A Different Kind of Christmas

If we asked you to associate one word with Christmas, what would it be? 

Maybe light, togetherness, or food. Whatever it is, it likely wouldn’t be ‘loneliness’.  

Yet that’s the prospect parents at our Chiclayo sponsor site in Peru were faced with last year, when COVID-19 restrictions ruled out in-person gatherings. 

Parents at the site, however, were creative. They knew to expect a different kind of Christmas, but they also knew a pandemic wouldn’t stop them from celebrating. 

Fortunately, living in the age of technology, all things are possible. The families gathered for an online Mass, with several smaller virtual celebrations alongside. 

“They participated with songs, prayer, readings and reflection on the Word,” describes Maribel, site director. 

The parents wanted to spread their joy to others. They made “solidarity baskets”, chock full of essential items that their most vulnerable neighbours, including non-sponsored children, needed most. At the same time, they cooked and packed up take-home “solidarity suppers” for the families to eat at home. 

The local Chalice family circles also ensured all their members received a staple food package with everything need for a traditional Peruvian Christmas dinner.  

A staple treat in Latin America, panettone bread is often eaten at Christmas time in Peru. Site staff bought more than 100 loaves to hand out to mothers new to sponsorship, volunteers and support staff. 

“We want to express our deep gratitude to you and to the entire Chalice family,” writes Maribel, “since with your support the celebration of faith, hope and actions of sharing solidarity that our families had become a reality.” 

Follow Chalice on Facebook and Instagram for daily updates from our sponsor sites, impact stories, and more!

Photo Friday: Our top 5 ‘Sponsorship’ photos photos!

Welcome to Photo Friday! Each Friday, we share photo collections of our favourite shots from our sponsor sites around the world. 

Sponsorship. It’s the core of what we do, and the heartbeat of all we’ll do in future. Thousands of children’s lives have been changed, thanks to our amazing supporters. 

This week marks the third in our Gift Catalogue series, and this week, we’re taking it back to basics. Sponsoring a child or elder is always an option through the gift catalogue, and our top 5 ‘Sponsorship’ photos show just how rewarding it can be! 

P.S. Our 2021 gift catalogue is here! 

#5: Nearer to Nursing 

Christine’s story is a reminder that the connections sponsorship makes don’t end when a child exits the program.  

Christine was her parents’ first child and grew up near Chalice’s Meru site in Kenya. She worked hard in school, helped along by her Chalice sponsor, who supported her through her high school and into university.  

Sadly, Christine was forced to pause her studies and work as a hospital custodian to earn income. Though it was hard work, she was inspired by the medical staff and their good work. 

One day as she walked home, she passed a Chalice site staff worker, who struck up a conversation. At this point, Christine had lost hope she could enroll in university again.  

The Meru site staff applied for Christine to receive assistance to re-enroll in post-secondary and urged her to follow her dream of becoming a nurse.  

Now, Christine is a nursing student! And it all started with sponsorship.

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Our Top Tips for Giving Joy This Christmas

Ah, Christmas. Just that word evokes the sound of tiny feet tumbling down the stairs to tear open presents, crackling fires, and the clanging of dishes on the table while family members reunite after months apart.  

It’s no secret that exchanging gifts is one thing that makes Christmas magical, but toys and trinkets aren’t the only way to give joy. Inspired by our sponsor sites around the world, we’re here with our top tips for giving joy this Christmas season.  

Preparing and Sharing 

At our Ternopil site in Ukraine, the head of the family blesses the food at the table on Christmas Eve, before blessing each dinner attendee. Indeed, Christmas Eve is believed to be the time for miracles. 

Melding spices together into a scrumptious meal and sharing the fruits of that hard work is a simple, joyful staple at Christmas. Letting your little ones help with the stirring and mixing – that’s precious time and joy you won’t get back. 

Continue reading “Our Top Tips for Giving Joy This Christmas”

Bernarda Bakes Her Heart Out

If you’re living near Chalice’s Arica site in Chile, and you’re in need of a birthday cake, you’ve got to check out Bernarda’s business. Her delicious cakes, pies and kuchen are well-known among friends and neighbours, who regularly sign up to purchase her tasty desserts.  

Bernarda is an active member of her parish and an angel to those in need. After 30 years volunteering in a soup kitchen that fed the homeless, Bernarda needed a retirement career to cover what her pension could not. She settled into her true passion: pastry.  

But passion hasn’t always been enough. When Bernarda’s oven broke down a year ago, she could no longer bake. As a 78-year-old woman who couldn’t afford to live on just her pension, there was only one choice: find new work. 

Bernarda was determined and found work as a caregiver for an elderly couple, cooking and cleaning for them. For a woman her age, though, the work was hard.  

That’s when, by the grace of God, she was given a second chance to follow her passion. 

Thanks to a donation from the Chalice gift catalogue, Bernarda received a brand-new oven.  

“Seeing her happy face was a gift,” our site staff on-the-ground in Chile wrote. 

She’s now organizing her time so she can sell pastries, and is so thrilled to once more work on her passion. 

“With it, I will prepare my pastries; I will keep doing what I like. I love you very much. May God repay you for all the good you have done to me,” Bernarda wrote.    

Do you want to help someone like Bernarda? Check out the 2021 Christmas gift catalogue Learn More! 

Follow Chalice on Facebook and Instagram for daily updates from our sponsor sites, impact stories, and more!

Photo Friday: Our top 5 ‘Most Needed’ photos!

Welcome to Photo Friday! Each Friday, we share photo collections of our favourite shots from our sponsor sites around the world.  

We’re stuffing the stockings and wrapping up presents under the tree, all while water for hot chocolate boils in the background. The wait for Christmas has begun – but as we wait, we must remember those who do not have all that we do.  

This week is the first in a three-part series of our favourite photos from different sections of the Chalice gift catalogue. Every donation makes a difference, and our top 5 ‘Most Needed’ photos illustrate just that!  

P.S. Our 2021 gift catalogue is here! 

#5: Helping Kids Be Kids

Brandon is eight years old and lives with his parents, Doris and Vitalino, and his two brothers, Wilson and Juan David, in Guatemala. An active and studious boy in grade two, he loves math!  

The family relies on what Vitalino can earn as a fisherman, which isn’t a lot. He and Doris struggle to provide the nutritious food their boys need.  

Thanks to everyone who gave a gift through Chalice’s gift catalogue, Brandon and his family have full cupboards of kid-friendly essentials.  

“Thank you for the support you have given me,” writes Doris. “I thank God that I was able to buy food for the family, which was cereals, beans, eggs, milk, juices, apples, and sugar. 

“Thank you for your valuable generosity for those most in need may the Lord bless and protect them always.” 

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Full Bellies for Families

Annamary, a sponsored child, lives near our Assam site in India. Her home is on top of a hill, where she lives with her younger sister and brother, and their parents. Her mother has been sick for seven years, while her father is a daily wage labourer.  

In their circumstances, Annamary’s parents often found it challenging to provide for the family.  

COVID-19 flipped the world upside down, and the effects trickled all the way to Annamary. Her father lost his job, and the family went hungry. Other villagers stepped in to provide food, but the family needed more.   

In came Chalice donors.  

“I have no words to thank God for Chalice for providing us our daily food especially during the lockdown,” Annamary writes. 

With donations to Chalice’s gift catalogue, the family purchased food, including rice, sugar, wheat flour, oil and salt. Annamary writes that the donations helped reduce poverty and protected the most vulnerable amid the pandemic.  

In fact, she credits Chalice donors for her family surviving the lockdown at all, writing, “We are very happy and grateful to Chalice for providing us nutrition at the right time.” 

Of course, the food was a huge help to the family. But Chalice donors knew they could do more. Annamary’s family had an unsanitary toilet made of old tin sheets, and the safety tank had no cover.  

Thanks to the generosity of Chalice supporters, the family received a proper toilet through the gift catalogue. 

“We are very thankful to Chalice who helped us so much through the sponsorship program and helping us to improve our daily life,” writes Annamary. 

Check out the 2021 Christmas gift catalogue here, and find out how you can give joy to families around the world!  

Follow Chalice on Facebook and Instagram for daily updates from our sponsor sites, impact stories, and more!

Photo Friday: Our top 5 ‘Festive Food’ photos!

Welcome to Photo Friday! It’s the time of week we sure our favourite snaps from our sponsor sites around the world. 

Our American neighbours just celebrated Thanksgiving, with delicious food all ‘round! And while we wait for the coming of Christ, there’s no reason we can’t have a sneak peek at some of the delicious eats awaiting us in December. Ukraine has plenty of those, and our top 5 ‘Festive Food’ photos will show you just go good Ukranian treats can be. (Hint: a lot of bread.) 

#5: The Best Bread

YUM! Ukranian bread is sometimes given as a gift when a respected person arrives. If it tastes half as good as it looks, it’d be hard not to feel welcome.  

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Pochaiv Program Will Bring Hope to Teens

Take a moment, and think of a young person in your life. Maybe it’s a child, or a sibling, or a friend’s child. Now, imagine that person is usually sent to live with relatives so their parents can find work in another country – and then, picture even that work disappearing when COVID-19 hit. Think of how stressed they and their family would be, and how alcohol advertised on TV might become appealing. 

For children and young people at our Pochaiv site, this kind of upset is a daily reality. As the stresses built up among families when parents lost work, young people began struggling with addiction. Something had to be done.  

Fortunately, Chalice’s Pochaiv site has recently partnered with a local community centre called the St. John Bosco Christian Youth Centre, and the nearby church to uplift youth struggling with addiction in the community of Ivano-Frankivsk.  

Through this Chalice project, there are plans to renovate part of the youth centre into an addictions facility where professionals will offer therapy and activities to teens and parents. Staff will purchase necessary learning materials, furniture, and equipment. Through Chalice’s support, the site will employ facilitators for the program’s inaugural year.  

Every week, teens will have two 45-minute sessions with a psychologist, one in a group of ten and the other in individual therapy. Parents will also meet weekly in groups of ten. The site is even planning field trips, including one to a swimming pool, a theatre, and a monastery. All activities will, of course, follow public health guidelines.  

The initiative is poised to strengthen the youth and their parents, equipping them to move forward together. The youth will learn tools to overcome addiction it, while parents will learn how to support their teens through the journey. Both groups will learn to communicate and have difficult, but constructive and caring, conversations.  

The Pochaiv site will establish and support the program in its first year, and a local church will continue it after. 

Through their hard work, they will offer hope to 140 sponsored teens struggling with addiction, and through them, reach 280 of their family members. 100 non-sponsored children will also be touched by the ray of light that is this program. 

When you think of that child or young person in your life, we ask that you remember and uplift the children at our Pochaiv site. Pray for their healing, and we’ll keep your loved ones in our prayers, too.  

Follow Chalice on Facebook and Instagram for daily updates from our sponsor sites, impact stories, and more!

Photo Friday: Our top 5 ‘Joy of Winter’ photos!

Welcome to Photo Friday! Each Friday, we share photo collections of our favourite shots from our sponsor sites around the world. 

Winds are biting at your face, while your feet are covered in slush. It’s time to put on your gloves, step out the door, and own up to the truth: winter is coming. 

But never fear! Winter is actually a time of joy, togetherness and laughter. This week, our top 5 ‘Joy of Winter’ photos celebrate what a beautiful time of year the frostiest season is.  

#5: Playtime

What’s better than playing outside in the snow with friends? Okay, if your response is, “Literally anything else”, then maybe this blog’s not for you. Everyone else: there’s nothing more joyful than seeing kids having a blast during winter.  

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Sponsorship is Music to Iryna’s Ears

Beautiful young Iryna was the first daughter born to her parents. They were already wrangling three sons by the time she came along, and it was, well, a lot. With a baby and three young boys, her mother Olha gave up her job as a music teacher to focus on being a full-time mom. Despite Iryna’s father working as a driver, the family struggled to make ends meet.  

On top of that, Iryna has a weak immune system and fell sick often as a child. That’s why the family was thrilled when Iryna and her brother Bohdan were chosen by Chalice sponsors. Iryna was only one-and-a-half years old at the time!  

Continue reading “Sponsorship is Music to Iryna’s Ears”