For most children, counting down the days until Christmas when they can open their gifts is the most anticipated time of the year. But not every child has this experience.

Compassion works in some of the neediest communities around the world, including Mexico. Mexico has the highest level of income inequality in Latin America and one of the highest in the world. While Mexico has prestigious skyscrapers, you can find shanty homes just a short walking distance away.

Tlalnepantla is just north of Mexico City, but there is a dramatic difference in the quality of life. It is one of the most violent towns in Mexico, where people commit crimes to survive. While poverty brings misery to many, there is a Compassion centre at the heart of this town, bringing joy, hope, and love to vulnerable children.

Untitled-design-(12).jpg A large group of sponsored children singing and dancing to Christmas music at the centre.

One of these ways is through the eagerly awaited Christmas celebration. The special event begins with a prayer giving thanks to God for his act of love in sending His Son Jesus—the most important reason for the celebration. The children dance, as they sing Christmas carols.  

In Mexico, it wouldn't be a celebration without a piñata. The children's faces light up when staff bring out the brightly coloured objects filled with candy, and every child has the opportunity to try and break it.  

The church's lead pastor shares a brief message, reminding the children that the best Christmas gift is Jesus. Like them, he has first-hand experience of living in poverty. “When I was a child, my mother didn’t have money for Christmas presents. She gave us a lollipop as a Christmas gift. I am so amazed at what God is doing with these children thanks to the Compassion centre.”  

After the pastor's message and the piñata, came the long-awaited moment—the Christmas gifts. Each child received a gift. “It is a wonderful time to see those happy faces holding a gift. For many, it would have been the first time they had received a Christmas gift. Compassion gives gifts to all the kids in the programme because every child deserves it,” the pastor says. 

Ten-year-old Jazmery and Alfredo, nine, anxiously wait for their names to be called. When the moment finally comes, they take their gifts with huge smiles.  

“My dad works in a soda company, and my mother is a seamstress. They don’t earn enough to give us a Christmas gift. They have many things to pay for to survive,” says Jazmery.  

“It is my first Christmas gift. I am so excited because my parents prefer to go to the museums as our Christmas gift because admission is free." Alfredo's present—a toy action figure—was the highlight of his year. “Receiving this Christmas gift is the most amazing thing that happened to me this year. I’ve always wanted a toy like this,” he beamed.  

Untitled-design-(14).jpg Alfredo, nine receiving his first Christmas gift. An action figure!

Seeing her children receive their first gift, filled their mother, Maria, with joy. “I am so grateful for what the centre provides—it is a big support for us. It is a priceless moment to see our children so happy. It distracts us from our day to day problems,” she says.  

Untitled-design-(15).jpgJazmery kissing her mother, Maria, on the cheek.

Through the celebrations, the children also learned about the greatest gift of all: Christ. “I am so thankful to the centre because it taught me the most important part of Christmas—Jesus. Last year, I decorated a Christmas tree for the first time. It is a moment that I will remember all my life,” says Jazmery.  

For the children living in this dangerous community, the child development centre is a light in a dark place, giving love and peace even in one of the most violent communities in the world.  After eating a special meal, the children return home feeling full and happy. That night, as many children around the world do, they fall asleep with their new toys tucked next to them. 


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