Giow's First Christmas

Giow Chandang watched as a Compassion staff member demonstrated how to make a Christmas ornament. She stared, forehead wrinkled, as thick glue was spread on the delicate glass, a handful of glitter finishing the process.

Typhoon Haiyan is the strongest cyclone that has hit the Philippines. It is, in fact, considered the strongest recorded tropical cyclone in world history to make landfall with speeds up to 315km/h (195mph).

Giow's First Christmas
Giow's First Christmas

Giow Chandang watched as a Compassion staff member demonstrated how to make a Christmas ornament. She stared, forehead wrinkled, as thick glue was spread on the delicate glass, a handful of glitter finishing the process.

Celebrating Christmas was a new concept for Giow. She had never decorated a Christmas tree, sung Christmas carols, or set up a nativity scene.

“Giow, come stand here,” said Mr. Suthep, program director at the Streams of Blessings center. “Take this glitter and put it on the ornaments.” Giow obediently stood at her station, carefully scooping golden glitter on the sticky ornaments.

Soon Giow and her friends were laughing and singing, covered in glue and glitter. The children began hanging their handmade ornaments on the big Christmas tree in front of the church door.

Like many children in the poverty-stricken community of Nonthaburi, Giow comes from a broken family. Her father abandoned Giow and her mother. Soon afterward, her mother had a stroke. Giow took a job at her aunt’s restaurant, bringing home a few dollars and plates of cold food to share with her mother.

“There are times when Giow told me that she wanted to go play with her friends instead of helping out at her aunt’s restaurant, and I had to remind her that her father is no longer here to support us, and we need that money to survive,” says Ood, Giow’s mother.

One day while Giow was on her way to work at the restaurant, happy chatter and giggles caught her attention. She approached one of the girls and found out the group was waiting for a ride from Por, a staff member at the local Compassion center. Giow visited the center the next day, and within a month she was registered.

Giow’s first Christmas at the center was one of new experiences. She was invited to join the Christmas choir, and in the weeks leading to the holidays she learned, for the first time, the story of Jesus.

“I have never celebrated Christmas before,” said Giow. “This is my first year ever. I now know that Christmas is the birth of Jesus Christ, who came to save me from my sins. This Christmas, I enjoy singing and dancing to God in celebration of His Son’s birth.”