Christmas 2012 Update!

We had our biggest Christmas yet in Cebu, thanks to incredible shoe box donations and a fantastic response to our Christmas Meal Appeal. In total £6163 was donated, plus gift aid! In addition to all this 6 Christmas parties also took place – Filipinos love to celebrate! And when Christmas technically begins in September, you know things are going to be big!

The season kicked off with a party at the jail for the minors. Some of these boys have been living in the same small cell for 3 years, with no idea when they may be released or moved to other centres. Despite being popular on the outside, now they are in jail they hardly ever get visits from any family or friends. That is why it was such a pleasure to give them a bit of joy this Christmas time. Our staff took gifts and food to the boys, as well as singing songs and playing party games. The boys had a marvellous time and appreciated every little bit.

The second party was the big one – the schooling party. 7 hours, 350 children plus mums, a hot meal for everyone, dancing, games and most importantly the giving of the shoe boxes! Every child received a box that was kindly donated by someone in the UK. The boxes contained clothes, toys and treats, as well as necessities to help the whole family. For most of these children those shoeboxes were the only presents they would receive, and there were smiles all round! The staff and volunteers worked tirelessly all day, as well as days of preparation before hand, but it was all worth it.

 

 

Then soon after that, it was the Source mums’ turn – these ladies know how to party! Over 180 women came to celebrate – our largest Source gathering to date! It was great to see how much the group had grown by the mums inviting along their friends and neighbours. Everyone had a fantastic time singing, dancing and eating!

That wasn’t it though! The next party was for the street kids. We love to spoil them and give them a day away from their regular lives where they can have fun and just be children. This year we took them to a local swimming pool where they could splash around and enjoy themselves all day! They had a superb lunch, festive games and shoebox presents. All the staff and children had an unforgettable time.

Party number 5 – the staff party. Oh yes! Our staff face tough and testing situations every day, yet they work so hard and tirelessly to help better the lives of the people we work with. At Christmas time we love to treat them (and their families) to thank them for the amazing work they do all year round – they truly do deserve it. This year the theme was purple, white and gold so everyone dressed to impress. Delicious food was eaten, dance presentations were given (as is customary in the Philippines) and presents were received through the Naughty Santa game! It was such a fun night to share with the Mercy in Action family.

The hard work however wasn’t over – the buckets of love still had to be prepared and handed out. Hours and hours were spent in the supermarket as 600 cans of corned beef, tinned fruit, packets of spaghetti and various other items were counted out and paid for. Then even more hours were ahead of packing up 600 buckets until they were overflowing with treats – thanks again to the staff and Source mums for doing such a fantastic job. Then the fun could start as hundreds descended upon Spring Village to collect their buckets. This really did transform Christmas for thousands of people across Cebu.

 

 

 

 

 

Last, but certainly not least, was the Christmas Eve party! Despite already joining in the schooling programme party and the staff party, our residential kids just had to have a party of their own as well! Filipinos celebrate Christmas as soon as the clock strikes midnight, so the children waited up for hours to open their presents. As well as stockings bursting with gifts, each child got an extra special present that they had asked for. It is so much fun to spoil these children who have been previously rejected and abandoned, and see them so happy and settled in families. For the boys in the new home, it was their first Christmas off the streets, and they had an incredible time.

Thank you to all of you in the UK who made this achievable. It really is impossible to express what a huge difference your donations make to peoples’ lives in Cebu. We are thrilled to have you supporting us, and to be able to celebrate such a bumper year with such an amazing Christmas! Here’s to the next one (once the staff have had a bit of a rest) …
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