The volunteers were warmly welcomed by the community with a traditional dance presentation. Selected mothers from the area also gave a special dance number.
Sr. Ping gave the welcome remarks and thanked VIDES for once again choosing to share the joys of the season with the residents of Sitio Monicayo.
After the prayer and lighting of the advent candles, Sr. Josefina Carrasco FMA, VIDES Philippines Delegate, expressed the volunteers' gratitude for the very festive welcome given by the community. Roberto Manzoni of VIDES Italy and Carine Cuinet of VIDES France also greeted the participants and conveyed their happiness for being given the opportunity to join the Christmas outreach event.
Simultaneous activities held during the day included medical consultation, haircutting, fun games for the kids, arts session, and discussion on children's rights. Volunteers had fun bonding with the kids and mothers of the community.
Before saying goodbye, the participants were given grocery items, school supplies, and gift items such as toys and clothes. (Thanks to VIDES volunteers and our regular donors your gifts of love and donations!)
After the event, the volunteers proceeded to Mary Help of Christians School in Mabiga for lunch and bonding activity. (Thank you, Sr. Irene Mangabat FMA and the Mary Help of Christians Mabalacat community, for welcoming us and for preparing our sumptuous food!)
The early Christmas celebration with the aeta community in Pampanga started in 2008. Eight years ago, in keeping with the organization's motto of being one for others, the volunteers decided to forego the usual yuletide celebration and deemed it more important to go the peripheries to share the joys of the blessed season.
*Mary Help of Christians and Don Bosco schools conduct regular oratory activities composed of prayer and organized recreation for students and underprivileged youth.
Photo credit: VIDES volunteers