Thursday, December 07, 2006

Taking Christmas joy to remote districts

Christmas is Borneo starts early. Especially if you've thousands of miles to cover, by boat cos there are no roads.

Taking Xmas joy to remote districts

MIRI: Christmas came early for rural kids at the Long Lama sub-district in the remote heartland of northern Sarawak.

While children in urban areas wait eagerly for Dec 25, the children in Long Lama are already celebrating the festival.

The reason for the early Christmas in Long Lama is that the Roman Catholic priest in charge of the parish – Reverend Father Philip Chua – has to organise parties and celebrations before the children go back to their remote longhouses and settlements during the school holidays.

Santa Claus giving out goodies to a pupil at the school in Long Lama
Rev Chua had to organise the celebrations before the school term ended in mid-November, and to ensure that the celebration were enjoyable, he had to travel to towns all over northern Sarawak to seek sponsors for gifts and food for the children.

“The kids look forward to the Christmas celebration every year.

“No words can describe the joy felt by us when we see the kids happy and enthusiastic during the celebration in their schools.

“This is what Christmas should be – bringing the love of Christ to everyone, regardless of who they are and where they are,” said Rev Chua.

Kids in his parish were treated to gatherings with Santa Claus, Christmas carolling and hymn-singing competitions, a contest to design Christmas cards, fellowship dinners and church fellowship programmes and a baptism session.

Rev Chua expressed his gratitude to the kind-hearted sponsors who supported his Christmas parties.

Many of the sponsors were from as far as Miri City and Bintulu town, he said.

“May God bless them abundantly for their kindness,” he added.

Rev Chua will be organising similar Christmas celebrations for youths and adults of the 26 different settlements in his area, apart from organising mass and house visits to remote folks.

Though these Christmas activities exert a lot of physical demands on him, Father Chua is happy he is able to bring the joy and happiness of Christmas to people cut off from the urban world.

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