Respect: In the Stockings of Saint Nicholas

Season 2, Episode 5 (Value: Respect)

What if giving gifts to those in need could boost self-respect instead of creating dependency? Saint Nicholas understood this when he gave money anonymously to an impoverished family to supply dowries that would allow their three daughters to marry and have a future. And Serve the City volunteers step in St. Nicholas’ stockings—not just on Christmas, but throughout the year—when they respect people in need and realize they also have something to give to the world. Maybe they just need a little help in being able to realize this potential.

The two stories we bring you this Christmas week demonstrate this Saint Nicholas principle, of giving that empowers vulnerable people to give back to their community. The first is a real Christmas story, where Serve the City volunteers gave a gift TO Santa, and the second a tale of marginalized women given respect with the opportunity to take initiative in their own impoverished community. Whether in Luxembourg or Nairobi, the path of Saint Nicholas is one we can walk all year!

You can listen to this episode HERE:

On St. Nicholas’ Day, 2020, a street team of Serve the City Luxembourg volunteers took food to the main train station. Among the hungry people at the station, they encountered a street performer named Edward St. Amond whose guitar had been broken, leaving him without a means of support.

Our two interviewees for the podcast, Nicolas Duprey and Jagrati Dubey are standing on either side of Edward in the photo above.

Edward’s resemblance to the Saint whose day it was led Nicolas and the team to use social media to post this #SantaNeedsHelp post! Within 24 hours, hundreds of offers of help had poured in.

In the end, volunteers banded together to buy Edward a brand-new Ibanez guitar that would suit his style of roots music! (You can see him playing it in the picture above.) Since then, Edward has released two singles using his new guitar, as well as playing in music festivals.

If you would like to listen to Edward St. Amond’s music, you can listen here:

Also, if you would like to support Edward in his music, you can buy his songs through Bandcamp for any amount from €2 (but also for higher than that!

This is our Serve the City partner Janet Mwendwa, who works with African Enterprise development projects. She is the one who told us about the Mathare Women’s Project, working with vulnerable women in one of the largest slums in Nairobi to teach them marketable tailoring skills.

The women go through a residential apprenticeship in which they learn to make all kinds of clothes and goods for the tourist trade. At the end, they graduate with their own sewing machine… and improved self-respect.

Janet told us about how the Mathare Women got involved as volunteers on Serve the City Nairobi projects, and discovered that they had something to offer their community. Here, they are washing clothes for children in an orphanage.

In this picture, you cannot tell which of these STC volunteers are women from the slums and which are volunteers from the suburbs—or even government ministers! When everyone puts on a Serve the City T-shirt, they are all equal, and all to be respected. The Mathare Women found out that volunteering was not about giving money, but about giving the talents and abilities they had to benefit the community. This is the kind of respect we want to give people that we usually consider to be people in need: to recognize that they also have abilities and resources to give and to make their communities a better place to live.

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