“You are smart, kind and a good student.”
“I’m so glad you are my friend!”
These are just a few statements you might hear during a birthday celebration at the children’s homes we partner with in Haiti. Birthday celebrations are not common in Haiti. For many children, birthdates are not known and financial constraints make a party an unattainable luxury. However, at Harvest Care and Lighthouse Children’s Homes, birthday celebrations are a special treat for each child.
Through Back2Back’s Child Sponsorship Program, the celebrated boy or girl wakes up knowing a special day lies ahead. They manage their anticipation while navigating the normal routine of the day.
“Will this school day ever end?” he wonders.
“I wonder what the cake looks like,” she thinks.
To help make the day memorable and special, Back2Back staff or child sponsors personally choose a card and gift, with a birthday cake selected from a local bakery. But before the presents are unwrapped and the cake is cut, something unique takes place: the birthday boy or girl is asked to sit in a chair placed in the center of a circle of caregivers and friends. Each approaches the child and offers compliments and words of encouragement.
Though the children are not used to being the center of attention, it’s apparent how much the celebration means to them. Their cheeks blush and they burst into smiles as their caregivers and friends speak words of affirmation. But more importantly, all the children seem to benefit from this encouraging exchange – the receiver as well as the giver of kind words. Bonds become a little stronger and sense of belonging runs a little deeper as new words and new experiences slowly reshape belief systems forged in the past.
Small celebrations become large investments in the children’s lives. Who knew the difference a few minutes in the ‘center of the circle’ could make?