Pageant contestants share with other children
When a child receives a gift, a hug, a peck on the cheek or is duly celebrated, the smile it brings on their faces is unspeakable, but when they are able to express their delight and bask in the moment in the company of other children, there is no greater joy.
The 30 contestants of the Mini Miss Manchester competition recently travelled down to the Hanbury Children's Home, some for the first time, to share in a day of fun, excitement and brotherly/sisterly love.
"We brought the girls here to the home to get them exposed somewhat ... . Some of them are comfortable in their lives and they are not really aware of the challenges other children face. We also want them to develop an attitude of sharing and learning to give back to the less fortunate, and I believe it was a success," Shanella Palmer, coordinator of the pageant, told The Gleaner.
With the best gift items, cakes and goodies galore, the children were eager to mix and mingle.
"The children feel a sense of pride when they do these things. They were just eager to give all they could and make the other children happy. The little trip really helped to alleviate the stigma attached to children's homes as well, because some of the children thought the home would be filled with sick children and they would be dirty, but they realised that it was not so ... ," said Palmer.
For Junior Miss Manchester, Naja Aswan, her trip to the home was like a home-away-from-home experience.
"It wasn't much different from being at home. The environment was warm and welcoming, and to top it off, we got to celebrate with someone who was having their birthday. I felt I was truly at home just with a lot more brothers and sisters," she said.
The aspiring paediatrician feels that with all the children being abused, killed and going missing, the children's home remains the safe haven for them.
"I am happy there are children's homes, and if I could start an outreach project, I would ensure it would be geared towards helping children learn and grow academically."
CLEAN, SAFE HOMES
Echoing her sentiments, six-year-old Mini Miss Manchester Aaprel Allen expressed glee at the existence of clean, safe homes for less fortunate children and the need for more love to be shown to all the children nationwide.
"At first, when I reached the home, it wasn't fun for me. I cried because I was told that some of the children were being abused and some were orphans, and I looked at it and said it could have been me, but I am happy that they are in a better place and they are safe."
She added: "I want all the children of the world to know right from wrong, good touch and bad touch, I want them to be the best they can be, and I want them to feel loved."
They say children relate best to those their age and, indeed, in their own little way, each child of the home was left with an extra dose of love and motivation.
"Babies are so so cute, and I just want them to have the chance to grow up and move on to do well at school, and then move on to having good jobs and having a good life ... . I understand that some of them may feel down. It could even be me without a parent, but I want the best for them, and I want them to be happy," said Little Miss Manchester Talea Williams.