Celebrating Christmas with the Children
Trip Start Jan 20, 2004
187Trip End Ongoing
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Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house.........no, we’d better back up a week.
Twas the week before Christmas, and Sharon was still hobbling around because of that stupid sprained ankle. Thoughts of my proposed trip to South Africa to purchase Christmas gifts for the orphans became too onerous, so I decided to make do with what Lesotho had to offer. While North American children dream of every toy imaginable for Christmas, the tradition here is for children to receive a brand new set of clothes. I therefore duly recorded the age and size of each child at Rachel’s, expecting to enlist the assistance of a salesperson in a Maputsoe clothing shop.
But suddenly there was a multitude of wash basins covering the lawn at Rachel’s
Makalo was an orphan at Rachel’s Children Home until August of this year when Jane (a prof at UBC) and her family adopted him and made him a part of their family in Canada. Jane and I decided to pool our resources to make sure that each of the remaining orphans at Rachel’s would receive a gift for Christmas. So two days after the clothes shopping expedition, I scoured the toy section at the local Shoprite, and managed to purchase something for each of the forty children. Returning on Christmas Eve to pick up candy bars, I found at least three dozen customers lined up in front of each cash register. One and a half hours I waited in line to pay the bill - now that’s either real dedication or pure stupidity!
My heart skipped a beat as I arrived at the orphanage on Christmas morning, seeing all the children proudly showing off their new outfits. They were quite overwhelmed at the appearance of all the toys - trucks, dolls, teddy bears, water guns, tea sets, and even helicopters. This was apparently the first time that some of them had received an actual toy for Christmas, and the smiles on their faces showed the pure joy they were experiencing. But perhaps of greatest impact on me was seeing the reaction of the fifteen to eighteen year old girls, to the dolls that I had purchased for them - against my better judgement, but according to Hilda’s advice. These teens were quite ecstatic, and assured me that they would be taking the dolls to bed with them that night. Imagine if they were to receive the gifts that teenagers in Canada expect - cell phones, i-pads, cameras, or even personal TVs. It boggles the mind!!
Ah, but Christmas would not be Christmas without the traditional turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes, would it? positively Africa, a small NGO in Victoria, kindly sent funds for a feast on Christmas day. Forget the turkey - a sheep was slaughtered and grilled over coals. Meanwhile, Mamosilo had been busy since early morning, preparing the vegetables and even dessert - a rare treat
As I left the orphanage six hours later, nothing had changed. Well, perhaps the children’s clothes weren’t quite as clean as earlier, and perhaps the cars and trucks had a scratch or two on them, and perhaps a few strands of doll hair had already fallen out......................but the smiles on the children’s faces were just as wide as they had been earlier in the day. They won’t forget this Christmas for a long time to come.