With Spring on its way it might seem a strange time to be writing about Christmas! However, connections formed at the 2015 Viva Christmas Parties in several regions of India have impacted the lives of vulnerable children well beyond the yuletide season.
The occasion provided a total of 2,800 Indian children with a Christmas party to remember; for some it was their first-ever experience of such an exciting event. Local churches and organisations worked together to arrange food, games, stories, singing, plays and special gifts for local children.
In Patna, nearly 700 children were reached by the network, and offered a breakfast, hot lunch and an incredible magic show with dancing and singing. One grateful mum said, “Our family is so poor… today I ate good food. I thoroughly enjoyed it.”
These vulnerable children were offered love and care and for some they heard the Christmas story for the first time. The party also gave new organisations in the network, the opportunity to become connected.
In particular, the Shelter Mission, which works with children in very rural settings, was delighted to become part of the network and now no longer feels they are working alone but have the support of local churches and organisations.
Other parties used a theme to encourage a sense of self-worth and confidence. In Bangalore they used the theme ‘Princes and Princesses of God’ to promote the message that every child is special. Over 250 children were given a gift of a jumper in a bag, plus juice and a chocolate bar, and were made to feel cared for and loved.
The network, which worked hard to provide this all-day party, were delighted that more churches demonstrated an interest in joining them in their work to reach children at risk.
The Delhi network invited the churches from the Gurgoan area to work together to organise a Christmas party for 150 children. These churches mainly focus on running much needed tuition centres and non-formal education centres for Delhi’s many slum children.
The parties gave the churches the opportunity to work together and it was a very successful party with the children thoroughly enjoying themselves. One teacher said, “It was very exciting to see the joy on the faces of our children when they perform through songs and acts”.
The parties organised by the churches in Dehradun and Ranchi saw an increase in their number of volunteers and are now preparing to offer these volunteers more training with the purpose of ‘reaching children with God’s love through the help of various churches and organisations.’
The network in Shillong was able to make connections with children at risk and are also now looking to invest in more training and collaboration with other churches and organisations.
Looking forward to the 2016 Christmas Parties – with growing links between churches and organisations forming – it is hoped that even more of India’s most vulnerable children can be reached, and offered care and support.
Here’s what some of the children who attended Viva Christmas Parties around the world in 2015 had to say about the experience…