The Ekes at Christmas
Over the years, since 2012, when we ran a rehabilitation home, we've sought to do something special for our children every Christmas. In 2012, we had our very first Christmas party, and it was a great success. We anticipated that we'd do the same in 2013. However, come 2013, we were no longer housing street children, but working with them in the community, as we took a break to evaluate that initiative. Instead, we did follow up visits, and took Christmas to their homes.
By Christmas 2014, we'd enrolled the first ten children into our then new Disadvantage to Advantage Initiative and did our first Santa Drive to their various homes and communities, where we shared gifts and provisions to the kids and their families. In 2015, we didn't have a party, as it was the Christmas we partnered with Ultima Limited to scout for five talented children to support to achieve their potential in the FLA Talent Search. It wasn't til 2016 that we decided to host another Christmas party for our children, which they very much enjoyed. Interswitch Nigeria came along with gifts to make it more special.
We held another Christmas party, come December 2017, which the children were tasked to plan. They had a great time doing so, and we also went out swimming. In 2018, we had A Christmas to Remember, our biggest celebration yet. We invited children on our waiting list and their families, who we gave Christmas hampers, as well as our FLA Kids, as we hoped to link them with sponsors.
We hoped to carry on the tradition, but aside from the kids having a great time, celebrating with each other and their families, and taking home gifts and provisions, we wondered about the impact of these celebrations we plan for the kids each year, especially when a sponsor mentioned that she thought the families would prefer the physical cash than the money spent on these events. It made us think and reconsider our plans for 2019. We really do appreciate the feedback and contributions of our sponsors, and we'd like them to feel we are making the best of their donations, in bringing joy to our kids and empowering them for a fairer life.
So, last Christmas, we planned the Secret Santa Christmas, instead of hosting a party for our kids. We sought out to learn more about the needy families in our local community and link them with sponsors, who would give them just what they need; for their family, children and/or business. We anticipated that a lot of people would key into this but, unfortunately, we didn't get a lot of support with this and were only able to gift seven families in need, out of the 100 we assessed and appealed for. We shared about each family (using pseudonyms) via our Instagram page, but as a recap:
1. The Anthonys, a family of six, got N50,000 towards their business and financial needs;
2. The Bunmis, a family of five, got N20,000 towards food and provisions for the family;
3. The Bayos, a family of seven, got N20,000 towards provisions and N30,000 to help with the family business;
4. The Collins, a family of six, got educational sponsorship (to the value of N100,000) for one of their kids (she is now enrolled in school and her 2nd term fees have been settled by FLA);
5. The Demolas, a family of four, got N50,000 towards clothing and food donations;
6. The Ekes, a family of seven, got N50,000 towards clothing and food donations;
7. The Fadekes, a family of five, got N50,000 towards their rent.
Regardless, we took our kids out to the Palms Shopping Mall ahead of Christmas, and gave them cash to get the gifts they really wanted, instead of us buying gifts for them this year. A lot of them seemed to prefer this, while others were spoit for choice and said they'd prefer if we had gotten the gifts for them. In addition, we sent money to each of the families we support, to help them with their needs over Christmas. The total costs of these amounted to what we would have spent on a Christmas party (even more), and we hoped that the families would each put these donations to good use in getting the things they really need or just having an enjoyable Christmas.
So, what do you think? To party or not to party? Is it a good investment planning activities and events that will help our kids to forget about their troubles and feel loved, once in a while, or are the practical gifts really the way to go? We'd really appreciate your feedback.
We'd also like to use this opportunity to say thanks for entrusting us with your hard-earned cash. Really, thank you! We really want to make the world a better place, and we are trying all we can to make the impact where we are.
God bless you, and have a fantastic 2020!
A wonderful Christmas for the Bunmis
The Collins got educational sponsorship!
The Bayos were so happy!
The Demolas got their wish :)