On 27th November, the COS Hand in Hand Refugee project hosted its annual Sinterklaas celebration for 40 refugee children and their families. Due to COVID regulations, this was safely held inside the church instead of in the atrium.   

Our volunteers Ian (UK), Neyruz (Syria) and Antonio (Columbia) assisted Dianne with filling up the goody bags with mandarins and sweets for each child.  Thankfully, the huge task of  purchasing as well as gift wrapping was done prior to the day itself, by Anthony and our Syrian friends Ahid  and Basel.  

By the time the first group of families arrived, decorations were set up, and cheerful Sinterklaas music was playing in the background. Our guests were warmly welcomed by Anthony and our ushers Eiman (Syria), Maire (Ireland) and Karolina (Poland).  Once seated, a jovial Sinterklaas, entered with his two Piet helpers Antonio (Columbia) and Saki (U.S.), waving hello and greeting everyone.

The children of each family were then invited to sit next to Sinterklaas for a personal talk.   Sometimes shyly, sometimes with great self confidence, the children shared their dreams and wishes with Sinterklaas before receiving their gifts and goody bags. When one child was asked “what do you want to ask from Sinterklaas?” the touching response was, “to be able to stay here.” 

One of the children sang a traditional Sinterklaas song, and two others presented colorful drawings they had made for Sinterklaas.  A six year old girl sweetly asked Sinterklaas, “Why are you giving us presents when we should be giving you something for your birthday?”  Sinterklaas smiled and said that giving each their gift and seeing their happy faces was the best present of all.

 We all wholeheartedly agree, and look forward to many more such happy occasions in the future.