Christmas Presents For Slum Kids
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The Day After Christmas | Christmas Day Celebrations With The Kids | Giving Out Presents On Christmas Eve | Photos Of Children On Christmas Eve | Christmas Preparations | Donations And Donations In Kind | Child Asking For Help | Children’s Day Party

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The Day After Christmas, Mapusa, Goa

Some of the children who recieved gifts and fruit during the Christmas festivities
Some of the children who recieved gifts and fruit during the Christmas festivities

Christmas Day was exhausting but there was still more work to do. Ishita who also helps street children made contact a couple of weeks ago and had organised a few bubble sticks to be added to the presents. Some of the families she helps sell cheap toys on the streets, and she purchased the bubbles from them to give to other children.

We had already given out the majority of the presents and only had a handful left so after waking up a little late we started setting out another 50 parcels. The spare room was once again turned into Santa's workshop, the floor had 25 pink and 25 silver bags laid out with the normal goodies placed on them. When Ishita arrived there were still lots to do and it took at least another hour to get everything ready for packing. By early afternoon we had managed to get the 50 extra presents wrapped.

Ishita had a car so we made use of it (thanks Ishita!), the car was packed with the freshly wrapped presents and another 12+ presents that had been wrapped for our educational children who had missed the party on Christmas Day.

Our first stop was the recycling area which gave us chance to take a peek at the children living rough on the stony area behind, next to the dried up river. We had already given there on Christmas Eve but as all these children/families come and go there was a different set of children today.

We gave out all the educational children's presents and quickly finished off the presents we wrapped today. All the children received an orange and pear along with presents. There was still a box of fruit left and we headed back to the children near the recycling area and gave out most of the remaining fruit to the children living next to the river. As always the children were so welcoming and thankful for such a little gift.

I would like to thank Ishita for all her help and everyone else who made the gifts possible. The Christmas celebrations are now over and so it is time to start preparations for the coming year. Wishing you all a Happy New Year.

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Christmas Day Celebrations With The Kids, Mapusa, Goa

The Children Had a little snack in the morning before receiving their Christmas Presents.
The Children Had a little snack in the morning before receiving their Christmas Presents.

Christmas day was going to be a slightly crazy day as 60 – 70 children (plus a few parents) would descend on us ready to be entertained. What have we let ourselves in for! It was an early start as we prepared the rooms and balcony for the children, two rooms were cleared out giving the children lots of space and the large balcony was cleaned and most was done when Ekanath, one of the older boys arrived at 8am to help. The boy kindly offered the day before so we both took a trip into Mapusa to collect some extra fruit and a box full of piping hot samosa's and bread which had been ordered the day before. Once back we went out again to add some air to the 3 remaining footballs which still needed to be wrapped. We managed to find somewhere open even though it was Christmas morning.

After wrapping the last few presents, we prepared our first game which would be 'Pass the Parcel'. It was decided to cheat a little and not wrap anything up, instead we would print out a list of prizes and a few 'sorry' papers cut them up and put them into a jar. So instead of un- wrapping a layer of paper, they would just pick out a prize from the jar. It made life a lot easier and it was a quick and easy game to play. The children were expected at 10, but by then no one had arrived ...... and just as we started to worry the first three children arrived. We gave them a drink and put on a cartoon for them to watch, 3 minutes later a few more came and then a steady stream of children arrived. After 10 minutes nearly all the children had arrived plus a few extra ones. Sadly, these children were asked to leave as all the children we would be giving out to today had named presents and there were no extras.

The children received refreshments and had a choice of films to watch and then pass the parcel started and kept the children entertained. Ekanath was a great help on the day and took charge of pass the parcel and a couple of the parents helped with the music department. Time rushed by and we brought all the children in for lunchtime snacks; fruit, drink, samosa’s and bread and then by 1pm we started giving out the presents.

There seemed to be a LOT of presents, each child received two presents, one main one and one goodie bag. All the presents were in large boxes and as we dragged them through the children’s eye lit up with glee. 5 large boxes of sparkling presents certainly got their attention. One of the older girls, Anvarshi offered a helping hand to give them out, each present had a name written on it and most of the time it went smoothly until I remembered there are a few children with the same name! But it was all sorted out in the end. There were only two children who didn’t like their presents, one older boy getting a cricket bat and ball for his main present and the other getting a football. But everything worked out as they were both very happy to swap - Hey presto! Sorted - Thank goodness!

As soon as they received their presents they were eager to get home and open them. Most of the younger children headed home with older siblings/parents and a few of the older children helped clear up, which was a relief. Budmanti, Anvarshi and Modimbi all helped out, thank you girls! A few of the younger children were given a lift home with their large presents in large rice sacks.

As an extra thank you to the girls who helped clear up, two were given bunny ears and the third chose an outfit that she liked all of which were donated the day before by Amika.

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Giving Out Presents On Christmas Eve, Mapusa, Goa

Christmas Gifts Being Giving to Street Children in India
Christmas Gifts Being Giving to Street Children in India

By the morning of Christmas Eve we had wrapped around 300 presents. It was a great accomplish- ment and we thought it would be good to distribute as many as possible before the madness of Christmas day.

The day started quite leisurely with 30+ presents and fruit being loaded onto the bike for the first trip out to the slums. The children are getting more spread out each year as the families are pushed from one site to another. Although annoying for the families it does helps us as that means smaller more manageable pockets, which in turn makes it easier to give out items like presents which are very sought after.

The first area we visited had just 10 children, three of the children are part of our educational project so they would be receiving their presents on Christmas day, the rest lined up and it just took a few minutes to hand out the presents and fruit. There was time for a few photos before we headed off to the next area. The children were well behaved and as we progressed through the day, five small areas had been visited and around 100 presents given, oranges and pears. While we visited we reminded the children of the party the next day, which we thought we better do as we didn't give presents to the children who we help with education who would receive their special presents the next day at the party.

There were a couple of babies in several of the areas, and it was decided to make 'baby presents' that were more useful to their mothers. Some included baby mats and mosquito enclosures as well as baby soap, talcum powder and small baby rattles and toys. It had been a tiring and demanding day but it felt good to have distributed so many items. As evening came, the few remaining presents that would be needed for the next day were wrapped, and so to an early night.

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Photos Of Children On Christmas Eve, Mapusa, Goa

A few photos from the first day of giving out presents on Christmas Eve. We managed to give out around 100 wrapped Christmas Presents and 200 pieces of fruit.

A Girl Holiding Present Tightly
Boy Holding Fruit And Christmas Present
Boy Holding Fruit And Looking Up
Boy Holding Presents In Slum
Boy Standing In Passage With Fruit
Girl Holding Present Peaking Through
Slum Child With Punch Balloon
Street Child With Gifts
Young Girl Holding Christmas Presents And Fruit
Young Girl With Baby
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Christmas Preparations, Mapusa, Goa

Christmas Gifts Wrapped In Preperation for Giving Out to Street and Slum Children
Christmas Gifts Wrapped In Preperation for Giving Out to Street and Slum Children

Christmas is always a busy time for us and our preparations start as soon as the previous years' celebrations finish as we try and give out to as many children as possible. It takes quite a lot of stock to make a few hundred children's wishes come true. Last year we managed over 700 wrapped Christmas presents in the end, but this year there was less stock to work with so we were only able to give out around 350 wrapped presents. Three hundred and fifty is still a respectable amount, but it did mean we could only give out to those closest to us and we didn't make it down to Margao as we had done in previous years. Hopefully we will get the chance to give gifts next year.

All the presents contained a collection of small items. This enables the presents to be equalled out more easily and makes for a more fulfilling gift so when first opened lots of small goodies pour out. This year as well as the basic health items (Soap, Shampoo, Toothpaste and Brush) there was a selection of sweets (tic- tacs, lollipops, chocolate bar and polo mints), mango juice carton, fruit (large orange and pear), Balloons (Thanks to everyone who donated the last minute balloons!!) and that's even before getting onto the toys and presents.

Donated items come in all shapes and sizes so some of the presents had one large item with a couple of smaller toys, another might have 4 or 5 smaller toys. We do try and make all the presents as similar as possible and of course as good as possible.

The sorting and wrapping for the Christmas presents started just 2 weeks before Christmas and to be honest I think a week earlier would have been ideal. The first on the list of jobs is getting out all the toys we have received during the year and start planning what will do in each present and thinking about what extra items we need to buy to fill the presents out.

The next laborious task is making all the Christmas bags. We are big believers in making the Christmas presents special, and we could wrap the presents in plastic bags or newspaper, but we like to go the extra mile and have proper Christmas wrapping paper, there's nothing better to get the children excited than a large heap of colourful presents gleaming away. Thankfully a local shop sells a large bundle of wrapping paper for around &2.50 (250Rs) which is enough to make 150+ Christmas bags. Each sheet is cut in half to make two smaller sheets that are folded and glued/taped to make two bags, a long process but worth it due to the extra big smile on Christmas day.

Once the bags are ready it is just a matter of filling them, this again takes more time than you would think. A room is emptied and turned into the Christmas workshop, a grid of bags is placed on the floor (quick tip -make sure no one puts the fan on at this point!!!), once the bags are placed in a grid of around 50 at a time, each item is then placed on the bags, 50 mango juices, then chocolate, then tic- tacs, over and over again until there is a fantastic pile of goodies on each bag.

This year we had help from the Yoga ladies (Jane, Sam and Brigid) who came the week before Christmas to help with the packing. It was a relief to have a bit of help, Jane also very kindly bought lots of stocking fillers which made the presents even more appealing. They returned on a second day and we wrapped around 120 presents in total.

Thank you to everyone who donated, especially those who donated the balloons just before Christmas (Penny, Dave & Vivienne, Amika and husband), without your help Christmas would not have been so special!

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Donations And Donations In Kind, Panjim, Goa

A Sample of the new school bags ready for the next school year starting in June
A Sample of the new school bags ready for the next school year starting in June

All of the work we do is only possible due to the supporters we have, they help in many different ways, sometimes its just a matter of hitting like on Facebook or by sending a supportive message, others donate their possessions, we have received lots of good quality second hand clothes in the last couple of months. Others love to buy items and bring them over, most of which are used as stocking fillers for presents, or to support the children in education. Then there are those who volunteer their time or give financial help towards the work we do. However you like to help, we really do appreciate it and thank you all for making the work we do possible. Below are a few mentions from people who have helped out in the last month.

Smiley Face tennis balls
Smiley Face from tennis balls

David Spector, David visited Goa for the first time last month and found out about our work and very kindly offered to bring a bang full of tennis balls. The timing was great and they are being included with the cricket bats for Christmas.

Alison Would, Alison kindly brought over a couple of bags of small items including hair bobbles, finger puppets and vitamins. The vitamins are already being used and the other small items are being added to the Goodie Bags for Christmas. Thank You!

Lisa Kirisits, Lisa kindly funded a large collection of toys which are currently being wrapped up for Christmas. As well as the Christmas presents she also supported the Education fund by paying for school fees and buying school bags.

Penny Ginn, Penny has been a long time supporter of our work and each time she comes to Goa she brings a great range of toys and items from our needslist . This year her timing was perfect as just that morning I had asked for balloons and in the afternoon she delivered around 100 punch balloons! Thank You Penny!

Dave & Vivienne Quinn very kindly brought a couple bags of small toys which will be added to the Christmas presents this year. It was their first trip to India and it was lovely of them to think about helping. Thank You!

Pareen, Stecy & Family , We have had two large lots of clothes, shoes and other items from Stecy who contacted us last month. Pareen dropped off the second lot today and a good selection of the children have already received some of the new clothes and shoes - Thank You!

We also received restricted donations from Dale, Heather and Dave which will be used at Christmas for presents and celebrations. Finally, a special thank you to Rakesh who set up a monthly donation this month, monthly donations allow us to plan for the future better and this one is a little special as this is our first! Thank you to Rakesh and everyone who has supported our work.

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Child Asking For Help, Mapusa, Goa

being Children can be hard, we are here as a helping hand when they need us.
being Children can be hard, we are here as a helping hand when they need us.

A home visit was required recently when family problems with one of the children arose. The situation became tense within the family and this girl came for help on a couple of occasions. It breaks our hearts when we hear some of the stories and we do our best to counsel and advise the children, but there is only so much we can do when the problems are at home with their own family.

There must be millions of children who have it much worse but when a drunken father uses a hefty stick to discipline the children it makes us want to do as much as possible. Often a visit makes life a lot easier, although sometimes it comes too late, when the children have already been disciplined. Often we get Childline involved, but this is done with the child’s permission as they are the ones who are affected by the situation.

After our first intervention things did get better, but a week later another mishap with some food resulted in the stick being used. The girl came straight to see us and wanted our help, we spoke at length about the options available to her and had a few phone calls with the mother, but both the girl and mother were still at odds. After the chat we took her home and had a small chat with the whole family and things relaxed a little again.

Hopefully there won’t be a third time, fingers crossed.

*Photo changed for Child Protection Reasons

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Children’s Day Party, Mapusa, Sanquelim, Goa

Some of the children enjoying the festivities of the Children's Day Party
Some of the children enjoying the festivities of the Children's Day Party

Just before Children's Day Robert was contacted by the Samarthan group from the Goa Institute of Management in Sanquelim who wanted to do something special for the children and suggested a "Make a Wish" event. The idea was that all the younger children would be asked for a list of three or four presents that they would like to receive, this list would then be given to the students from Samarthan who would organise for a student to make the child's wish come true. To start with we were unsure about how many children wishes could be fulfiled so just the children from seventh standard and below had their wishes noted down.

It took around 5 hours to visit the children's homes and for them to decide exactly what they would like. The children wanted to see what the other children had requested and there was a lot of changing of minds, but we finally got a list for around 45 children who made a wish for 4 items each. We explained to the children that maybe only one or two items from the list might be bought.

The Wishing Tree where the children's wishes were displayed
The Wishing Tree where the children's wishes were displayed

The list was sent off to the GIM students and each request was written down on a piece of paper and hung on a tree in the middle of campus. Students from the college were then asked to select a childs wish from the tree and buy it.

The response was fantastic and the GIM students got back in touch a couple of days later and wanted to expand it to all of the children we help with education. This required another trip down to see the children but thankfully most of the older children speak English well so everything went a lot quicker and we returned with another 18 names and presents to add to the list.

Due to the extra presents and time constraints we weren’t able to have the party on 14th November (Children's day), so it was scheduled for the weekend after which gave us a small break to make sure everything was ready allowing it to run smoothly, well as smoothly as it can with 60+ children!

We informed the children of the time and date, ensuring to tell them not to come too early or too late. The children were asked to arrive at 3:30pm, so at midday the first children made an appearance! - Robert was still organising the entertainment and politely asked them to come back in 3 and a half hours... Two rooms were transformed into movie rooms. One setup with a cartoon and the second with a Hindi film hoping this would keep the children engaged until the GIM students’ arrival at 4:00pm.

The GIM Students appeared right on time and the bags of presents were put into the spare room while the students introduced themselves to the children, the students had brought food and drink so while a few students entertained the children with a few games inside, the remaining students poured the drinks and organised everything ready for the party.

The time arrived for food and drink, a small cake cutting ceremony took place and then the children were given cake, samosas and a drink and as they sat the presents were organised. After clearing up, the children all sat in a circle in the middle, but every minute they seemed to inch that little bit closer. All the presents had labels on them and it was a relatively easy task to give them out, with each of the students having a chance to give out presents to the children. As we got to the end of the presents it was apparent that a few children had returned from the village since we had collected the wishes so 4 or 5 children didn’t have presents. A quick scramble round and we managed to organise a few presents. In the end nearly 70 children received gifts, the younger children having three small presents each and the older ones having two presents each.

It had been an exhausting day but as it was starting to get dark the students said their goodbyes and the children headed home.

We would like to say a huge thank you to team Samarthan for their effort in making this event possible and all the students who were kind enough to make a child’s wish come true. Thank You.

As well as our little blog, the students also wrote their own

At GIM, we have a tree which makes wishes come true. This happens once every year. This time around, it fulfilled a total of over 150 wishes. You don’t believe it? Let me elaborate.

Every year, the Samarthan folks reach out to an NGO where there are kids who have wishes, small wishes for us but big ones for them. They are looking for someone who can fulfill those wishes. What Samarthan does is that it collects those wishes, writes them down on pieces of paper and hangs them on the wish-fulfilling tree. The students of GIM walk to the tree, look at the wishes and write their names besides the wish they want to fulfill.