Blog > From the Directors Kids In Critical Need Education Events > Witnessing the True Christmas Spirit by one of our Kids in Critical Need

Thursday, December 18, 2014
Witnessing the True Christmas Spirit by one of our Kids in Critical Need

Despite working with impoverished families in Guatemala for over twenty years, every now and then I still have those moments where I am taken aback and stop in my tracks in awe. 

Last night, I watched as little Emmanuel, one of the boys who we are looking after as part of our Kids in Critical Need Program and whose nickname is Sammy) showed his true Christmas spirit despite a difficult year, to say the least. 
Sammy lives with his 15-year-old sister, Blanca, and his 8-year-old brother, Melvin, in a small house in Panajachel. Unfortunately, their mother married another man who initially said the children could live with them, but whose extended family forbid it. The children then went to seek refuge with their mother's extended family but again, it was not allowed. With nowhere to go, they came to us. We took them in and have since been providing them with basic housing in a safe compound where other Mayan Families staff members live. 
Since they are without parents or an older caregiver, they are essentially raising themselves. 
We welcome them to our offices every day where they can have hot meals, and we facilitate them going to school. We also work to ensure their basic needs are taken care of as best as we can. But this does not take the place of family, and I can only imagine the void is especially felt during special times like Christmas. 
Blanca, Melvin and Sammy enjoying a hot lunch as part of our Kids in Critical Need Program
The other night, Sammy stayed late with many of the staff at the office to help pack upChristmas presents for kids in a nearby village. We were scouring the storage room trying to find any donated toys that had been overlooked, and we happened upon a small artificial Christmas tree that was broken in half. It really should have been thrown out and not stored, but somehow just got packed away. We grabbed it and set it oustide for the garbagemen to pick up and take away. 
Later that evening, Sammy walked up to me with the broken Christmas tree in his arms and earnestly asked if he could have it. I said of course, but reminded him that it was broken - perhaps giving him a naturally confused look. Nevertheless, I watched him walk out of the office with an ear-to-ear smile, carrying his broken, bedraggled tree like a special prize. It really made me stop in my tracks and I just watched as this small, sweet, skinny 12-year-old boy took his Christmas spirit home to share with his sister and brother. 
We are happy to say that Sammy and his siblings will be spending the holiday with one of our staff members this Christmas, and will enjoy the treats and traditions like any normal Guatemalan child should at this time of year.  
But we still have many children who do not have a simple toy or a Christmas Tamale Basket to enjoy with their families this Christmas. You can help change this by donating just $40 for a large basket of nutritious foods, filled with the ingredients to make a traditional tamale.  
Simply click on this link: and put "2014 Christmas Tamale Basket"into your shopping cart. If you have a particular student you would like to donate to, kindly enter in their ID# where indiciated; otherwise, let us know you would like to donate the basket to a family in need. 
Thank you for your support and for making it possible for us to help children like Sammy who otherwise might be on the streets this Christmas. 


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