Christmas – the very mention of the word brings to mind images of Santa Claus and candy canes, Christmas trees and beautiful wreaths, cake and wine and loads to dine. But in all the merriment and enjoyment, do we ever stop to think of those less fortunate than we are? The true “Christmas spirit” that makes one more selfless, more friendly, more kind and generally, more nicer. This year, Living C.L.A.Y. looked at Christmas as an opportunity to spread the Christmas cheer and brighten the lives of 21 young girls in Makkala Jeevodhaya.
Preparations began early on, with shopping for sweaters, stationery, bangles, chocolates – things that would bring a smile on any little girl’s face; meeting up after work and on weekends to practice carols and action songs. The beautiful Sunday dawned clear and bright, we couldn’t have wished for a more amazing start. Carrying our gifts and beaming with joy, we entered the gates of “Makkala Jeevodaya”. This place is home to young girls who’ve been rescued from the red-light areas. The sisters who run the home aim to provide each girl with the ability to fend for herself and to lead a life of dignity. They have a strong track record, having rehabilitated over 586 women and girl children, with 50 women now married and settled, 17 women professionally trained, well-prepared to face the future.
We had visited the place 2 years ago, but we did not expect the children there to remember us. So we were in for a pleasant surprise when they not just recognized us and also inquired about the members of the group who weren’t there for this visit. We sang carols and action songs, followed by introductions for the benefit of the new ones. Those who were initially shy and reclusive, soon warmed up to the other and in no time at all the whole group and kids seemed like a family having fun together, playing, shouting, singing, screaming and clapping. The girls enthusiastically showed us their dance performances that had won them accolades at school. With ear-to-ear grins and enthusiastic leaps, they pounced on each other’s balloons during the game of balloon bursting, and pop-pop-pop went the balloons.
But what’s Christmas without Santa, right? To the merry tune of Jingle Bells, Santa Ho-Ho-Hoed his way in, bearing balloons, gifts and chocolates for all the kids. The squeals of joy and delight were reward enough for us. A small cake cutting ceremony ensued and we all gathered in the dining rooms to gorge on delicious plum cake, chips and soft drinks. As we watched the little kids savour the cake and chips, we felt a glow, the spirit of Christmas slowly spreading its warmth through all of us.
Tired yet content as we looked at the gleaming eyes of the elated girls, we trudged our way back with a sense of accomplishment, the glow of Christmas now radiating through us.