The Christmas season is almost over here in England. A few more celebrations left perhaps but for the most part it's almost time to get on with the new year - with 2019 - and get back to work.
This year I had the great privilege of spending Christmas with - and learning from, - four generations of my family. I got to listen to - and learn from - my parents in law, my wife, my children and my grandson. And, with the exception of my wife and my youngest daughter, they all came a long way so that I could do so.
My parents in law, who are both over 82, drove over 600 km from the Netherlands. My oldest son flew in with his family from Switzerland. My youngest son traveled over seven hours from Bournemouth to visit us in Kent. Spending hundreds of pounds to spend time together.
It’s not about the hundreds pound we spend though is it? It’s about spending time together. Filling our heads and hearts with memories. Spending quality time together. Creating a precious bubble that can never be replicated, that will always be remembered and that it's very hard to leave. I'm sure you know exactly what I mean.
Those precious bubbles exist all over the world. Including in the developing countries that are so close to my heart. They just don't have the resources to travel to visit distant friends and relatives, or to pile gifts under a big Christmas tree. Or in many cases to even have a Christmas tree at all.
But I don’t want to go on about what you know already about developing countries. I want to tell you what I learned from my friends in Uganda. What it means to have next to nothing and to have the most amazing time together. To fill the air with laughter, songs and to say thank you. To be grateful and to share.
My friends create their precious bubble without all the trappings of gifts and decorations and endless marketing. So who is really poor? My friends who can have a great time with little more than one another's company or so many of us, whose 'happiness' at this time of year often revolves around buying 'stuff' we really don't need and eating WAY more than we should. Do we get poorer the more we get and get lost in all of that? I think the answer might be yes, don't you?
Back home in my safe little European bubble, I'm still recovering from the trip, all the work I did there and, sadly, the side effects of my malaria tablets!
It's been three years since we began our work in Uganda. And I can see that, along with other local initiatives in the fields of health care, family planning, hygiene, housing and so on, that Bluseeds, in enabling individuals to start a business in their own community, adds an important additional element in the development of sustainable communities. Read on and reflect - and look forward - with me.