Konkan Overseas Returnees Welfare Association (KORWA) Celebrates Joy of Christmas with Orphanage Kids- Bishop of Mangaluru Diocese Rev Dr Peter Paul Saldanha highlights True Meaning of Christmas, and shares the joy and love among the children, and brings miles of smiles on their faces
Mangaluru: “Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat” had said, Saint Mother Teresa. Also quoting Pope Francis where he tells, “In a world where there is so much wealth, so many resources to feed everyone, it is unfathomable that there are so many poor persons. Poverty today is a cry. I believe in the kindness of others, and that I must love them without fear. None of us can think we are exempt from concern for the poor and for social justice. The world tells us to seek success, power, and money; God tells us to seek humility, service, and love.” – I think Konkan Overseas Returnees Welfare Association (KORWA) members have done the right thing again by sharing the spirit of Christmas with the less-fortunate children of the various orphanages in and around Mangaluru.
The mega 7th Annual Cultural Event Christmas Celebration 2018 by Konkan Overseas Returnees Welfare Association (KORWA) a registered Social Welfare Organization in Mangaluru was held on 8 December 2018 at St. Sebastian Platinum Jubilee Hall, Bendore, Mangaluru from 5:00 p.m. onwards. The main focus of the event was to bring Christmas joy for more than 700 underprivileged children residing in and around Mangaluru. Keeping the tradition of the last seven years alive, this year KORWA was set with lots of entertainment – songs, music, dance, fun and games, and followed by a sumptuous dinner. It was indeed an evening filled with entertainment and fun for children and families in Mangaluru- KORWA did put miles of smiles on the faces of these less-privileged children and thereby making a big difference in their lives.
Following the introduction of the organization by the compere Miss Angeline D’Souza, a student of St Aloysius College, the programme began with a welcome dance by the children of Jeevadaan-Gurupura. Ms Jessy Pinto, the President of KORWA welcomed the gathering. The programme was symbolically inaugurated by Rev Fr Vincent Francis Monteiro- Parish priest of St Sebastian Church, Bendore along with the KORWA executive members by lighting the lamp. Fr Valerian in his inaugural address commending the efforts of KORWA said “It’s nice to note that Korwa is celebrating the spirit of Christmas once again with the orphanage children. Christmas is life, and these children are the future life of the world. Children are God’s gift to us. We should be grateful to the members of Korwa for putting up this unique programme for the sake of children, thereby bringing joy in their lives, when they are being deprived of many privileges. Merry Christmas to you all well in advance”.
As part of the cultural programme, there were dances, songs etc-namely dance by Spandana children (Prashanth Nivas); Various Acts from Sri Arasu DaningAcademy- Prajna Counselling Centre-St Angela Home-Bejai- Infant Jesus Hostel, Kulshekar- St Aloysius Home, Kotekar; Dances by Dream Boys- De MercedeOrphanage; and also many Bollywood and Sandalwood songs by a bevy of children. The special attraction of the evening was singing performance from sensational young singer, Manhitha Sunil, a 9th student of Amritha Vidhyalayam, Bolar-Mangaluru, who can sing in five different languages-Tulu, Kannada, Hindi, English, and Spanish. Having given more than 200 stage performances, this girl has been honoured by many organizations- and for that matter, Manhitha Sunil rocked the KORWA evening with her superb singing, which led the audience into a dancing mood. You Go Girl! Team Mangalorean is proud of you.
The entry of Santa Claus brought lots of laughter and cheers among the children, as well as adults. Santa distributed sweets, goodies and danced with the children. Sponsors and well-wishers were honoured on the occasion. Gifts were also distributed to the kids by the Santa Claus. Christmas carols were sung by Ozzie and group from Bendore. The entry of Rev Dr Peter Paul Saldanha, the Bishop of Mangaluru diocese brought loud applause from the kids as he walked down the aisle towards the stage. The Bishop was joined by ex-MLA J R Lobo; former president Konkani Sahitya Academy Roy Castelino; and other VIP’s.
Narrating the activities Ms Pinto said, “Nearly 4,500 students in Kannada medium schools have received school bags and notebooks worth more than Rs. 9 lakhs; An inverter has been provided to one of the children’s homes in the city worth Rs 34,000; A water cooler was provided to a school in a rural area in the Moodbidri taluk worth Rs 30,000; Steel lunch plates, mugs, and bags were distributed to a school in the city worth Rs 25,000; Medical aid has been provided to several poor and needy patients worth Rs 1,50,000; School equipment and furniture were provided to a special school in the Karkala taluk worth Rs 70,000; Fruits and mineral water bottles were distributed at a large maternity government hospital in the city worth Rs. 18,000; Medical camps were conducted at Children homes; Various HIV AIDS centres were visited and the inmates were provided with counselling; Our members regularly visit patients in hospitals and children in orphanages and help them in their needs; Our committee members had various meetings with Government and aviation officials in regard to the restoration of direct flights to Kuwait from Mangaluru; and apart from that, we are proud to say that KORWA has been organising Christmas Celebration for the underprivileged children every year without fail, which costs us approximately Rs 4 lakhs each year. i.e. Approximately for 7 years equal to Rs 25 lakhs”.
Addressing the gathering Ex-MLA J R Lobo said, “It is a beautiful programme, celebrating Christmas with the children who are the less privileged lot. It is a true way of celebrating Christmas. It is not a family festival, but is a festival of unity, brotherhood and joy”. In olden days pagans were celebrating various festivals and Christmas is the one since then. We celebrate Jesus Birthday but it is not the question of Jesus Birth, no one knows the exact date when Jesus was born but we all are sure that 2000 years ago Jesus was born in the winter season. We celebrate the coming of Jesus to save us from sin. And we celebrate his coming as Christmas. Christmas is the time to celebrate joy with our neighbours, the poor and downtrodden forgetting caste, creed and religion. Jesus came to this world and he loved the poor and the downtrodden. Instead of celebrating Christmas with our own people lets celebrate Christmas with the less fortunate in the society like Jesus taught. When we understand the true meaning of Christmas and share the joy it will be a real celebration”.
In his presidential address, Rev Dr Peter Paul Saldanha said, “I am happy to be among you all and see happy and smiling faces. The birth of Jesus has brought joy and smiles among you all. Christmas is an intensely religious day as we remember the birth of our saviour, one who has brought us the Good News of God’s love. For Pope Francis: “Christmas is a warm, widely celebrated feast, able to warm the coldest hearts, to remove the barriers of indifference to one’s neighbour, to encourage openness to the other and free giving. … Therefore, there is need today to spread the message of peace and fraternity proper to Christmas; there is need to represent this event [through song, music and art] by expressing the genuine sentiments that animate it. Christmas is the time to show tenderness, peace and hospitality, which spring from the Bethlehem cave. I am happy to note that KORWA is sharing the love, joy and happiness of Christmas among these less-fortunate children. May God bless you all”.
On the occasion the 75th Birthday of Ms Cecelia Veigas, one of the sponsors of this event, by cutting the birthday cake joined by all the dignitaries on the dais, including Ms Cecelia’s family members. KORWA members Dian Lewis read out the names of the donors/sponsors, while Elias Sanctis proposed the vote of thanks. Compere Miss Angelina D’souza kept the audience live with her thoughtful punchlines. The programme concluded with a sumptuous dinner served by M D’Souza Caterers. Everyone went home happy in the spirit of Christmas!
In conclusion, in my perspective, “If we believe Christmas is about peace, then we must convey peace, by giving peace to those around us and by reaching out to others as a peacemaker. If we believe Christmas is about light, then light must shine in our lives, as we brighten up the lives of our brothers and sisters. If Christmas is about love, then love must be at the heart of our lives, as we bring love to those who need to be understood and cared for. If Christmas is about joy, then our lives must radiate joy and we must smile and be happy wherever we are. If Christmas is about hope, hope must grow in our hearts and we must bring hope to those who are down and feel despair. If Christmas is about liberty, liberty must be respected and all people must experience that respect. If Christmas is about God’s Son, then we need to acknowledge His message of peace and love. If Christmas is about the birth of Jesus Christ, then we need to acknowledge this birth with great joy. If Christmas is a celebration of “God with us,” then we need to grow in our realization that God is always in our midst, that God is always with us. May our celebration of the Feast of Christmas bring us all that we desire at this point in our lives”. And thanks to KORWA for bringing the joy of Christmas into the hearts of these under-privileged Children Merry Christmas well in advance!