Nick Benson

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Scots urged to give a Real Gift this Christmas

A Catholic charity boss is urging Scots to remember millions of families across the world living on a knife edge this Christmas because of poverty, hunger, war and natural disasters as it launches its ethical Real Gifts appeal.

Alistair Dutton, Director of SCIAF (Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund), is calling on Scots to dig deep this festive season to change the lives of the world’s poorest, like disabled four-year-old Justin Rugama, who lives in poverty-stricken Nicaragua.

The youngster has a rare birth defect called Proximal Femoral Focal Deficiency (PFFD), which means he was born without the use of his legs – they are very short and haven’t developed properly and his leg joints aren’t in their sockets.

Being born into poverty in a country like Nicaragua is difficult but living with a disability like Justin’s makes life even harder for him and his family. Until he had help from SCIAF, his mum Karen had to carry him everywhere and he was targeted by bullies because of his disability.

Two years ago, their lives were turned around when they received help from Special Families, a SCIAF-supported organisation run by Sr Rebecca Trujillo to help people living with a disability.

Justin has a wheelchair paid for by Scottish donations and with regular physiotherapy and has been gradually getting stronger. He can now sometimes stand and take steps, get off the bed into his wheelchair on his own and push himself, giving him some freedom and
independence.

Now Mr Dutton is urging generous Scots to open their hearts this Christmas and give a present to their loved ones from SCIAF’s Real Gifts catalogue which could change the lives of people in need, like Justin, forever.

“As Christmas approaches, we’re all trying to come up with a special gift for the people we love that really means something. Just imagine the smile on their faces when they open a present that gives a wee boy like Justin and his family a better life,” he said.

SCIAF’s Real Gift ‘Help a child living with a disability’ costs just £79. There are lots of other great gifts for people to choose from this year which support the world’s poorest people. These include the gift of a goat for £32, school books for £10 or a shelter for a family hit by disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes costing only £32.

Alistair added: “By buying our Real Gifts people can help some of the poorest people in the world with practical things like school books, toilets, essential medicines and clean water.

“Christmas is a time to remember thousands of families living on a knife edge as a result of poverty, hunger, war and natural disasters. You can help give them hope for the future by providing them with the things they need to work their way out of poverty.”

SCIAF’s Real Gifts help people in many ways. Justine’s mum, Karen, 24, has been so inspired by her son’s progress that as well as working on a farm, she is studying for a degree in engineering.

“Justin has inspired me to push forward for a better life. He’s so bright and clever, I know he will make it in life,” she said.

“I love that Special Families exists. I am very, very thankful for the support they have given me and Justin. I know we can rely on them in the dark times. When you give money to SCIAF, you are giving people hope for a better life in the future.”

To buy any of these gifts or have a look at SCIAF’s Real Gifts catalogue visit www.sciaf.org.uk or call 0141 354 5555.

Picture: Justin Rugama with brother Kevin. (Colin Hattersley).

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OTHER NEWS

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