From Hardship to Happiness at Christmas Time

Before coming to NPH, Christmas was a time of hardship for one young adult. Now, she helps others feel an abundance of love and caring at NPH Peru.
December 13, 2019 - Peru

Anel receives her Christmas present from Santa Claus.

The happiness of our children is a key priority at NPH. Therefore, Christmas is an important event on the calendar, not just to celebrate the birth of Jesus, but also to share love and express our gratitude: cornerstones on the pathway to happiness.

Anel arrived at NPH Peru in 2006 when she was 5 years old. It was the first time she had experienced Christmas. Coming from a situation of dire poverty, she didn't understand what it meant to feel the Christmas spirit. Her parents used whatever resources they could to make this time of year special, but putting food on the table was difficult, let alone giving a gift.

Some 13 years later, Anel is now 18 and an experienced member of our home. Whereas caregivers used to do their best to make her Christmas special, today she does her part to spread happiness throughout the NPH family, which means preparing the NPH Peru home for Christmas.

"Of course, Christmas activities begin in December! We start by decorating the main dining room. A few years ago, we began a contest to see which casita is the most beautifully decorated home. It gets very competitive!" laughs Anel.

Anel's favorite activity is the chocolatada. It is a "sweet" event, as one can guess from the name, where different institutions, companies, or groups of people visit the NPH home to share hot chocolate and panetton (a sweet bread with a dried fruit filling), a traditional Peruvian Christmas food.

"They also bring gifts, like dolls, balls, and toy cars," adds Anel. "The children go crazy, but they are also grateful."

During some chocolatada visits, the visitors hold workshops for the children.

“Once we were visited by a group that helped us make cards. Later, each person put their card in a box for someone else to pick out, while also picking out one for themselves. It doesn't matter if we might not get along. That makes the activity more beautiful because that way we can show each person a little love,” Anel tells us.

First thing on Christmas day at the home, the children attend Mass. The dining room is ready for dinner and presents are placed next to the Nativity and the Christmas tree.

"At 12 p.m., the children hug each other and Santa comes to deliver the gifts," laughs Anel. “The little ones have a lot of fun trying to guess who is dressed up as Santa. It's nice to see them enjoy the day so much.”

Christmas carols are played throughout the night and each home takes turns singing one, so they spend many days practicing. Anel's favorite Peruvian Christmas carol is "Cholito Jesús," which is sung by a group of children called "Los Toribianitos."

"The song is important to me as it shows how the birth of Jesus is adapted to Peruvian traditions and highlights the typical dress of the country," she explains.

"The last three years we have received money during Christmas to purchase new clothes." Anel knows this and other activities in the home are possible thanks to our sponsors.

Being able to enjoy these activities with her NPH siblings makes it her favorite season of the year. “It's something out of the ordinary. Every activity we do in December, we enjoy more as a family,” says Anel.

Interested in supporting children like Anel celebrate Christmas? Contact your local NPH office to find out how.

Scarleth Mendieta   
Communications Officer

You may be only one person in the world, but you may be all the world to one child.
—Fr. William Wasson




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