One little boy, who had never celebrated Christmas, now finds love, joy, and blessings among his NPH family. December 13, 2019 - Haiti
Charnel is content and feels loved after nearly two years living at Nos Petits Frères et Soeurs.
Charnel is a 10-year-old boy from a community named Robin in Kenscoff. He is the youngest among his seven siblings. His father passed away when Charnel was 4 years old and his mother did not have resources to take care of her children. With a heavy heart, she came to Nos Petits Frères et Soeurs (the French name of NPH Haiti, also known as NPFS) to ask for help, so that her children could receive a little something to eat and go to school.
NPH Haiti was quick to give her an appointment and visit where she lived. After seeing the local neighborhood, the very difficult conditions the family lived in, and the mother’s financial insecurity which left the children without basic needs for survival, NPH determined that the children clearly met the criteria for admission into our home. Once the social services team reported its observations to NPFS, the decision was made to integrate four of the children—Charnel, Renel, Keitia, and Egzavier—into the home in 2018.
It is a custom in Haiti that on Christmas Eve people attend la Messe de Minuit (Midnight Mass) to sing carols and celebrate the birth of Jesus. Families then return to their homes for a traditional Christmas meal, parties, and rejoicing. Children celebrate by placing polished shoes filled with straw under the Christmas tree for Père Noël (Santa Claus), who exchanges the straw for presents. Christmas Day is spent feasting and visiting friends and family, while small children play with their new toys brought by Père Noël.
But due to the extreme levels of poverty in Haiti, where according to The World Bank more than 6 million of the 11.25 million population lives on less than US$2.41 a day, not all children have the opportunity to enjoy these traditions.
“My parents have never been able to celebrate Christmas because they didn’t have money or jobs,” explains Charnel. “They could not give us gifts, or even a Christmas meal. They have always spent Christmas Day like it is any other day. We eat once a day, but most the time we eat nothing. I used to feel annoyed when I saw friends with new clothes and gifts, when I had received nothing.”
Since Charnel arrived at NPFS, he no longer feels these negative emotions. His basic needs are met and more. Last year, Charnel and his siblings spent their first Christmas at the NPH Haiti home, St. Helene, and he loved every moment of Christmas Day.
“I received plenty of Christmas gifts and, moreover, the home organized a variety of activities like soccer games in the morning with friends, listening to Christmas songs playing on the radio everywhere around the homes, and enjoying Christmas tree lights in the courtyard. By noon, I was savoring a nice meal of Diri Djon Djon Cole Ak Poi Congo (rice with pigeon peas and mushrooms), Poul Fri An Sòs (fried chicken in sauce), Salad Wous (Russian salad), and Tampico juice. I wish this year to have good food like that again,” he says, licking his lips in excitement.
Charnel says he loves the way NPH celebrates Christmas, organizes activities, and makes him feel loved. He especially enjoys the Christmas competition where each home has to prepare a Nativity or festive theme. Traditionally on Christmas night the children of NPH Haiti receive Christmas gifts and new clothes, the finalist of the competition are judged, and the winner receives piñatas and cookies.
Coming from a home where his parents were unable to celebrate Christmas, Charnel does not take the blessings of this time of year lightly. “I feel so grateful to NPFS and the caregivers and people who provide us with gifts and delicious food to celebrate Christmas. They have their own families to care for, but they give us so much," smiles Charnel.
“Thank you to everyone and Joyeux Noël.”
Interested in supporting children like Charnel to celebrate Christmas at NPH? Contact your local NPH office to see how you can help.
Children’s names have been changed to protect their privacy.
Denso Gay Communication Officer
You may be only one person in the world, but you may be all the world to one child.
—Fr. William Wasson