Making Christmas meaningful
For many children in the developed world and big cities in the developing world, Christmas is a season of beautiful memories. Memories of gifts, going out to have fun in malls, delicious meals, new clothes, toys, and the list can go on and on. This is on top of so many other privileges they have including schooling in the best schools and having well-furnished bedrooms. Well, not all children enjoy all these. Here in Simanjiro, many children have only one incomplete meal per day, sleep 10 or more in one small room with no light, and on a bed made of cow skin, and attend public schools where in many instances up to 200 of them share a classroom. For them, Christmas is just as ordinary as any other day. While boys are going after livestock girls are helping with fetching water and firewood. Apart from missing out on festivities that other children have, many of them are denied their basic rights such as education. Even worse, girls are sold off to adults and even old men as second, third, or fourth wives when they are still as young as ten years of age.
Since the last year 2021, we started Pontifical Childhood Singing completion in our Parish, whereby we gather children from all our 30 stations. We use this platform to give children a moment to celebrate being children and beautiful moments to remember when they grow up.
The refrain of the song was about the meaning and values of the Pontifical Childhood Pastoral group. “Pontifical Childhood is a pastoral group that brings children together and teaches them good Christian values”. The verses were: 1) The group gives children the opportunity to achieve self-awareness and be responsible in Christ, 2) The group helps to fight against child abuse in our society, and 3) Prayer to God for parents and caretakers to bring up their children in good values.
Just like we do with the adult choir completions, every year we go to a different station. Despite the heavy rains that pounded on Christmas eve, 20 stations managed to bring their children some from as far as 70 Kilometers away. First, we had a Mass outside that was led by children’s choirs from different stations. Immediately after mass, there was a heavy downfall that went on for about an hour. We all squeezed inside the Church. After the rain subsided we continue with the singing completion.
A total of 863 children took the stage to present their interpretation of the song all of them dressed in pontifical colours – white and yellow. The biggest choir had 88 children. We had two judges who adjudicated the performance and gave marks based on: how they entered the floor, the dress, the conductor, the singers themselves, and how they finished and left the flour. Each of the two adjudicators give his own marks and the average of the two made up the final school.
The winner and runners-up carried home a big trophy and the third place settled for Pontifical Childhood rosaries. All the participants also got a roll-pop candy.
We have already seen how this competition is raising the spirit of our children. We believe that the long-term transformation will be as beautiful as the memories that these children will grow up with.
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