When you think of Christmas, there are so many things that come to mind, the aroma of freshly baked cake, beautifully wrapped presents under a big Christmas tree, mistletoe and so much more. Christmas is associated with giving and all of us look forward to this season, especially when it comes to unwrapping presents.
This year, we felt there was something more that had to be done to truly embrace the spirit of Christmas and understand what giving meant. On this note, we decided that the best kind of joy was not what we give unto ourselves, but what we give unto others. If you ever notice someone tearing open a present, there is always an element of childlike glee, and it this glee that cemented the decision to visit an orphanage.
Of course, collecting donations, assembling volunteers and organizing everything was not an easy task, but paled in comparison, to the task of finding the right orphanage. Our volunteers, worked hard (supplemented with pots of coffee of course) and we finally settled on ‘Khushi Rainbow Home for Girls’ an orphanage that was home to 100 girls and where we felt, we could bring the most joy to all the children.
Presents were packed, teams were assembled and the most critical bit (finding someone to be Santa Claus) was also completed without too much delay. Well, to be honest, we basically handed the Santa costume to a colleague and told him he had to be Santa. Amongst the volunteers, there were a few people who had visited orphanages before, but for most of us it was our first time, we weren’t even sure how the children would react to see such a large group of adults arrive in one fell swoop.
Our misgivings were completely unfounded, as we were soon to find out!
When we arrived, bags in tow, most of the children were just finishing their classes and were filtering out slowly. Our apprehension of the children being shy were put to rest as the kids rushed towards us, settling on favourites and leading them away to show them their favourite things or to show off their skills.
In a matter of minutes there were multiple activities going on, volunteers who were telling stories, some were singing and then there were some who were playing games with the children, which mostly meant chasing them around accompanied by shrieks of glee, when the children caught them.
After a while, it was time to bring out everyone’s favourite person during Christmas time, Santa! Santa came out to a screaming, shrieking crowd of fan girls, who were very observant and multiple tugs on Santa’s beard resulted in unmasking Santa.
After their initial excitement, there was a very orderly, yet excited line of girls who stood patiently, waiting for their picture opportunity with Santa and to be handed their present. Once the presents were unwrapped and the children were showing off what they got, it was time to bring out the cake. Yet again, there was an orderly line that was formed, only this time, most of the children were accompanied by their ‘favourite’ adult. Candles were lit, promptly blown out by the combined efforts of a multitude of little mouths and the cake was distributed to the children. Something that stood out and deeply touched everyone involved was the fact that, the first thing the children did was to offer portions of their pieces to all of us. This clearly showed us that these children who had so little, had the biggest hearts imaginable and their generosity was something that could not be matched.
The end of official visiting hours arrived sooner than we thought and lots of goodbyes, thank yous and farewell hugs were exchanged with the promise to see them again. We thought we would end this post with pictures of the delightful kids that lit up our day and also share some amazing personal experiences our volunteers had:
“I was touched by the fact that Deepa (a girl from the orphanage) introduced me to some of the other girls in the orphanage and she told me they were her sisters. There was no discrimination based on caste or religion” – Praveen Poonia, Senior Software Engineer
“…the fact that here we were not the ones who were actually trying to break the ice so that they could engage with us but rather it was the reverse. The children ran upto us to introduce themselves” – Anamika Singh, Senior Executive
“One child thanked me for the cake, told me that it was her first time eating cake this year and said it was yummy. That really touched a chord!” – Pulkit Dubey, Product Manager