My Christmas in Medellin, Colombia was the first time I haven’t spent the holiday with my family. Since I was in a unfamiliar city away from family and friends I thought about what I could do with my time that could make Christmas good for other people, that’s what Christmas is all about anyway.
I got connected with Angeles de Medellin (Angels of Medellin) an organization helping poor and displaced children and families in Medellin, Colombia. In the barrio of Regalo de Dios each day more than 50 children and adults visit the center learn English and computers and have a safe environment to learn and discover new worlds. During Christmastime Angels of Medellin put on a seemingly endless Christmas party for the kids.
I met Marcos and about 10 other volunteers at the metro station and together we took to the MetroCable up high into the barrios in the hills outside of Medellin. Marcos is an American who has been living in Medellin for 9 years and started the organization in 2006. I rode with him on the MetroCable and got to hear about the history of how he started working up here. While the area is generally safe if you’re walking around in a group, that wasn’t the case when Marcos first started coming here. After meeting families and kids in the barrio he volunteered to teach an english class for a day and he kept coming back. Seeing the other needs the community had he has rallied hundreds of volunteers to spend part of their time in Medellin helping out.
By the time we arrived at the office there was a line of kids outside the building. This was the 4th and last day of the Christmas event. The previous three days were held at a large venue and more than 6,000 people showed up. Since it’s Christmas Eve and most of the kids in the area have already attended we were expecting just a couple hundred.
The kids would come in a few at a time. We’d meet them at the door, learn their names, then walk them through and help them pick out gifts. More than just toys, the kids received some basics like toothbrushes, school supplies, food, and bottled water.
After all the children had gone through we spent the next couple of hours playing games with them. Some played with their toys but many just wanted to play football (soccer), tag, be swung around, or play in cardboard box tunnels.
By the afternoon all the gifts were gone but the happiness and love would remain. Hope those kids and their families had a great Christmas. I know I did. While I’m still away from family and friends and missing them. My heart if full. Learn more about Angels of Medellin and consider making a donation to help them continue to provide opportunities for the kids in the barrio. Angels of Medellin website: http://angelesdemedellin.blogspot.com/