Inspirational stories are a dime a dozen, yes. But this is no ordinary story. Because it is completely inordinary for a 7-year-old boy to spend his birthday money on gifts for other kids he’ll never meet living in countries he’ll never go to. Gifts like goats and medicine and training — not your average choice for an primary school student.
That’s why I have to gush a little about Ryan.
Ryan lives in central Auckland, just outside our central business district, with his mum, dad, and two sisters. His dad is a friend of a World Vision supporter who first told us about Ryan’s absolutely precious passion for our Smiles Gifts — a range of “gifts” that can be purchased by donation for families in need in countries like Tanzania, Cambodia and Honduras.
Last year around this time, Ryan was with his mum at a parenting store. While there he spotted and picked up one of our Smiles Gift Catalogues. His dad tells us that Ryan spent several weeks reading the catalogue just before bed, it was his bedtime reading material. When I actually met Ryan in September he had memorised all the gifts in the catalogue and their prices. He had already rationalised that a fish farm over emergency food aid was the better gift since it provided families with food long-term, rather than just in emergency situations. He bought/gave a goat last year because “you can keep the goat for a little while then you can eat the goat.”
I sat at the table melting. Ryan’s feet hung over his chair dangling from the ground. His accent… ohhhh, that little Kiwi accent. Suppose I was sold from the moment he said, “hello, come in.”
So we got a little carried away, as I tend to do when I find something I love so much. We wanted to create a video of Ryan — not scripted and rehearsed Ryan, but just Ryan as he was the same day we met him at his house over breakfast. Well, that idea + an awesome videographer who offered to shoot and edit our idea pro bono, turned into three videos — all unscripted and shot at our Gift Catalogue manager’s farm.
Ryan’s story is the (cliche, but true) inspiration of our Christmas campaign this year. His story will be featured in several news outlets including a couple of NZ magazines; of course on our Facebook Page, on our Youtube channel, blog and website. I can’t go the Christmas season living in New Zealand without posting about Ryan’s story myself.
Have a watch of Ryan’s videos… the best 50 seconds of your day, I promise. There is no age requirement in the heart of a giver. Be blessed and be a blessing this holiday.
PS: When I was little, I used to be picked on some for always being the smallest in the class. My dad used to tell me it’s because dynamite comes in small packages. In the era in which inspirational stories are a dime a dozen and charities and churches have star-like and concert-like abilities, I think, inspiration still comes in small packages, too.
This last Friday at our all staff forum we had a bit of a New Zealand premier of Ryan’s Smiles trilogy with popcorn, the big screen and a few awards. Easy to guess who won best actor.