Celebrating Christmas with the Children

Trip Start Jan 20, 2004
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Lesotho  ,
Saturday, December 25, 2010

Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house.........no, we’d better back up a week.

Twas the week before Christmas, and Sharon was still hobbling around because of that stupid sprained ankle. Thoughts of my proposed  trip to South Africa to purchase Christmas gifts for the orphans became too onerous, so I decided to make do with what Lesotho had to offer. While North American children dream of every toy imaginable for Christmas, the tradition here is for children to receive a brand new set of clothes. I therefore duly recorded the age and size of each child at Rachel’s, expecting to enlist the assistance of a salesperson in a Maputsoe clothing shop.

But suddenly there was a multitude of wash basins covering the lawn at Rachel’s.  Except for those aged three and under, the orphans were stripping unabashedly in order to bathe themselves in preparation for a shopping expedition. Whoa - this was a bit more than I had signed up! Taking two or three children shopping the week before Christmas is daunting enough, but imagine walking into a shop with more than two dozen little ones in tow. Each of them was looking for a pair of summer sandals, pants/skirt, and a shirt/t-shirt. Thank goodness Hilda, one caregiver, and three of the teenaged orphans were there to keep chaos at a minimum. Two hours later, the children were sitting on the curb outside of the shop, happily sipping their bags of frozen guava juice, and content in the knowledge that they too would have something new to wear for Christmas.

Makalo was an orphan at Rachel’s Children Home until August of this year when Jane (a prof at UBC) and her family adopted him and made him a part of their family in Canada. Jane and I decided to pool our resources to make sure that each of the remaining orphans at Rachel’s would receive a gift for Christmas. So two days after the clothes shopping expedition, I scoured the toy section at the local Shoprite, and managed to purchase something for each of the forty children. Returning on Christmas Eve to pick up candy bars, I found at least three dozen customers lined up in front of each cash register. One and a half hours I waited in line to pay the bill - now that’s either real dedication or pure stupidity!!

My heart skipped a beat as I arrived at the orphanage on Christmas morning, seeing all the children proudly showing off their new outfits. They were quite overwhelmed at the appearance of all the toys - trucks, dolls, teddy bears, water guns, tea sets, and even helicopters. This was apparently the first time that some of them had received an actual toy for Christmas, and the smiles on their faces showed the pure joy they were experiencing. But perhaps of greatest impact on me was seeing the reaction of the fifteen to eighteen year old girls, to the dolls that I had purchased for them - against my better judgement, but according to Hilda’s advice. These teens were quite ecstatic, and assured me that they would be taking the dolls to bed with them that night. Imagine if they were to receive the gifts that teenagers in Canada expect - cell phones, i-pads, cameras, or even personal TVs. It boggles the mind!!

Ah, but Christmas would not be Christmas without the traditional turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes, would it? positively Africa, a small NGO in Victoria, kindly sent funds for a feast on Christmas day. Forget the turkey - a sheep was slaughtered and grilled over coals. Meanwhile, Mamosilo had been busy since early morning, preparing the vegetables and even dessert - a rare treat. The children’s plates were lined up on the floor, and each was heaped with servings of  rice, chicken, squash, beetroot and carrots.......quite a change from the everyday papa. It didn’t take long for those plates to be licked clean, and while the older ones washed them up, the younger ones rushed back to their toys.

As I left the orphanage six hours later, nothing had changed. Well, perhaps the children’s clothes weren’t quite as clean as earlier, and perhaps the cars and trucks had a scratch or two on them, and perhaps a few strands of doll hair had already fallen out......................but the smiles on the children’s faces were just as wide as they had been earlier in the day. They won’t forget this Christmas for a long time to come.

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Chris on

Sharon thanks for sharing your Christmas story! I am passing this link along to my friends! Happy New Year...

Doreen and Anthony O'Sullivan on

Thanks for sharing this lovely story.
God Bless and all the best in 2011.
I hope that your ankle improves.

Doreen and Anthony

Frank and Tanja on

What a lovely and cheerfull story! We adopted our son Paseka in November from Hilda's home and are very pleased to read and see that the children (and Hilda) is getting such a nice christmas.
Makolo was/is a friend of Paseka.

Keep up the good work and God Bless you.

Frank, Tanja kiki and Paseka

Judy Durjancik on

It is so very heartening to see the spirit of Christmas alive and well.

May Joy,Health and Peace be with you all in 2011.


Almonte, ON

sue lewis on

Wonderful Sharon. I was blessed to read of your experience. God is good - all the time.

abigail amos - I'm also 'M'eMathabo Khethisa Tau on

I think we may know each other from some time ago at Phelisanong above Pitseng. I know Hilda and Rachels, and so much enjoyed your photographs. If you would like the contact please ask Su Russell for my email address. It was she who told me about you at Rachels. Hope to hear from you, with best wishes from 'M'eMathabo.

hil (Bugs) on

so glad to catch up with your adventures. How is the ankle, and what about the other problem they were trying to get to the bottom of?
Take care, love Hil

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