Hani Sheta: Santa Claus for 24 hours, bringing joy to the poor



Sun, 31 Dec 2017 - 10:26 GMT


Sun, 31 Dec 2017 - 10:26 GMT

Hani Sheta, a real life Santa Claus giving gifts to poor Children - photo via Hani A-rahman Shetaea's Facebook page

Hani Sheta, a real life Santa Claus giving gifts to poor Children - photo via Hani A-rahman Shetaea's Facebook page

CAIRO – 1 January 2017: Which one of us never dreamed of being visited by Santa Claus on Christmas Eve, carrying in a big red velvet bag many gifts and treats? Which of us did not wish for sweet wishes and gifts wrapped in our dreams, hanging on the Christmas tree, which we had always painted in our imagination?

Santa Claus, that impossible dream of a white-like cloud with his hand on the sky and the other on our hearts, is now possibly closer thanks to young Egyptian Engineer Hani Hani Abdul Rahman Sheta, aged 45. Hani admits that when he was young, he dreamed of being visited by Santa Claus someday, leaving him a gift by the Christmas tree. However, Santa Claus never came, because, as Hany points out, “[Hany] was born into a small, medium-sized family.” Hany, as a little boy, became convinced over time that Santa Claus does not go to the poor!

Hani grew up and became a successful petroleum engineer in an international oil companies, and, thanks to his excellence at work, became wealthy. To be Santa Claus was the first thing he thought of on the first Christmas night after his conditions improved. As he said in his conversation with Egypt Today, “I wanted to be a joy maker, since I was deprived from it when I was small. I wanted to be the unexpected surprise for children, especially the poor ones. I wanted to be Santa Claus myself!”

Gifts are the right of poor children as well…

Hani Sheta, also known as Santa Claus, decided to change grief to happiness in the homes of poor children on Christmas Eve. His deep human experience began through his participation in the charitable work of distributing winter clothes to the poor at the start every winter season. But, the idea of Santa Claus all the time remained in his imagination.

He explained, “Happiness is not only about providing food and clothing to the poor, why do not we provide them with gifts and toys too, especially for children?... Why happiness is not a recreational thing, far from the basic needs of every human being; luxury in the lives of these people is non-existent and sometimes impossible.”

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Santa Claus Hani Sheta gives away gifts to Children- photo via Hani A-rahman Shetaea's Facebook page

Hani continues, “Almost four years ago the decision was made to create a page on Facebook, asking everyone who knows a poor family with kids – that can be visited by Santa Claus with his candy, toys and gifts – to send their address and name.”

He was surprised after the launch of the page that he received more than 1,200 messages from people requesting a visit from Santa Claus to them and some of their relatives and acquaintances.

Wishes Fulfilled

The letters sent to the real Santa Claus were not only for the sake of providing gifts to the children, but there were other wishes from fathers and mothers who were making wishes for the New Year! Hani stated, “I have got many wishes, beyond my ability to anticipate, not a gift or a certain game, but some are asking me to come in tonight.

For the birthday of a family member or even for a family reunion after separation due to quarrels, the idea being that children would be more willing to reconcile in the presence of Santa Claus! Letters where children expressed their desire to see Santa Claus in real life.

They did not ask for gifts. Just that they see him, as they had not seen him except in cartoons. It reached a point where some families would buy for their son a gift that he loves and ask me to go by myself to deliver the gift, which they would give me in secret one or two days before the visit!”

The Earthquake region was the biggest challenge

Many challenges and multiple hardships faced Hani in his humanitarian work, in which he spreads happiness to human beings wherever he went. Nevertheless, the real challenge for Hani was in a specific residential area.

Hany described his experience, “The earthquake housing area in Mokattam is one of the most impoverished, and has been a major challenge for me to go to, especially since it has dozens of shanty houses. The idea that children accept the existence of Santa Claus in such tragic circumstances was subject to the children’s reaction themselves and the extent of my presence among them.

The experience was successful and I managed to enter 30 houses there, and I cannot describe the happiness and joy with which the children greeted me and the overwhelming emotions of their parents. Poverty is the poverty of hearts and not the poverty of the pockets!”

The message of the martyr's mother to Santa Claus

There are dozens of unforeseen humanitarian situations in Sheta’s memory. Over the years, he decided to be the closest person to children's hearts, even for just one night, giving them hope and showing them that there is good in the world.

Despite such attempts by Hany, there is still one situation that remains in his heart, never to be forgotten. Hany recalled, slightly tearing up, as he usually does when he remembers this story, “I had a message from a mother who asked me to visit her son on Christmas Eve, and I was surprised that she was the mother of a martyr, one of the heroes in our war on terror. Her son was killed in North Sinai in 2015 at the age of 20.

This hero had a younger 10-year-old brother, and the martyr's mother told me that her young son became sad after the martyrdom of his eldest and only brother. He is no longer happy, and as a mother her means are meager; she asked me to visit her son and she was going to buy a 10-pound toy and give it to me in secret before I visit the house, so that the little boy would be surprised.”

Santa Claus Hani Sheta gives away gifts to Children- photo via Hani A-rahman Shetaea's Facebook page

Santa Claus Visits Grandpa…

Unlike human stories with deep and sometimes confusing emotions, there are other funny stories that Hani, who decided to become Santa Claus for 24 hours every year, cannot forget.

He remembered, “Once I received a letter from a little girl who lived in the Fifth Settlement, and she wanted to surprise her grandfather with a visit from Santa Claus, because he is born on December 25. So, she wanted me to give him his birthday present. Indeed, I went to Grandpa's house and was surprised by a family gathering in a large villa with more than 40 people, and I presented the gift to Grandpa, who was over eighty years old.

The family's delight was indescribable, but what happened then would make me laugh for a 100 years. As grandpa got out of his pocket the sum of LE 500 and he said to me, “This is for you, so, that you go home in a taxi and get something for your kids.” I replied, “My car is parked outside, my dear grandfather, do not worry.” I refused, of course, to take the money and thanked him, because this is only humanitarian work; I do this to make others happy.“

The Happiness Jacket

The child most influential in Hani's life. He says: "I happened to stand with a young kid about 8 years old, and this situation was the reason behind any innovation I do since then to please children. I am supplementing the message of happiness that I carry for them.

This child was a street child, and one day while I was going one of my Santa Claus visits, I found him dressed in the bitter cold in a short-sleeve summer shirt. So, I immediately decided to give him a wool jacket I had with me in the car, but the child left me and ran quickly. I was very surprised by the situation, and I kept looking for him by car in the area until I found him, and I asked him, "Why didn't you take the jacket and ran in a hurry? He answered, "Because I liked it so much and I feared that you would take it from me one day again and my happiness will turn into a new sadness in my life!"

A child’s smile is worth a lot

Despite the hardship that Hani has often endured to achieve the simple wishes of children, he considers it to be a very sublime and great message, facilitated by God, saying: Happiness is not in owning money or positions, happiness is having a big heart.

If you can have a heart for one minute, it would be the happiest moment of your life. What do you think if you have the heart of an innocent child that laughs from the bottom of his heart because he is happy to fulfill a wish, he would consider a dream? This happiness immediately transcends to you, and it will make you happy all your life.



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