For most people Christmas is one of the most joyous times of the year. It’s a time for families and friends to gather together. However, Christmas might mean something different for an underprivileged or a refugee child, who may not have received a gift at Christmas. Since 2009 a Santa’s Grotto has been open at Garden International School to visits from students. However, this year there was a twist to this traditional Christmas experience. Instead of the students receiving presents from Santa, they were Santa’s little helpers, donating gifts for the underprivileged and refugee children who were present during the school’s major event. All gifts presented by the students were wrapped and placed under the ‘Giving Tree’.
Ms Anna Berney, along with Ms Shamsiah Ismail were the Community Service Coordinators handling the program with the school’s principal, Stuart Walker dressing up as Santa Claus. The act of kindness reinforces the GIS student vision and core values where students are taught to be effective community contributors who respect and care for each other. This project has grown substantially over the years. In 2013 the students of GIS shared their love by giving over 2,000 gifts to a number of orphanages, refugee centres and children’s homes within the Klang Valley.
The Refugee Christmas Party is proudly written on Garden International School’s calendar. Now being held at the school for the fifth time running since 2009, this event organised by GIS brings close to 900 refugee children aged between 5 – 12 years old from various refugee centres in Kuala Lumpur to the school for a joyous time of celebration. The main aim of the event is to show the refugee kids a good time and to let them unwind and relax with other kids their age. A charity bazaar is also held on that day with about 60 food and game stalls set-up to raise funds for the kids. In 2013 GIS received a RM5,000 donation from Tesco Extra Mutiara Damansara which was used for presents, candies, refreshments for the party and wrapping paper.
This joyous event which featured teachers working side-by-side with students in organising and participating, showcased a range of performances and activities to provide a special Christmas celebration for the refugee kids who attended. Each year the refugee centres plan performances by the kids as a way of saying thank you to GIS for bringing joy and laughter to the kids. The Refugee Christmas Party was inspired when GIS started working with Myanmar refugee centres in Kuala Lumpur.
Written by Amelia Ooi