Christmas time is a special time – also in Freetown, the capital of the West African country Sierra Leone. Normally about one million people live here, but at Christmas the population increases significantly. Many come to Freetown from the country side or from smaller towns to visit relatives and friends. Therefore the city is now even noisier and busier than usual.
The Christmas season also makes itself felt in Pikin Paddy, the Cap Anamur shelter for street children in Sierra Leone. The house is festively decorated and the children in joyful excitement. The big day here is December 25th. It doesn’t matter whether the children are Muslim or Christian – in the Pikin Paddy they pray together and also celebrate together.
On this day, the kitchen is already working from five o’clock in the morning. On two large coal stoves the food sizzles in huge pots. Chicken legs are fried and large quantities of couscous, pasta and potato salad are prepared. A small highlight, as usually in Sierra Leone the staple food rice is available almost daily. To celebrate the day every child also gets a soft drink. A social worker has agreed to make ice cream for dessert for everyone. A feast. After the meal the music is turned up and dancing commences. Despite their full bellies, nothing can keep the children sitting still on their chairs. Our employee Saidu Bah, who is responsible for the hygiene project as well as for the sports lessons of the children, has provided a sound system and a DJ. He doesn’t want money for this, because everybody contributes his share to make the party a good one.
The children do not expect any presents here. This day is about being together, celebrating together and having fun. And our employees and children excel at this every year in Pikin Paddy.