December is here, which means, some combination of this...

Joy. Stress. Crowds. Lights. Lists. So many groups chats. Awkward cheek kisses. Gifts. Trees. Michael Buble or Mariah Carey. School holidays. Out of office replies and, last but absolutely not least, Jesus.

To calm things down, let's head to the island of Mindanao in the Philippines to make, Parol.

Press play :)

Get your snacks and carols ready, we're making parol!

Let's go little deeper...

This is a family friendly activity, yes, for fun, but also to help start discussions about culture and the meaning of Christmas, in easy, non-intense ways. No one wants to be that person at Christmas.

Below, we've got a short video from Mark, Almenica Belle and Shiela Mae, the children seen in the how-to video and then a few easy conversation starters.

Press play and we'll chat on the other side...

Family friendly discussion points

  • What does Christmas mean to you and why?
  • Parols symbolize hope, joy and light, what does that mean in our world today?
  • Can you remember a moment where you felt hope and joy?
  • How do you feel after watching that video? Did something stand out?
  • The world is full of different cultures, but what things make humans similar?
  • What are three things you're grateful for that you sometimes might take for granted?
  • Is there someone in our world who needs hope and joy this Christmas? If so, what could we do to help?
  • And... where should we hang the parol?

Mark, Almenica Belle and Shiela Mae live in a difficult place and their situations are complex.

Two of them do not know or see their biological parents and one of them sees her familiy once a year. Thankfully, they are surrounded by love and community but you can hear the ache in their stories.

Your gift is helping them practically, with school supplies, food kits and hygiene kits. The ability to stay in school when so many other children go to work or are recuited into militant groups is a key to ensuring they can build a future.

It's no surprise when asked about Christmas hopes no one spoke of 'presents' even though that's okay. Health, connection, safety, provision and togetherness were the key things on their Christmas lists.

This Christmas may you know the gift of these things too. And may you never doubt the reach of your gift to children living in the world's most complex and dangerous places to practically support this.

What can I do?

Here's three ways for you to go a little deeper - chat, act or share!

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Mindanao, Philippines

Marawi and Cotabato City are located on the island of Mindanao in the south of the Philippines. The predominantly Muslim population lives in the crossfire of conflict between rival militant and terrorist groups.

In 2017, a siege began and everyone's life changed in an instant.

For 5 months, militant and government forces fought, destroying thousands of homes, businesses and infrastructure. Up to 360,000 people were forced to flee to neighbouring regions. Four years on, many families still can not return home and live in Internally Displaced Population (IDP) settlements.

A lack of security, health, food and education mean children are highly vulnerable to recruitment offers by militant groups. Childhood Rescue's will help children build their futures through education, health and peace building.

  • Terrorist and militant behaviour undermine social stability and children's futures

  • Terrorist attacks and kidnappings are common in the region

  • Natural disasters cause significant difficulties for families in the region