Christmas at Hôpital Saint Damien: Port-au-Prince, Haiti
You could feel an atmosphere of anxious waiting on Christmas morning as you walked the halls. The children, especially the older ones on the fourth floor, were filled with joy and expectancy. They couldn’t wait for Papa Noël to come.
They had been preparing so long for Christmas — making decorations that began to appear all over the hospital and hearing the Christmas story. They could easily identify with this baby, born poor and homeless as most of them had been. They also knew that gifts are given and received at this time because of the wonderful Gift the world received that first Christmas. The story of St. Nicholas was familiar to them.
And so, when Santa finally arrived — red suit, big bag on his back, guitar in hand, long white beard — the children literally danced with delight!
They received only a small bag filled with tiny things — a whistle, a toy car, barrettes, a stuffed toy, a ball, some candy, a water gun, soap bubbles, a candy cane, a wee doll. But, oh, how happy they were! Their squeals of delight could be heard all over the hospital and their pleasure was palpable.
I don’t need to say anymore. The photos will speak for themselves. As you look at them, I hope you can feel the same deep joy I did when I saw ‘my’ children so happy, being surprised by their small bag, playing with their gifts like children all over the world that Christmas morning. It was hard to be dry-eyed as I realized that for most of them, this would be the only Christmas they had ever known.
By Lorraine Malo CSJ