Rafa’s First Christmas
Rafael Bermudez, Director of NPH Mexico, looks back fondly at his memories of celebrating Christmas as a child at NPH, and later on sharing his Christmas traditions with the children at other NPH homes.
Rafa came to NPH when his was five years old, along with his five siblings. He remembers fondly his first of many Christmas celebrations at NPH. The older children decorated the main building with paper flowers and piñatas. At that time, a group of nuns looked after the children and showed them how to break open the pinatas with sticks. Rafa remembers the warm hot chocolate and freshly baked bread which awaited them after all the festivities. Before coming to NPH he had never celebrated Christmas. Rafa and his siblings grew up in extreme poverty in the state of Guerrero, and there was often not enough money for food, let alone any special events. “At NPH, I experienced Christmas as one of the most joyous occasions, with all the children together as one big family.”
From the 16th to the 24th of December, families across Mexico gather to sing litanies and Christmas carols, break piñatas, and eat delicious Mexican food. The Christmas season only finishes on the 6th of January, the epiphany, where the Three Kings bring presents to Jesus. In accordance with Catholic tradition, the kids at NPH Mexico receive their Christmas presents on this day.
Rafa was able to study in the United States thanks to a special leadership programme, created by Fr. William Wasson, NPH’s Founder. Rafa remembers that while he was homesick on Christmas, missing his brothers and sisters in Mexico, he felt grateful to be able to celebrate with his dear NPH family – Fr. Wasson and a few other scholarship students. At that time Fr. Wasson was living in Arizona because he was ill with cancer. He told Rafa and his friends, “Thank you for praying for me. I hope to get better soon so I can be back in Mexico with you all soon.” Fr. Wasson gave Rafa $20 to buy some clothes because it was snowing and he didn’t have enough warm clothes. “It was a Christmas miracle because I was able to buy 20 items of clothing for just $20.”
Now that Rafa is the National Director of NPH Mexico, he treasures the memories he has of Fr. Wasson. When he was a child and had first arrived at NPH, Rafa felt worried and nervous, but Fr. Wasson and the caregivers made him feel welcome and at ease. That’s why Rafa feels it’s so important to make sure Christmas is a special time at NPH Mexico. For some of the children, it’s the first time they’ve ever celebrated Christmas. It’s an important opportunity to make sure everyone feels welcome and at home.
When Rafa finished his university studies, he became the Sponsorship and Visitor Coordinator at NPH Honduras, a role he held for 10 years. During his time in Honduras, he helped introduce Mexican Christmas traditions which are still followed today – such as the posadas. This is when the children go from home to home singing Christmas carols, acting out the nativity play.
Rafa is very grateful for the continued support of our Godparents and supporters who donate to NPH Mexico’s Christmas fund each year. Rafa admits that there’s nothing better than seeing the joy that Christmas brings to the children each year. “With little things, you can do a lot and bring so much joy and happiness to many children at this time of the year. Thank you and Merry Christmas from NPH Mexico,” Rafa smiles.