what Christian charity looks like

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles ) | Nov 25, 2005

While millions of Americans lazily begin working off the calories from a big turkey dinner, as others launch furious assaults on the local shopping malls, the New Orleans Times-Picayune gives this humbling report from a country where things are a bit different:

The Kireka slum clings to a stony hillside above Kampala, Uganda, home to at least 5,000 impoverished refugees who live in hand-fashioned shelters bordered by outdoor latrines. The hillside is not only home, but work: Strip quarries line its face. Men dig out its larger rocks, while hundreds of women spend their days in stooped manual labor, pounding the rocks by hand into walnut-sized stones for sale as construction material. They earn about $1.20 per day.

So American aid worker Amy Cunningham could scarcely believe it when she was summoned to Kireka last month for a festive celebration in which dozens of women handed over nearly $900 in wages: their gift to victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

The story by Bruce Nolan goes on to tell about the AIDS epidemic that is scouring Uganda, the civil war that is killing women and children and stopping relief shipments. And this:

In a country where the average annual income is about $300, Archbishop John Baptist Odama raised $500 over several weeks among Catholics in northern Uganda in special collections for New Orleans relief...

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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  • Posted by: Vincit omnia amor - Nov. 26, 2005 9:42 PM ET USA

    Dear "Canismater." I understand what you are saying, but the use of the word "spiritualism," as it is more commonly used, is understood to be the belief that the dead communicate with the living, as through a medium. Perhaps, "spirituality" in this case would be better. Blessed are the poor!

  • Posted by: - Nov. 26, 2005 3:39 PM ET USA

    Yes. The poor can be very generous because they know at first hand what need and hardship are like.

  • Posted by: - Nov. 26, 2005 3:05 PM ET USA

    It’s tough to take but true nonetheless. Poverty produces spiritualism; abundance produces materialism. Blessed are the poor...

  • Posted by: - Nov. 26, 2005 2:43 AM ET USA

    It DOES sort of put us to shame, doesn't it, Phil?

  • Posted by: Vincit omnia amor - Nov. 25, 2005 9:01 PM ET USA

    The poor are generally not out done in generosity . . . and the Good Lord see this! May all of us learn from this example that we may give, like Mother Teresa said: "until it hurts."

  • Posted by: - Nov. 25, 2005 8:17 PM ET USA

    Thank You for this very touching story.. May God bless those doners and their generosity..

  • Posted by: - Nov. 25, 2005 7:58 PM ET USA

    Wasn't it the widow who gave the smallest but the most whom Jesus praised? I need this simplicity, generosity, goodness of spirit and faith.

  • Posted by: Sir William - Nov. 25, 2005 5:33 PM ET USA

    It makes one feel very very small.