Sisters Pauline Nkoy and Amandine Niamké, Daughters of Jesus on mission in the Ivory Coast and Cameroon, share with us the joy and the beautiful ambiance of a Christmas lived with the college girls and children.
Sr Pauline speaks to us first:
An open and welcoming home
For several years, the Daughters of Jesus community in Daoukro, Ivory Coast, has been running a residential home for girls from the surrounding villages of Daoukro, who are in a vulnerable situation: lack of host families to accommodate them for their schooling in the various colleges and high schools of the city, cases of assault and rape. Some of them are orphans, others are of modest origins and victims of certain cultural practices. To remedy these problems, the community has been able to provide them with accommodation to offer them an adequate setting for their studies.
As many of the children and young people would not have the opportunity Ito experience the joy of Christmas in their families, the home organised a small “family” party on the 20th of December 2022. It was an opportunity for them to experience Christmas as the feast of children, the feast of God’s love for humanity.
The preparations for the party
The preparations started a week before with the drawing out of a hat of a ‘secret friend’, whose name would only berevealed on the day of the party. Everyone was invited to keep silent while praying for their friend, and being attentive through kind gestures and words. Everyone was involved, each in their own way, in the preparation of the party: the decoration, the cooking, and the animation of the evening.
The evening’s menu
Our evening’s menu included a dramatisation of the nativity of Jesus, from the loving gaze of the Holy Trinity on a world divided and torn by many evils and plagues to the total gift of Jesus through his incarnation, thanks to the great life-giving and hope-filled “Yes” of the Virgin Mary, our Mother.
After the play, we held a dance competition by class level, from the 6th through 12th grade; the Misses’ fashion show in two modes. Modern fashion forthe girls in 6th and 5th grade with the theme The importance of school“. Our winner in beauty, charm, and seductive gait as well as precise and concise expression was Rachelle Edoukou in class 5 at the Henri Konan Bedié Modern High School.
The second cultural fashion show brought together girls with the shape of real African women called in Ivorian language “Miss Awoulaba”. The Awoulabiennes had to speak about the subject: “How to fight against early pregnancies“. The winner in expression and especially in natural and original African form was Miss Sephora Dodo in the second year of secondary school at the private Catholic school of Saints Pierre et Paul in Daoukro.
The last item on the menu was the long-awaited and imagined moment of the unveiling of the secret friends, the handing over of the gifts, an exchange of vows, and finally the big festive meal.
Epiphany of Joy
Joy was on the girls’ faces, as each one had a small Christmas present. We were very happy because many of the girls would not have the opportunity to celebrate with their families due to their parents’ lack of financial means. To close our festive evening, the older girls of the group, on behalf of all 36 girls, addressed a small word of thanks to the community, for this mark of love and humanity towards them.
This little word of gratitude on behalf of the girls, allowed me to re-experience and rediscover the richness of our multi-coloured and multi-service charism, adapted to any situation and any circumstance encountered in our mission. “Honouring the Sacred Humanity of the Son of God” (Rule of Life no. 3), also means giving joy and a smile to the neediest.
It is Christmas every time we dry a tear in the eye of a child.
We hand over to Sr Amandine
It is in the same spirit of giving back a smile and sowing joy in the hearts of the little ones that I share with you the joy experienced during the Christmas celebration with the children of the workers at the Student Hostel in Soa, Cameroon.
The community of Soa had invited the wives and children of the workers to spend a moment of joy together on Friday the 23th of December 2022. But alas! Almost all the children from the community’s immediate neighbourhood and roundabout came to the party. We started our evening with games, dance competitions, and parades. The winners were rewarded. After these moments of shared joy and happiness, it was time for the distribution of gifts. Due to the unexpected number of guests, Santa’s bag of presents was soon empty, as many children continued to come.
All the same, we achieved our objective because we sowed joy in the hearts of the children, and they returned home very happy, happy to feel loved, and honoured. This a way for us to always keep burning that fire of charity that Jesus came to light on earth.