December 25 is a working day in China, but instead of attending his Chinese classes at the University, Fr. Jijo accepted the invitation of Sr. Rosario to share Christmas with the sick. He shares his story:
Fr. Jijo with Sr. Rosario
There is a bold woman of 84 years in Huilai who takes care of the 20 plus leprosy patients in a leprosy village. Being an old acquaintant, I had promised her to be with them for Christmas. It took me 7 hours of bus journey from Zhuhai to reach this dusty old time pottery town. I was picked up by a young girl on a rickety scooter to the lepers village about 7 tortuous Km. away from the town. Somewhere during the conversation, the girl told me, she was also a patient. I asked her, “does it matter?” “Of course,” she chuckled, “to some.” It took me some time to digest the stigma that they silently bear for contracting an illness that they are not responsible for.
But there was a Christmas miracle awaiting me. It left a deep impact in my thoughts. There is an young girl who was affected by the sickness and was almost on the brink of death because of the allergy she had for the medications. But today she is the picture of a bubbly young woman with a handsome boyfriend. Although, now, she lives with him outside the leper’s village, she came back to the village to celebrate Christmas with them. The couple took part joyfully in a Christmas drama we played to entertain the inmates. The way both of them went around wishing all the inmates brought tears to many eyes. It is an act of Christmas adventure from the part of the young boy to make a decision to live with her, knowing all her past. I find an unconditional Christmas love story in their lives, another daring Joseph.
'Daring Joseph and his wife'
Besides learning Chinese in the University, Fr. Jijo also helps a group of students from Tibet in learning English. Here are groups of them in their traditional attires during the New Year celebrations.
Tibetan students with Fr. Jijo
In the traditional attires of Tibet