I went by Allan Galpin Health Centre at Uganda Christian University the other day. A brief conversation with my doc revealed that the good doctor – with whom I share a confidentiality clause – was unhappy.
He is part of the ‘essential personnel’ who will not be breaking off for Christmas this year, unlike the rest of the staff.
And it is not just Christmas – staff in the security, health and catering departments at the Mukono-based university do not break off for Easter holidays either.
Although this is a policy issue that human resources explained, it is evident that most of the affected staff find it understandably unfair.
Christmas is celebrated worldwide in symbolism of the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. His life is God’s manifestation of selflessness, love, and care. On this day families get together, pray, play, drink and make merry.
How, therefore, do we ensure that this day carries the same significance to other people as it does for us – even those to whom it had no meaning before?
And this is not just about the departments I have mentioned. There are a lot of people who live dangerously every day, year after year.
Folks have no families to go back to, no good meal to furnish their enzymes, no warm bed to lie in, and no parent to take them shopping.
Despite urban areas being largely deserted in the festive season, beggars and malnourished street children still dot the roadsides.
One of the street children in my home town Mbarara stopped me last Christmas as I walked down the street with a crate of soda. He told me he was hungry and considering how deserted towns were during the festive season, it wasn’t a good day at ‘work’ for him.
The last time he had celebrated Christmas was six years earlier, after which both his parents had passed away. Wycliffe, now 12 years, knew no home but Mbaguta Street where he had lived ever since.
He narrated that his relatives, some of whom he saw hopping around town ignored him when they saw him, when approached, they publicly denied knowing him or having seen him before.
Wycliffe had been left out so many times already and I was not going to be the next person to do the same to him. I convinced him to come home and together with my family, we shared a meal.
He continued to live with us until he was reconciled with his relatives.
It took humility, love and compassion to help a total stranger realise that there was more to life than the way he lived. And I pray that this Christmas, you can go out of your way to make someone else’s day memorable.
Asked what the most important commandment was: Jesus singled out love. He preached love for God above all, and for others just as oneself.
Jesus Christ would surely appreciate if this day were devoted not only to our respective families but also to those that do not have the chance or reason to celebrate.