Thousands of individuals, churches, schools and other groups in New Zealand and Australia have shown that generosity is not limited by hard times… every person involved has helped to ensure that over 300,000 children will receive a gift-filled shoe box this Christmas!
One of the boxes was given to Pov who lives in the village of Viel Thom in Cambodia. She is one of the children who received the first boxes from Australia, during the first weekend of December 2008
“I’ve never gotten a gift like this before,” said six year old Pov. “I like the stuffed animal the most,” she added, pulling the stuffed gorilla tightly into a hug.
With an unstoppable grin on her face, Pov carefully looked through the contents of her shoe box stopping to inspect a pencil case filled with pencils and erasers and pens.
“I will use this for school,” she said. “I like it so much.”
Pov’s parents, poor rice farmers, would never have dreamed of giving a gift like that to their daughter. Yet on the day of the distribution, Pov could not contain her excitement.
The corrugated tin shacks that line the dusty dirt track cutting through the heart of Viel Thom expose the village’s poverty. Of all the communities in the region, Viel Thom is the poorest. While most of the men in the village are handicapped former soldiers, now retired because of their disabilities, the women of the village farm rice, or tie hay to make thatch to build homes.
Samaritan’s Purse has worked in Viel Thom providing the village with some of its most basic needs; water filters through local partners, a school for the children of the community, and support for the village’s men.
But it was Operation Christmas Child shoe box gifts packed with small gifts, school supplies and hygiene items that brought a twinkle to the eye and a bounce to the step of the children and parents of Viel Thom.