Gifts Open Door to Boy’s Heart
By Alyssa Carrel, ER Writer
Since his arrival in 2012 at African Hope Trust, an ER partner operating safe homes for children located in South Africa, Ekundayo* has kept himself at arm’s length from everyone aside from his house Mama. He doesn’t show affection and rarely expresses emotion, reflecting his troubling journey.
During the 2018 Christmas party for African Hope Trust, ER staff had the privilege of witnessing a different side to Ekundayo. In previous years, he was always assigned a “helper” who was tasked with the job of constant supervision. Because of his progress, this was the first year he was able to attend the party helper-free.
The day of the party the children received their presents and were told to wait (the wait, as you can imagine, was torturous). Once all the children had their gifts, they tore into them in a frenzy of excitement. There were oohs and ahhs and boisterous giggles of joy.
Dawn Carnill, ER co-founder and Director of Christmas Outreach, has known Ekundayo since his arrival at African Hope Trust. She sat with him as he began opening his present. He proudly showed her his new backpack and the mirage of school supplies, toys and treats. With a grin covering his typically somber face, he turned to Dawn, “Thank you! Thank you for the present; I love it!” and wrapped his arms around her frame.
Knowing his typical distrusting nature, this encounter was a highlight of Dawn’s 2018 South African Christmas Outreach season. There is no better gift than to witness a child opening his or her heart.
African Hope Trust works tirelessly to make sure every child in its care knows without a doubt that they are dearly loved. With this love, Ekundayo is beginning to learn how to love and how to trust.
Watching children open their presents is always a highlight of a Christmas party, but our real joy comes from watching these children grow and change and thrive.
Thank you to all who have participated in 20+ years of Christmas Outreach as volunteers or donors. Your investment helps shape the futures of vulnerable kids.
*Name changed for privacy.