The Spirit of Christmas

Christmas is a time in which we celebrate togetherness, joy and happy times with the ones we love; for the Americans, this usually starts from Thanksgiving. We often travel miles to a central location and reflect on the year and years before that. However not everyone can attest to this and are left alone for whatever reason. One such reason is that they are wards of the state.

On Saturday myself and fellow Optimists of the Royal Optimist Club of Kingston, took some of the children from the Glenhope Place of Safety to the Hope Zoo and Botanical Gardens.

The things we take for granted are what they appreciate.

We were excited that the day had finally arrived. While assisting the kids in getting dressed  I was  close to tears  when children ran up to me and said if the bus was outside, if we a go Zoo, one child who had burns on her skin looked and me and said she wanted to wear her dress and not the pants.

Let me take this time to say a big Thank You to the caregivers at the home, for all the work they have done and continue to do. Also to Ms Charmaine Williams and Ms Dorette Barnes, who helped with the children at the Zoo.  Providing care for children is never an easy task especially when they are separated from their homes for whatever reason.

On the way was even better, as they called the name for all the things they recognized and one little girl corrected everyone when they said “we a go get food” and said no “we going to the Zoo”.

Running ahead of us to get a better view, pulling us, asking for the Lion, getting the monkeys to move. Not to mention, “syving” down the place, eating ice cream and one who shouted hallelujah when he got his gift, were all the beautiful things we saw, heard, enjoyed being around these beautiful souls.

 

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Optimist Garvin Grandison telling the little one about the Zebras

 

I remembered in her speech as guest speaker for our Installation ceremony, Former Miss Festival Queen 2014 Anjell Bryan  said “volunteering is important and the best thing you can do for these kids is to SHOW UP”.

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Kiddies interacting with members of the JDF

Everyone there was willing to share the love they had received from their families to these children. You couldn’t help it, when you felt a child tug at your clothes or put their hand up to be lifted and feel how they hold on to you an refuse to go down when your hands are tired. I’m not implying that the parents are wrong for leaving them in the care of the state, because every child has a reason or why they are there.

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At the end of the day, why not spend the holidays with people who can’t go home to family? Who have no one to call on but the caregivers or people on the streets? Why not share your dinner with someone who is not family? Let them tell you about their stories and what they think Christmas means to them.

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Members of the Royal Optimist Club, South Circle and Caregivers of the home pose for a picture

 

 

*****Faces hidden to protect the identity of the children

My 5k Experience

This being my first time running for a cause, I wondered what to expect on such an important day, not only as a runner but also as a Respect Jamaica Youth ambassador. I was about to withdraw, because of some issues I had and said this in our whatsapp group.
However, my friend Neville would not have it and reassured me that I had nothing to worry about. On the day leading up to the event, I was amused at the vibe of the ambassadors there and later became relaxed and ready to do my part.
The fun didn’t stop as we all wanted to do the Fun Run and during that time, with the paint, the obstacles and the vibe being created among ourselves and with other participants , no one was left behind.The unfortunate part for me was the lack of water and persons started chanting “We Want Water” during to Fun Run.
I applaud Digicel for adding that aspect to the event as not only does it give people more options as to what they want to do. I believe it removes all doubt from your mind, that you would not be able to complete the 5k Fun Run.

What I’ve learnt form this experience is that unfortunately, we are not always constant as it relates to learning about persons with special needs. We miss out on the most important part which is that they are able to function just as the average human being.

This is why Respect Jamaica took part, as not only is it considered a phenomenon that we can create awareness on. However respect is required to help break barriers in understanding something new or unknown.

I’d want to do it again.