.

I’ll be doing the same this year. And I promise you, giving will have never felt this good.

Click here to buy one sleeping bag, one coat, or one tent for a refugee this Christmas, and you’ll receive a special hand-designed Christmas e-card. And please do help us spread the word and encourage others to do the same using #warmwishes.

You can also use our #WarmWishes Amazon wishlist to send something here.

Find out more about how you can help keep refugees warm this winter here:
@helprefugeesuk #warmwishes


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