Starting from 2006, our students have been going to Hong Chi PinHill Special School to organize Christmas Parties for the children over there. There are actually several special schools and homes in that compound. Their children range from kindergarten to secondary school in age, and their abilities range from severely to mildly handicapped. We had been doing more than these once-a-year parties. We have invited their children over to our university to attend workshops on the Internet. We had also helped them install a wireless local area network. And we will continue to do more, as part of our expanding Service Learning program. Some of these projects may even earn the students academic credits. More on that in subsequent posts.
We are also adding some new elements to these parties. Last year, we invited some refugee children sponsored by Christian Action, with whom we have been working for several years, to come as helpers. This year, some of their children sang pop songs and performed hip-hop dancing. They were quite entertaining and we all had a great laugh. We also invited the youth fellowship of my church to come along and sing Christmas songs with the children.
It was gut-wrenching to see the state that some of the children were in. Many of them sat in specially-designed wheelchairs. Even then, some of them still could not sit up straight. One kept flinging his head around, banging on the arm-rests and the back. I showed my student how to pad the kid on his shoulder, and to massage his shoulders, which seemed to calm him down. There was this girl with a sweet round face who liked to smile. But she could not talk and her hands were always clenched tight. I showed a girl from my youth fellowship how to massage her hands, to help her relax her grip. There was a girl whose head was only 2/3 of the size of a normal child - but she enjoyed clapping in synchrony with one of my students. There was this boy that I have known for more than 10 years, who had some special problems which made his lips and tongue blue, who is about 17 but only as tall as a 10 year old. ...
They turn out to be really easy to please, and love the human contact. One cannot help loving them, wanting to do things for them, to make them smile. I think that is what Christmas is all about - loving, serving each other. I believe all of us felt that way.