In early January, most Spanish children look forward to the arrival of the Three Kings (or Tres Reyes) who are far more important than Father Christmas, as these are the gift bringers that the children most want to see. None look forward more eagerly than the children of the Per Ells day care centre in Turis.
Fortunately for them, this event has been sponsored by the local Freemason’s White River Lodge for the past nine years. Each year two or three Masons dress up as Melchor, Gaspar and Baltasar and make the journey to the day care centre to give the children a treat.
The centre currently caters for around twenty severely disabled children who are able to attend, usually on a daily basis; this allows them to meet with other children and also gives their parents a short respite from their children’s constant care needs.
As is often the case, the centre receives almost no money from the local authorities and relies almost entirely on volunteers and charitable donations. Over the past nine years the Freemasons have done a great deal to make the children’s lives a little easier both by making donations and giving up their time to help whenever possible.
The centre also has a nearby garden centre which has been adapted so that up to ten children can visit and stay overnight or even, in some cases, for a weekend which gives them a much needed break from their daily routine. Originally this building was unable to be used as there was no electricity to provide power, light and heating. However, a generator was sourced and the local Masons supplied, and had installed, all of the electrical cabling necessary to turn this previously unused building into a useful extra facility.
On Sunday, 6th January, over fifty parents and guests arrived to join in the fun and the children were very excited. They became even more excited as the Three Kings arrived and filed into the assembly hall ready to greet them. The Three Kings took their places at the front and one by one the children came up to meet them to be given a small gift, some sweets and often a big hug as well.
It was both humbling and motivating to see how these children reacted and it is obvious that they are very well looked after and loved by the carers at the centre, many of whom are the parents of the disabled children.
The centre was originally built and donated by a former owner of the Valencian Football Club and is now a much used feature in the town of Turis. The Masons of the White River Lodge have done a fantastic job in continuing that tradition and the children’s lives are a little better for it. We were again joined on our visit by Ms Jackie Moore who kindly acted as both liaison and translator and we are very grateful to her for giving up her time to help us.
If you wish to help Per Ells they are always grateful for any donation and you may feel free to approach them directly.
If you would like more information regarding Freemasonry, please contact me on the email address given below.