Krusada: Happiness on Christmas

Posted at 01/14/12 9:36 AM

Anchor: Henry Omaga Diaz

A week after Christmas Day, Henry Omaga Diaz returned to two charities he truly supports—Child Haus and Grace Christian Mission. While he strived to give them wonderful Christmas parties worth remembering, he believes that Christmas is more than just a celebration or a date.

Christmas brings a spirit of happiness to everyone who believes. It is the time when people are more giving and forgiving at the same time. More than the sparkle of lanterns and the merriment of children singing carols on the streets, exchanging of gifts also gives a certain sense of excitement and delight on people. Perhaps, even the cold season of December brings people closer because most of us are seeking for warmth.

It cannot be denied that the essence of Christmas is tainted by the burgeoning of commercialization and materialism. Time and again, we are reminded that more than just receiving blessings, paying it forward is much significant.

It is true that the formal celebration of the birth of Christ happens once a year. But it is also true that Christmas is more than just a date. It is a disposition, a frame of mind.

Henry Omaga Diaz revisits two of the charitable foundations he continues to support—Child Haus and Grace Christian Mission. He features the persons who labour everyday to help children in most need.

Revisiting Child Haus

Ricky Reyes sees himself as the ‘mother’ to the children of Child Haus. He believes that his mission is more than just providing a halfway house for the children with cancer and their parents in Quezon City. His ‘calling’ is to give hope. Uplift lives.

A cancer patient at Child Haus wishes to spend more days with her family

But Reyes admits that there had become a reversal of roles; the children provide more inspiration than the adults themselves. The spirit of fighting illness is perpetually strong with the kids to the point where they forget about their sickness as they focus on playing and having fun. Reyes believes that they are special; they never mourn or doubt, they just continue living.

The children taught them to appreciate life more. Daydee Castillo, Reyes’ former staff, became a permanent volunteer to help the parents in taking care of their children as well as to facilitate everyday activities at the center.

Opening doors for the abandoned

Like Child Haus, Grace Christian Mission also provides a home; but for orphans and abandoned children. With the perseverance of Arsenia Bañaga, GCM has been providing shelter for 42 years now. She has fully dedicated her life to the children she took under her wing.

Currently, GCM has 70 children who consider the orphanage as their home. A good number of the former orphans have grown up to pay their blessings forward and become volunteers at the home and school which are both under GCM.

Nerissa de Juan is one of them. Her mother left her and her siblings at GCM after their father died. She was just four years old then. Because her mother never returned, she saw Arsenia as both her mother and father, taking care of her and supporting her studies even until college.

Despite having a family of her own now, Nerissa chose to work at GCM as a stay-in teacher. Just like Arseñia, she says she has embraced becoming a mother to children she did not have any family ties with. She understands how much understanding and guidance the orphans need because she was once like them.

Nerissa has become a second parent to Anna and Nica Aguilar, children who were intentionally abandoned by their stepmother on their way to Manila from Bicol. They were six and three years old at that time.

Siblings Nica and Anna Aguilar, abandoned at a waiting shed by their stepmother

The sisters thank GCM for always being there for them and helping them making their dreams come true. While the memory of being left behind by their parents caused deep trauma for them, they have eventually learned to turn their sorrow into motivation.

Inspired by Arseñia and Nerissa, Anna and Nica aspire to become teachers in the future.

Merry little Christmas party

For seven years now, Henry Omaga Diaz has been sponsoring GCM with food and scholarships. Together with his family and friends, they also throw fun Christmas parties for the children annually.

Other than serving them delicious food and giving them gifts, the Krusada team brought in some clowns and a magician to perform and entertain the children. Henry Omaga Diaz also joined the fun by participating in the games. Everyone was thrilled and ecstatic, the home was filled with joy and love even before Christmas Day.

December 29, 2011