A teenager recounts the joys of an NPH holiday and the spirit of sharing. December 6, 2019 - Guatemala
Douglas plays sports with other NPH youth.
The Christmas holiday season can be a difficult one for many kids in Guatemala, due to economic, family, or other issues. For some that come from tough circumstances, however, NPH Guatemala provides a much sought-after familial environment; a place where Christian values like love and gratitude, in addition to physical and emotional security, are celebrated year round and especially at Christmas.
“At Christmas time we all live together, we all eat together, we all celebrate together,” says Douglas, a 16-year-old student living in Casa San Andrés at NPH Guatemala. “It’s like any other family, just a whole lot bigger.”
Douglas, who is from the nearby capital of Chimaltenango, says he used to spend holidays with his birth family. That changed some years ago, however, when a court order made those annual visits home for the holidays impossible. Douglas, who this winter will observe his 13th year with NPH, says his favorite part about spending the holidays at the NPH home is the attitude of sharing and togetherness embraced by all who live here.
“All the time here, but especially during the holidays, things are shared like in a family. And that’s what I like most,” Douglas says.
The holidays are filled with activities for the kids living in Casa San Andrés. According to Douglas, some of the more notable traditions include the dramatization of the story of the birth of Jesus and the eating of traditional Guatemalan tamales and panches. Children are also provided with a small gift stipend, which they spend with the help of tíos—Spanish for ‘uncles,’ i.e. caregivers that live in the homes—to pick out Christmas presents according to each child’s interest.
Douglas says he was too young when he came here to remember many of the problems that were experienced in his birth home. But for someone who still has siblings on the outside, he does not take his experience with NPH for granted. He has been repeatedly recognized for his high academic performance, receiving the Guatemalan flag during civic activities in the month of September in honor of his achievements.
“My education is important to me,” Douglas says, “because it’s the only thing that will allow me to support myself in life.”
This holiday season he will have time to reflect on his future and his past one last time at Casa San Andrés, before moving back to his hometown of Chimaltenango to pursue his studies with other students from NPH and elsewhere in the bachillerato program, the equivalent of a high school college preparation program.
Christmas, Douglas says, will be the ideal time to reflect on his good fortunes.
“It’s true what they say about NPH, that it’s one big family,” Douglas says. “But it’s also an opportunity.”
Interested in supporting children like Douglas 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.
Spencer Cappelli Communications Officer
You may be only one person in the world, but you may be all the world to one child.
—Fr. William Wasson