If Beijing feels a long way from family this Christmas Day, then a Christian group invites you to join them for a dinner which will bring the true spirit of giving to the city’s orphans.
To find out more, we talked to Pastor Joseph Castillo of ANIF, who is organizing the event. What, we asked, is ANIF?
“ANIF stands for All Nations International Fellowship,” he told us, “we are a fellowship of expats living in China. We gather for expat activities such as holidays and charity efforts, united by commonalities: first our faith in Jesus Christ from various religious backgrounds, and secondly by common need for English-speaking relationships in a foreign country.
“Our event is on Christmas Day, December 25, from 5-9pm,” Pastor Castillo continued. “From 5 to 6 is reception snacks and fellowship, 6 to 7pm dinner and 7 to 9pm Caroloke, Drama, Dance and Christmas games, and gift exchange. This will be held at the Holiday Inn Ballroom at Hua Cai Holiday Inn, Carrefour Wangjing (subway line 14, DonghuQu station).”
“Everyone is welcome, there will be no translators and we discourage people seeking language exchange or business relationships. (It’s really annoying!) We are coming together to celebrate Christmas and help the orphans in doing so.”
What does it cost?
“It is free. We only ask everyone coming for dinner to bring a dish or RMB 50 to chip in for catering. Some people can’t cook, so they may enjoy catered food if they just chip in. If you arrive at 7pm then no need to cook or donate towards dinner.”
“For the gift exchange, we only ask if you want a gift you bring a gift. We are asking everyone not to buy a gift. Find something around your home that you don’t use, wrap it up and give it as a gift. We will play “Name That Carol” and everyone will get a gift. Save your money to donate to the orphans on Christmas day; you can do so by bringing a brand new toy, clothes or money.”
Which orphanages does the event support?
“We support two orphanages in Beijing,” Castillo said. “One is Dew Drops Little Flower. These orphanages provide housing, food, medical and care for their primary needs. Our objective focuses on the education of orphans. After 16 years old the kids must think about how to survive the real world on their own. They need to be empowered beyond the charity system.
“Our projects include hospice care for orphans, group educational foster care, special care for infants, long-term care for severely disabled children, and special causes. Our vision is to give helpless children the tools they need in life not only to survive but to thrive.
Pastor Castillo told us why this charity event is close to his heart.
“I was an orphan. At 15 years old I lost my last parent and ended up a ward of the State for two or three years. After I was 18 I had no place to go, no skill and no education. So a Church in Chicago helped me rent a home, get into community college, get a GED [General Educational Development test, equivalent to a high school diploma] then sent me to university, paying all my tuition, dorm and books.
“Now I am a successful and famous expat in China, and it’s my goal to empower kids beyond the system as myself. So this coming 2017 Semester we are partnering with one of Beijing’s best international schools, Vision International School, to send ten orphans to school.”