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