A Comfy Christmas

How the concept of Christmas changed for Jonathan.
November 17, 2018 - Dominican Republic

Jonathan, a young future baseball or civil engineering star.

In the Dominican Republic, Christmas is the most anticipated time of the year for most families. Families come together with expressions of affection, hugs, smiles and sharing. While for many, Christmas represents a warm feeling filled with family, in some cases it is the opposite.

Many of the children in our NPH family come from bateyes. A batey is a poor community in which people work in the sugarcane fields or production, in exchange for a very low pay that barely allows them to survive. Most live in very small houses between 130 to 160 square feet, where up to six members reside. The environment is unsanitary, and there is often conflict.

Jonathan,* a young man in our family from a batey in the municipality of Consuelo in the city of San Pedro de Macorís, joined the NPH family with his older brother on Christmas 2009 when he was 8 years old. They came from a single parent family, and the time-intensive stresses of low-pay worked meant that their parent could not be around enough to take care of them, as hours upon hours of work was needed to simply put food on the table. It was customary for the children to stay alone in the house. This was difficult for Jonathan, but even more so for his brother, as he has special developmental needs. Before arriving at NPH, the brothers did not enjoy Christmas. Jonathan says, "The Christmas that I remember was filled with fighting: People fought and hurt each other physically and verbally. We had two meals a day, and I went to school from 1-4 p.m.” When they arrived at NPH, the children's lives took a 180-degree turn.

Currently, both Jonathan and his brother have stable lives within the NPH family. A normal day in Jonathan’s starts at 6:00 a.m. with a shower, then breakfast and a review of his notes for school. From 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., he attends school, where he is currently in his second year of high school. He practices baseball from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. and from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. he goes to the gym. At 8:00 p.m. he has dinner, hangs out with friends or does homework, then finally to bed by 9:30 pm. On Saturdays from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Jonathan has more baseball practice, because his dream is to be a major league player, and after lunch he goes to the shoe workshop for two hours, where he learns the professional skills of the trade to become certified and find meaningful work after NPH.

Jonathan's brother lives in the Santa María house, which is a house qualified for the care of young people with special needs, where he has the necessary care to lead a happy, healthy life.

Jonathan's dream is to be a Major League player, but if he cannot get there, he would like to study civil engineering.

Christmas for Jonathan has taken another on another meaning now: They are filled with true joy. What he likes the most about Christmas in the NPH family is the sharing program, where the children of the home visit the bateyes to share joy, gifts, and food rations with those most in need. Jonathan now loves Christmas, and looks forward to sharing with others the joy of a warm Christmas in the NPH family.

*Name changed for privacy purposes.

Daniela Candelario   
Communications Officer

You may be only one person in the world, but you may be all the world to one child.
—Fr. William Wasson




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