In the morning on this Christmas Eve, 30 of us professors and students from the university went to Hong Chi Pinehill Special School to organize a Christmas party for the kids there. This event has actually become part of our tradition - this is the third year that we have organized such a party and the largest group that we have brought along. There were about 30 kids there, ranging from 2 years old to 17. Some were classified as “severe” while others were “mild” in terms of special needs. Some have Down's Syndrome, others are autistic, ... The numbers of kids and helpers were just about equal. So we were able to pay individual attention to each of the kids and ensure all of them could enjoy the party as much as possible.
My heart went out especially to those kids suffering from “shaken baby syndrome”. These are kids who have been physically abused - shaken so violently that their brains are damaged. There is a two year old girl there who does not seem able to speak, does not seem to hear, and probably cannot see, even though her eyes are open. We took turns to touch her cheek and forehead, rub noses with her, and hold her hands, to let her know that someone was there playing with her. Sometimes her expressions changed and her head turned, perhaps in response to us; but we could not be sure.
Another girl’s hands were wound into tight fists. We massaged her hands gently, to help her to relax. After a long while, her hands relaxed enough to touch a balloon. But her hands remained where we placed them - she wouldn’t even move her hands by herself. Most of the time, she just stared into space. Has she given up on life already? Was she aware that we were there? We hoped so, but we could not be sure.
Why did people do such terrible things to these kids? And what is going to happen to them when they grow up? We don’t know. We cannot undo, or even understand the past. But we do have the present, and possibly the future. At least, on this Christmas Eve, we tried to bring some cheer to them. For that, I am proud of our bunch of students.
Here is wishing you all a Fruitful Christmas!