Thinking of others at Christmas time
While wishing all our readers a happy and safe Christmas, Amii McKeever reflects on the fact that homlessness and hunger are still very problematic in our world

And, just like that, Christmas is upon us. The last of the preparations are being made. Our cover star this week – Santa – is on route and children across the country are rightly very excited.

There is no doubt that 2019 brought many challenges to farmers’ homes across the country. But there also are many societal challenges impacting our country. Sadly there will be a lot of children in hotel bedrooms again this year – hopefully Santa will find them there. I was personally more exposed to this in 2019 than heretofore.

Just like my increased awareness of homelessness, Christmas flags up things that we might not notice at other times of the year

The reason; I occasionally stay in a hotel close to the office to break up the Dublin-Kilkenny daily commute and I have heard them in their own rooms. I initially thought it strange for parents to be taking their kids on hotel breaks at such odd times and then the penny dropped. My bed for the night was their home.

Although it is important for everyone to enjoy the festivities, waste is probably higher at this time of the year also

Just like my increased awareness of homelessness, Christmas flags up things that we might not notice at other times of the year. There is a tendency to do everything in excess at Christmas. We are definitely guilty in our house anyway. Most of us consume a lot more over the Christmas period, be that food, drink or consumer goods.

Although it is important for everyone to enjoy the festivities, waste is probably higher at this time of the year also. With increasing focus on the environment, waste may be something that people will think about more this year.

Consumer eating habits are changing and the impact of food production on the environment is one of the drivers. This week Karina Pierce speaks to Irish Country Living about a United Nations Committee on Food Security meeting that she attended in Rome as part of her Nuffield Scholarship travels. While obesity and hunger are both growing globally, food waste is also a huge problem, she said, contributing 8% of global greenhouse gasses.

She didn’t want our uncle, who was witnessing such poverty, to see his nieces wasting any food

My uncle Fr Benny was a missionary in Peru for seven years in the early 1980s and when he came home we all noticed that the amount of food our mother would put on our plates was visibly less. She didn’t want our uncle, who was witnessing such poverty, to see his nieces wasting any food so she thought it best for us to look for more than leave it behind us. I plan to revert back to this policy this Christmas.

Creating a positive experience is really important to encourage new blood into the industry into the future

As we look towards 2020, it won’t be long before the busy calving period is here again. With such a demand for labour at this time of year, students on their work experience can play an important role in easing some of the shortage. In careers, Odile Evans has some top tips for hosting a student on your farm. Creating a positive experience is really important to encourage new blood into the industry into the future.

Speaking of students, we in Irish Country Living are looking for a Leaving Cert student, who is studying agricultural science, to write a Leaving Certificate monthly diary for our careers pages in 2020. If you are interested, please send a 500 word essay on the topic “The Leaving Certificate is not fit for purpose” to Odile Evans oevans@farmersjournal.ie by 10 January 2020. You are free to agree or disagree in your essay.

Happy Christmas to all our readers.

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