For one woman I know, the attitude and celebration of Christmas is a daily routine. I’ve watched Nidhal Garmo’s charity work, which started over a decade ago, grow immensely even as she juggled the role of motherhood and ran two pharmacies. She founded and is president of One World Medical Mission (OWMM), a nonprofit organization, and recently held a fundraising gala to raise funds for the poor, providing them with food, clothes, shelter, and medical supplies.
Despite the snow and slippery roads, over 500 people attended this event to support a truly admirable cause led by a powerful, feminine, and inspiring woman. It was a lovely night filled with delicious food and exquisite people. Sitting at the table with a notebook in hand, sipping wine and observing my surroundings, I watched Nidhal work nonstop. She greeted everyone who walked through the doors and didn’t sit down to eat dinner. That’s basically her life story, a story of productivity and fulfillment, all while maintaining constant grace, kindness, and beauty.
“This is a great cause,” said Faiz Al Sendy, one of the attendees sitting at my table. “What Nidhal does is what Jesus and the Bible encourages us to do. Jesus is about love, forgiveness and giving to the poor.”
I remembered my son a few Christmas ago, at age six, asking me, “Mom, if Christmas is Jesus’ birthday, why are we the ones getting gifts?”
One of the main reasons we have the custom of giving and receiving presents at Christmas is to remind us of when the Wise Men gave Jesus gifts. But I’ve often wondered, after the kids opened their expensive presents – sometimes to only play with them for a few weeks, a few days, or even a few hours – whether the message in this tradition is lost.
What a blessing it would be to include in our Christmas tradition giving to a charity that we love and believe in. Isaiah 1:17 says, “Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.”
I’ve known Nidhal for a long time, had interviewed her on several occasions, watched her going bad forth to Iraq to help the poor and destitute. I’ll never forgot some of her most inspiring quotes about charity. She’d said, “I’m tired physically but happy mentally.”
She has often urged people to be charitable now, not to wait until it is too late and then regret having wasted their money on materialistic matters. When she pursued this path, she faced a great deal of financial difficulties but she was able to overcome them with faith and determination.
“I trust God and that’s why I’m not afraid to give all my money away,” she said. “He does not disappoint anyone. Just wait and see what will happen!”
She’d once told me that when she doesn’t have money, she talks to God and within a short time, she receives a call or an email that guides and assists her situation. No wonder she’d been nicknamed “The Mother Theresa of Iraq.”
“Give charity work a try,” she says with an upbeat and beautiful smile. “It’s fun and you’ll love it”