“It’s Not A Sacrifice” to Celebrate Christmas in Chennai

Christmas in India

Happy Christmas to all! It is 1:17am and a fun and a full Christmas Eve Day has quickly turned into early Christmas morning…

Our day began with a first visit for team members Riley and Barbara, and a return visit for Susan, Brookie, and Katie to Assisi Illam where we’ve been working all week.  The teen and preteen boys and girls we encountered at Assisi were on school holiday, and pretty wound up as they anticipated the day’s Christmas activities.  All the same, we kept each other entertained with some reading, games and singing. The highlight, however, was the over-the-top dancing talent discovered amongst the ranks.  We witnessed an amazing variety and quantity of dancing by everyone – but best dancer award definitely went to Augustine for overall performance, and volunteer Riley for her Irish jig.

After lunch, the Global Volunteers ladies went to work doing a little shopping (with a big assist from Sheeba, who had her own beautiful sari) for Christmas Eve outfits for church services.  And it’s a good thing we did as the children from Assisi and the hundreds of other people who attended the 10pm Catholic mass looked stunning – women in their saris, and the men ‘spit polished’ as well.  What a magnificent Church and Christmas mass!

Global Volunteers team with the children and staff of Assisi Illam on Christmas Eve.

Afterwards we returned to the orphanage for gift exchange with the children.  Santa, who under that white beard and Santa suit looked very similar to Augustine, passed out gifts.  Santa also remembered the Global Volunteers ladies, who apparently had been mostly nice all year, because each received a lovely scarf. Santa didn’t forget anyone!

So why did we four Global Volunteers ladies choose to “sacrifice” time with our families at the Christmas holidays to spend time with perfect strangers halfway around the world in India?  Turns out Christmas in Chennai wasn’t sacrifice at all, and please don’t wince when we tell you it was based simply on best scheduling options for all four of us – along with our families’ blessing to go.

the children of Assisi Illam

“Santa” Augustine prepares to distribute gifts.

Although the foundation of Christmas is its Christian beliefs, in the U.S. it has become so secular and commercial that most all of us celebrate the season in some fashion.  In India, it is largely the small Christian population who celebrate Christmas.  But in both countries, the focus of Christmas is all about family.  We may have left our own family at home, but we certainly have found family here in Chennai – to  share Christmas together.  We feel the same love that these children without families experience every day.  – Barbara

Spend Christmas in Chennai, India with the children of Assisi Illam in 2017.  Teach, nurture and motivate children who have no families outside of their orphanage – and learn how significant you can be!  Call a volunteer coordinator to join an India Service Program:  800-487-1074.

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