Picture 300 children celebrating Jesus' birth together. This is what Christmas was like at the Compassion child development centre Richmond Wandera attended. We caught up with Richmond to talk about how special Christmas is to him—especially when it included a card from his sponsor!
What was your first Christmas memory?
I have three distinct memories from different parts of my childhood: while my father was alive, after my father had passed, and after I joined Compassion.
When my father was still alive I remember running back home from church in my new clothes, ready for a Christmas meal that would be shared among 20 relatives.
After my father had passed away, I would sit by the roadside and watch as children walked past in their new ‘Christmas’ clothes with their parents.
When I joined Compassion, I remember walking home with a letter and Christmas gift from my sponsor. I had a singing card, I received food and I had a little extra to buy something beautiful.
Did you have a favourite Christmas gift?
A letter from my sponsor. I also enjoyed the singing card, stickers, and having money to buy food.
How important was receiving a Christmas card from your sponsor?
Very important. As a child, the Christmas card I received from my sponsor each year was the only card I received.
Have you kept any Christmas cards from your sponsor?
Yes, to this day.
As a sponsor now yourself, do you send Christmas cards to your sponsored children?
Yes! Now, I write a Christmas card every year to my sponsored children. I tell them about Jesus, how my year went with challenges and good experiences, how much I love them, and my dreams for them.
Did you have Christmas parties at your child development centre? If so, what did they involve?
Just think about 300 children coming together to both celebrate Christmas [and] look into the year and see how good God has been. There is a lot of singing, music, dance and drama.
It is on this same party day that most of the children who’d been rehearsing for three weeks would act out the whole nativity story. Parents would attend to watch their children show their talent.
A lot of food would be served at the centre which is a big deal. The Christmas gift is given a few days beforehand, so the children would have either bought some new clothing or found themselves something they desperately needed. So on this day they are swapping stories of what they received and how it impacted them.
It’s a day filled with a lot of energy, a lot of joy and laughter; it’s a day of celebration I’d say.
Were you ever involved in the plays?
Yes I was, I used to help train most of the other kids.
What did you train them in?
I was very involved in dance and drama. I also used to lead the Compassion choir. I was very involved in the organisation of this party.
What does Christmas mean to you?
Christmas is a time to stop and think about Christ and to act with Jesus’ love towards another person.
Christmas is a wonderful time to share the joy of Jesus’ birth and let your sponsored child know how much you care for them. Please give to our Christmas Appeal to help provide every child in Compassion’s programmes with a special gift this Christmas. Don’t forget to write a special Christmas card - they often become treasured possessions kept for many years!
Republished from Compassion Australia