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25 December 2009 | 01:45 am
Treating our children as ordinary people

Dear Team
“Christmas isn’t Christmas till it happens in your heart. Somewhere deep inside you is where Christmas really starts.” The mothers of the children from our LIFE programme did not hesitate to contribute to the success of their Christmas party held at the Queenstown Community Centre. Each gave a little from their heart and there was more than enough for 80 children who enjoyed a spread of cakes, kueh, satay, curries, chicken, noodles and other titbits.

At our Sembawang premises, local celebrities Rui En and Taufik Batisah got a party going for the former residents of Kids United Home and their family members. Taufik, the very first Singapore Idol sang his heart out and happily shared the microphone with a child who was brave enough to join him for a duet.

I was next to a 12 year old girl when Taufik arrived. It was an unfamiliar car that came into our compound and she was squinting to see who it was. When he stepped out she blurted “Oh s*#t! It is Taufik!” There was no hiding that she was excited as a flush filled her face but when Taufik came by to shake hands, she was nonchalant.

The children and their families gathered around Taufik and his accompanying musicians as they entertained with Christmas favourites but this 12 year old girl sat a distance away tucked into her food and stole glances in Taufik’s direction whenever she thought no one was looking.

Sadly, many of our children don’t quite know how to receive. They are quite expressionless when you hand them a present and they are very guarded when you hand them a compliment. Perhaps the many disappointments in their short lives have nurtured in them an icy cool demeanour that shields them from further pain.

Sometimes this makes our children not easy to love but that did not deter Taufik and Rui En as they casually walked over to where the 12 year old was seated and had their picture taken with her. It was a gesture from their heart which they had hoped would convey to this 12 year old that she was fine the way she was.

The evening just seemed to linger on as Taufik and Rui En continually smiled for the cameras as the children and their families posed with them. Also, Rui En who is a regular volunteer at our home presented a father who ran a chicken rice stall with a several photographs of them in front of his stall. “You may put them up at your stall and perhaps it will bring you luck and a few more customers.”

Rui En’s family was also at the party and in a room of celebrities; marginalised children and those of us in between, her father had the wisest words “Like all of us, these children just need to be treated like ordinary people.”

May you always find much peace and goodwill among ordinary people on any ordinary day.

“I have seen and met angels wearing the disguise of ordinary people living ordinary lives.” – Tracy Chapman

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