our school conducts a program that helps poor children from elementary public schools every december. we,students, will make the children happy by giving them toys and celebrate a 4-hour party where we'll feed them fastfood(which probably they rarely experience) and play games. different schools are assigned to each year level. our principal says its our little way of making them happy for christmas. in our country we call it "handugan" which means "giving" (i think) if translated in english.
for the last four years that i've participated, i took handugan immaturely and thought that it was just an excuse to keep us from our classes. but this year is somewhat, should i say, extraordinary? it's pretty different from the other handugan for last four years. i realized what "handugan" really means.
the handugan took place in our building's 1st floor which is open and spacey. it has enough space for 40 children to play. we put christmas decorations around the room and prepared the gifts and foods. we seniors are assigned in a certain public school near our place. the party started when the children came. some looked shy. some looked like he has done this before. but, they all have one thing in common-- all of them looked sloppy. their uniforms seemed that it hasnt been washed for days. some wore black shoes, while other only wore slippers that looked like it had been chewed by a dog. they went in the room with curious little faces. they quietly sat in the chairs which we arranged in circularly around the room. my batchmates gave them a warm welcome. we started by playing a game which will give them energy because they are noticably sleepy. we gave them ice cream and cotton candies. while waiting for th official party to start, we individually started a conversation to some of them to make them feel more welcome. i notice a quiet girl sitting on the rear side. "abigail" is her name acoording to her nametag.
"hi abigail." i flashed her a smile which she didnt see because she just bowed down her head.
"which grade level do you belong?"... she rise her head and looked at me. "grade 1."
"how old are you?" she again bowed her head and whispered "12."
so. this 12 year old girl which is still in grade 1 gave me the feeling of luckiness because of the life i have now. if there's just something i could do to help.
"what do you want to be when you grow up?" she shook her head. i was not surprised.
"what are your hobbies and likes?"
"dancing." then, i was surprised. i told her that she can be a dancer and i called some of my batch mates who are good in dancing. they can teach her more skills in dancing.. she just bowed again and looked even more shy.
then we were interrupted because the official party was about to start. we played lots of games which is so fun even for us. i just love seeing them smile and laugh. then when it's time to eat, we distributed jollibee meals and juices to them. (jollibee is a famous fast food chain here in philippines. it's like mcdonalds." they chowed down and obviously, they looked hungry.
my batchmates and i noticed that some of the children arent eating. they kept their meals in plastics and just drank their juices. we asked why arent they eating, they just answered:
"we'll just take these home and share it with my family."
they touched our hearts. it was so unbelievably to face the truth of what poor life they live in but they still care for each other.
then it's time to say goodbye, we waved at them and saw their happy faces. somewhat, a little thing we have done gave their christmas more happiness. there i realized that the smiles of these children are what i consider a priceless treasure.