A birthday is more than gifts. Itâs an opportunity to show children that they are valued and loved â and children in poverty shouldnât have to miss out. Each culture might have its own unique traditions surrounding birthdays, and our staff ensures children feel celebrated within that tradition.
Enjoy these joyful photos of children celebrating their birthdays around the world!
Celebrating birthdays in Kenya
Poverty can erode childrenâs sense of worth, so staff at each Compassion project look for ways to counteract the damaging messages of poverty. Each church we partner with around the world decides how best to recognise childrenâs birthdays. Sometimes that means a field trip to the beach or a zoo. Other times it means a birthday cake and a small present for the birthday child.
These children in Kenya are enjoying a group birthday party at their project, complete with cake, party hats and lots of fun.
Celebrating birthdays in Indonesia
Parents of the children we serve in Indonesia often work as casual labourers, making 78p or so a day â not enough to buy birthday treats. Often the childrenâs birthdays pass unnoticed. So at one Compassion project, the staff hold a birthday party every three months for the children who had a birthday that quarter. They pray, sing, and have cake and snacks. The children love it!
The tutors also go out of their way to celebrate each child on the actual day of their birthday. They will share a piece of birthday advice or a birthday wish with the child and give them a small gift. If a childâs birthday falls on a day when they arenât visiting the project, staff will visit the child at home to deliver the gift and wish them a happy birthday. The tutors remind the children that they are loved by God, by their community and by their sponsors.
Celebrating first birthdays: Uganda
One of the most important birthday milestones for children in poverty is the first birthday. The majority of children around the world who die before they reach age five pass away before their first birthday. Thatâs why our Child Survival intervention, which works so hard to help babies and mums survive, takes special care to celebrate babiesâ first birthdays, like this celebration in Uganda, which includes birthday cake and delicious snacks and special treats.
Many families who live in poverty in La Paz, Bolivia, rarely have the opportunity to celebrate their childrenâs birthday. They simply cannot afford to. The staff at one Compassion project planned a special surprise celebration for the mums and babies to mark the childrenâs first birthdays. When the parents, children and their siblings arrived, they found themselves in a beautifully decorated room with streamers, balloons, a piĂ±ata, presents, party food and even a clown, who entertained them.
They were overjoyed, with many of the mums saying it was the first party theyâd ever attended.
Celebrating the QuinceaĂ±era in Colombia
Throughout Latin America the quinceaĂ±era is an important birthday tradition. It celebrates a girlâs 15th birthday, marking her transition from girlhood to womanhood. QuinceaĂ±eras can be quite grand â complete with tiaras, ball gowns and dancing! But for many of the girls living in poverty in Latin America, this important cultural tradition is out of their reach.
For Lesly in Colombia, her 15th birthday was just another day.
âI had dreamed of having a party, but my family had no resources for one,â says Lesly.
Knowing how important the quinceaĂ±era is, staff at a Compassion project in Colombia plan a special party every year to celebrate the girls who are turning 15. This year, it was Lesly, Celena and Ledisâ turn to be celebrated.
âI was really excited when I was told that the project was going to prepare a 15th birthday celebration for me and two other girls!â
âEvery time I receive a letter or greeting from my sponsor, it makes me feel important and loved,â recalls Lesly.
Celebrating birthdays in the Dominican Republic
Sponsors are able to send a monetary gift to the child they sponsor for their birthdays. Lorielky in the Dominican Republic has received birthday gifts from her sponsor for the past several years. Her mum, Delmi, has helped Lorielky use the money to buy clothes and toys. And for the past few years, Delmi has also been able to use the gift to do something really special â to throw Lorielky a birthday party at home!
Celebrating birthdays with greetings from around the world
As a sponsor, your birthday greetings are also an incredible way to show your sponsored child how valued and loved they are. This next collection of photos shows the impact your birthday messages have and how your words are treasured for years to come.
Joyce in Kenya loves the birthday wishes she receives from her sponsor. This simple message made her day, âHappy Birthday Joyce, we love you and we are praying for you every day. You are wonderfully made!â
The picture held up by 10-year-old Amy from Ecuador sums up the meaning of the birthday gifts and messages she receives from her sponsor.
âI am grateful to my sponsor for my gifts, says Amy. âShe always remembers me on my birthday, and she makes me feel loved.â
Eleven-year-old Kaylane was born with a large birthmark which her classmates used to taunt her about. Thanks to her sponsorâs letters and birthday greetings Ana knows how beautiful and important she is.
âWhen I read my sponsorâs letters, I feel so loved, Ana says. âShe makes me feel so special! On my last birthday, she sent me a letter wishing me an amazing day and saying that this date is important to her too."
Does your sponsored child have a birthday coming up? Why not take a moment to send a birthday greeting today?
Thanks for making these special memories happen! A birthday party, present or a greeting might seem small in the grand scheme of things. But this is just one of the ways that you are helping children in poverty live a full life, getting to see their worth and potential, just like other children.
Thank you for helping children celebrate their birthdays and make these special memories happen! Youâre bringing so much hope, joy and light into the lives of children in poverty!
A version of this blog was originally published by our friends at Compassion International.