Christmas ! …
Under the snow, at the corner of a wood fire, around a Christmas tree, accompanied by a good meal, surrounded by one’s family … Such a picture should look familiar!
This picture, the street children cannot even dream of it.
Christmas time is quite different for Joshua, Alélie, Ricardo, Angela and all the street children of Manila.
Of course, they have no idea what snow looks like. Of course, a wood fire is much less useful when it is 30 ° in December. Of course, from their point of view, a dish of stolen spaghetti is a treat. Of course, all their fellow street people are considered as their brothers.
But, they never tasted the magical spirit of Christmas we all know.
Yet, in the Philippines, Christmas is all around as early as September. Following the American tradition, store windows are filled with reindeer, elves and other “Santa Claus”, Christmas carols can be heard in every mall, houses are full of tacky ornaments, Christmas trees grow everywhere …
Nevertheless, far from these rejoicings, street children keep wandering and begging endlessly in the gloomy avenues of Manila. For Christmas, they can only hope for a few extra coins.
At the foundation, everything is done to let our beneficiaries live this time as any regular kid. Every center decorates its tree, hangs its crown, enjoys Advent season, prepares the Christmas Party gathering all our little ones, experiences a rising excitement as the days of December pass. Christmas gives rise to many festivities: a joyful gathering, good food, gifts for everyone. We are particularly careful about it, even if we do not mean to offer anything sumptuous. Anyway, simply tearing up a well-packaged gift is a real luxury to them.
Materially and spiritually, we try to give to our children everything they need to be contented.
However, the essential part lies elsewhere.
These children have only few ties with their relatives, with those who left them. The abandonment they suffered is a sharp wound that will never heal. They may be able to cope with it, or even to turn it into strength. But the truth is that, on Christmas Eve, their new brothers and sisters of ANAK-Tnk will hardly alleviate the suffering resulting from the absence of their blood family.
So before all the wonderful festivities ahead, let us not forget to think of all those for whom Christmas goes hand in hand with poverty rather than kinship, with suffering rather than rejoicing.