What was your first Christmas memory?
I have two very vivid but distinct memories of Christmas.
The first is a memory of never knowing Christmas. I saw that there was some days during the year which were characterised by materialism and self-indulgence. But for me and my family there wasn’t a day when we were having a special meal. Instead, there were days when we had no meal. There wasn’t a day when I was wearing nice clothes, or going out with family and friends. I remember my parents feeling helpless and a failure because of that. I remember being confused why we were the ones who didn't deserve a day of celebration.
The second is my experience of Christmas after I became a part of a church community and the Compassion project. It’s one my fondest memories of my childhood. I remember receiving presents from the Compassion project. There was singing and dancing and everyone was so happy. I remember my parents being excited about the special dinner being provided at the project and at the church. I remember celebrating it with my whole family.
Most importantly, I remember learning why we were celebrating. The best gift ever given to us from our Father in heaven filled me and my family with joy and hope.
Did you have Christmas parties at your Compassion project? If so, what did they involve?
Oh yes, we partied. We partied like there was no pain, no sorrow, no sadness, only life full of joy, hope and peace. All the teachers and the children would work for weeks to put together a show to celebrate Christmas. We would decorate the entire project with lights, balloons and crafts. There were stage plays, songs and dance performances. The project director would bring us a message on Christmas.
We were each given a gift from our sponsor. We would all eat together at the end of the show and then sit together to open our presents. It was a day we waited for the whole year. It was a day we felt loved, valued and cared for.
What did you tend to eat at the party at your project?
We had a fancy three course meal! We would have chicken or lamb for mains and ice cream and chocolates for dessert. We also had fizzy drinks. I remember having lemonade for the first time and doing a non-stop burp. I was quite confused and a bit terrified!
How important was receiving a Christmas card from your sponsor?
It made me feel very special because I knew somebody far away was thinking about me and praying for me. I felt my life was precious just as God says in Bible. There were times when that was the only Christmas card I would get.
As a sponsor now yourself, are your sending a Christmas card to your sponsored child?
Absolutely, I know the massive and lasting impact it will have on my sponsored child. I know what it will mean to her and how it will make her feel. I will write her a card to tell her how precious she is to God.
What does Christmas mean to you?
Christmas for me is an experience of abundant joy and comfort, a time to stop and remind ourselves about the great price Jesus paid for our lives. Christmas to me means letting others experience the love that I received when Jesus loved me.
Looking back, I want to thank my sponsor and Compassion for giving me the true experience of Christmas.