ChildaHappy Birthday, my dear friends!!
Birthdays in Haiti, at least at HFC, are hardly noticed. The kids would get prayed for during evening devotions, and everyone gets a chance to say what they like about the birthday boy or girl and what he/she could improve, but otherwise, nothing. Birthdays are so minimized that when I tried to make a database with all the kids' birth dates, a lot of them did not know when theirs were or how old they were! I can understand the lack of celebration - they just don't have enough money to have a party or cake or anything for the kids. Well, I decided that couldn't continue while I was there. So during my stay, when the kids had their birthdays, I would give them stickers and bubble gum and a little birthday card, and then we would all sing for them. When I left in May, I handed out candy, stickers and cards to all the kids that were going to have birthdays after my departure.
The best part of our birthday tradition was the birthday spankings. The kids had never heard of giving birthday spankings but once they caught onto the idea, they loved it! They would all crowd around and count out loud while I gave the birthday kid his/her spankings. And of course, when it came time for my birthday, they ALL gave me 22 spankings. Whatever gentleness I had spanked them with was completely forgotten in their enthusiasm and I ended up with very sore buttocks.
The ironic thing about the lack of birthday attention was that, entirely of their own accord, the kids threw Kim an elaborate birthday party when she turned 23 in November. Then they realized that I was not going to be in Haiti for my August birthday, so they chose a day in April and threw me an even more elaborate party. I have told this story a million times, but I will tell a short version of it. Without my knowledge, the kids prepared 3 model runways/fashion shows, 4 songs, a rap, and several dances. They also did my hair and my make-up, gave me a pedicure and manicure, helped cook a birthday feast, decorated the downstairs courtyard, made me cards, and turned my bedroom into a starry sky scene. It was amazing, definitely one of my fondest memories of my time in Haiti and one of the reasons that I am so proud of those kids. I made a thank you card for the boys and one for the girls that said, "Thank you for the best birthday of my life!" The one in the girls' room lasted a month and the boys' one is still hanging in their living room. (In case you're wondering what's going on in that picture, as I was cutting my cake, someone counted one-two-three, and then all the girls tried to kiss me! Hence the shocked look on my face.)