Happy Holidays from Paraguay

Christmas Around the World Mosaic
Happy Holidays! Our mosaic images are from: China, Czech Republic, Germany, Thailand and the U.S. (and Kyrgyzstan, sort of — thanks Zoë and Zach!)

A few days ago, we were enjoying the Paraguayan tradition of drinking tereré (a cold version of yerba maté) to cool off from the tropical heat. As we sipped, we chuckled at how the food stalls at the Encarnación bus station broadcast dueling Christmas songs — a Jingle Bells here, a Frosty the Snowman there. Yet, there we sat sweating away.

Hot or cold, the holidays are upon us.

Before the season slips away, we wanted to send holiday wishes to all of our friends and readers. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, Yule, Kwanzaa, Festivus — or nothing at all — our best wishes go out to you and your family.

Note: If Christmas is your thing, check out Best of European Christmas Markets and our European Christmas market photo essay.

As for us, we hope to be in Buenos Aires, Argentina for Christmas and the New Year. We look forward to meeting a friend from the U.S., sampling the city´s culinary diversity, and — imagine this — relaxing.

As is our custom, we also suggest two worthwhile organizations to consider supporting this holiday season. Both are coincidentally connected with Cambodia, a country whose recent history has known unimaginable atrocities, but whose people possess a remarkable perseverance and positive spirit.

Passports With Purpose – Help Build a School in Rural Cambodia

As one travels, the world’s problems begin to take on a personal face; this often accelerates one’s desire to help. Last year, four travel bloggers created Passports With Purpose to do something for countries whose needs they had witnessed firsthand.

This year, Passports with Purpose harnesses the power of the blogosphere and tugs on the heart strings of its growing network to build a school in rural Cambodia. They are partnering with American Assistance for Cambodia; only $13,000 is needed to build an entire school. You might notice that they’ve already reached their goal and are raising even more; an additional $13,000 provides clean water, healthy meals and medical care for the students.

The system is simple and appealing: a $10 donation enters you to win one of many prizes donated by other bloggers and companies. Prizes range from a Flip Camera to Five Nights at a Hotel in Costa Rica to a new backpack. There really is something for almost everyone.

Check out the prizes, make your donation, help build a school in Cambodia, and perhaps win something cool in the process.

Shy Little Girl - Battambang, Cambodia
School girl in a village near Battambang, Cambodia.

Adrianne and Rick – Helping Burmese Refugees and Cambodian Orphanages, Schools and Hospitals

We don’t mean to sound like a broken record each year by bringing up Adrianne and Rick and the work that they do in Cambodia and Burmese refugee camps on the Thai border, but we can’t help it.

Their work is that impressive and they are an inspiration. Each time we receive one of their email updates, chills always hit the spine; we are often moved to tears.

Below is an excerpt from one of their updates last year when they courageously crossed into Burma from Thailand to deliver medical and school supplies to ethnic Karen villages:

We meet with the teachers and they tell us that they are mostly volunteers. They also have over 150 children living in their thatched dorms. The school has only a few chalkboards and no books or pencils. We ask them what they need and the head teacher tells us they need rice “as you cannot teach starving children.” Even though we are now over budget for this area we cannot walk away and agree to buy them 42 x 40 kilo bags of rice.

We explain what we do and how people across the world are wanting to help and they ask if they can sing to us a song as this is the only gift they can give us. Very touching…they sing us several.

We admire Adrianne’s and Rick’s dedication to helping people in this region, and the humility and dignity with which they grace their efforts. Because of the strong local relationships they have developed over the last decade, they are able to affect thousands of people with remarkably small amounts of money.

If you are interested in donating money to support Adrianne’s and Rick’s work, you can support them through their K.I.D.S. website.

K.I.D.S. is a Canadian tax-deductible organization.

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Comments

  1. says

    I’m currently listening to a steel pan drummer playing “Guavaberry Christmas” in St. Thomas. When I lived in Puerto Rico, I always found it hard to get in the holiday spirit because I associate Christmas with cold weather, but there’s a spirit of celebration in the Caribbean that’s so strong, you can’t ignore it!

  2. says

    @Julie: We’ve spent previous Christmases in Thailand where it’s warm, but there isn’t a local tradition of celebrating Christmas (it’s a Buddhist country). So, it’s been fun being in South America for the lead up to Christmas since it is such a big family holiday here and there are some traditions that look familiar (people dressed as Santa Claus) and others that are new to us. Hope you got your fill of warm weather before returning to chilly New York City!

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