If Hopes and Prayers Are Birds..

.. the sky would be full of them today.

I always need a moment for myself after I visit the orphanage. To think, to feel, to remember and occasionally to nap (I’m sorry but it’s true!).

The ChoirWe had the first Christmas party at the orphanage today, for the children who live there. At the last count, there are 54 children and even after the many months, I still need to ask “Como te chama? Como se chama?” to 75% of them. There is Kin short for Joaquim the cheeky growing boy who suddenly acts as your personal bodyguard when he sees you carrying food but otherwise ignores your silly games because he’s not a kid anymore (and who still doesn’t know the numbers well). Then there is Tete, short for Teresa, who is just oozing sweetness, always the first to reach out to any new volunteers and offer a hug. Then there is Maria Jacinda, a 5 year old girl who can’t wait to be 6, who always chews some random things in her mouth, who had fungus-lookalike heat rashes the last I saw her. But today she showed me her rash-free arms and legs, saying “Creme!” (she was given some cream for her skin).

Orphanage 2
The children decorated the walls with their drawings. The choir sang songs and we had brownies and drinks.

OCSI Xmas Party Collage 2.jpg
The shoes fit, the flipflops were excellent. They love their new pillow cases and they immediately dressed up their Barbies.

Orphanage 5
Orphanage 6.jpg
It was humbling to say the least.

But my favourite part is the smiles and participation from (wait for it).. the drivers. K had the foresight to bring lots of Christmas hats that she distributed to all adults, including the drivers. And that little gesture brought them closer, like they were part of the Pai Natal team. The drivers usually wait outside the orphanage while we do our thing, but this time they came in and joined the party. While we were busy sorting the presents, the food, the drinks, they became the much-needed audience for the kids who were singing or reading a short poem. “Natal e paz, Natal e liberado, Natal e amor..” They dutifully clapped their hands and interacted with the children.

Cunha, my driver, wore his Christmas hat all the way home.

(all photos are courtesy of SL Campbell)

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