A U.K. charity is flipping the script on the traditional nativity scene that graces the covers of many Christmas cards this time of year.
Doctors of The World, a charity that works to give marginalized people around the world access to health care, has released a set of holiday cards for 2016 that showcase the modern realities of the region that was the birthplace of Christianity.
The cards feature idyllic images of Mary, Joseph, shepherds, and animals. Layered over these illustrations are chilling reminders of what some people in war-torn parts of the Middle East wake up to every day ― bombed-out buildings, drones, and missiles.
One card features the Three Wise Men, who according to tradition, followed the Star of Bethlehem to the manger where Jesus was born. But in this image, the star has been replaced by a drone.
“Every Christmas a romanticized picture is presented of the holy land of the past, featuring peaceful pastoral images that are shared in homes, churches and high streets across the country,” Leigh Daynes, the charity’s Executive Director, said in a statement. “This is completely at odds with the humanitarian crisis that the region faces today.”
The advertising agency McCann London designed these cards pro bono. They feature modern-day images taken by the Press Association over the last year. A spokesperson for Doctors of the World told The Huffington Post that they’ve sold over 3,200 cards since launching the project on November 26.
Doctors of the World has about 15 offices around the world, including two in Jordan and Lebanon. The charity reports that it provided over 580,000 people with medical care and delivered over 8,560 mental health consultations in Syria, Yemen, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq in 2015.
Conflict in the Middle East has contributed to largest forced displacement of civilians since after World War II. According to the UNHCR, the highest number of externally displaced people have come from Syria. About 6.5 million people have been internally displaced in Syria since fighting erupted in March 2011, while 13.5 million are in need of humanitarian aid. In Iraq, 3.2 million have been internally displaced.
If those numbers break your heart, as Doctors of the World suggests, “’Tis the season to give a damn.’”
A pack of four limited edition cards cost $12.65 and can be purchased from the Doctors of the World website.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misstated the cost of the card set as $1.25. They cost $12.65.
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