One of my all time favorite books/the words that kept me going early on are found in Reckless Faith by Beth Guckenberger. Her and her husband started an organization working with children’s homes in Mexico.  In many ways, she has written TCHP’s playbook.

In one of the earlier chapters she talks about the heart of an ‘orphan’.  She uses a piece of paper to symbolize the heart of the child.  And then begins ripping it in half over and over as she lists the traumas, losses and hurts that each child experiences.

“‘Whenever that first moment of abuse or abandonment happens, it’s like ripping a heart in half.’ I rip the paper. ‘Then, after that first rip, more start coming.  You aren’t invited to someone’s birthday party. [rip] You don’t feel good and no one cares. [rip] It’s your birthday and no one remembers. [rip] It’s visitation day and no once comes to visit.’ [rip]

With each rip the heart gets smaller and smaller and harder and harder so it’s no wonder that when {I tell them} ‘God loves you and has a plan for you life,’ {they give} me a look that says, ‘Great plan. I don’t want anything to do with a God who had this in mind.'”

screen-shot-2016-11-27-at-4-05-22-pmMoises likes the color red.  He does not like to play soccer.  (Which is ABSOLUTELY shocking in Honduras.) He’s been working hard with the workers who have come from the community to rebuild after the fire. He had me convinced for years that he can’t read or write.  Until he wrote me a beautiful letter a few months ago.  (Little sneak.)

On November 30th, he’ll be 13.

He rambled as he cleaned every single fleck of paint off of his brush and then he landed on the real stinger.  “My birthday is next week and no one is going to remember.  It’s always so boring.”  All I could think about was how my niece was talking about all the details of her party for weeks before her birthday and Moises doesn’t even think anyone will acknowledge his entrance into the all important teen years.

This is not ok.  And this year we’re going to fix this.  For years, I’ve sent them a small gift of their choosing.  But sometimes they get their gift a month or two before or after.  Better than nothing.  But best is what we’re after.  This year, we have Haley living in Honduras and visiting Proniño most days.  We now know that the kids will get their gifts right away like David pictured below.  But it gets even better.  A few weeks ago, Elsa, who’s in charge of education in Proniño, slipped in a little proposal for birthdays.  She has seen their sadness time and again and this year she reached out to TCHP to get her the few supplies she’ll need to make sure each child feels honored and loved more than normal for 24 hours.  Her idea is simple:

  1.  Remind employees of whose birthday is coming up.

    David receiving his gift ON his birthday last week!

    David receiving his gift ON his birthday last week!

  2. Let the child decide the menu for lunch on his or her birthday.
  3. All of the kids get out of chores in order to play celebratory games for a while.
  4. The evening ends with cake and a piñata.

I love the simplicity of this plan and I love that it was initiated by someone within the home.  And even more, I loved being able to tell Moises that his birthday will not be forgotten this year or the next or…you get it.  Haley will be there with his gift and a little something from KFC.  And next year, hopefully his day will end with singing before diving into that cake and piñata.

We have the opportunity to catch that piece of his heart that’s been ripped off in past years and catch it as it flutters to the ground.  Every single child we love has had a birthday pass with not a soul acknowledging that that day was any different than the one that came before.  We cannot go back in time and fix that, but we can make sure that this year, not one child is forgotten.  Elsa and Haley in Proniño and Jilli and Franklin in Crecer will be the ones squealing over them and giving them a pinch to grow an inch in 2017.  And today I’m asking you to donate towards the cake, the gift, the piñata, the physical reminder that we care about their interests, we care about him feeling like an individual. We want them to look forward to this one day a year in anticipation with no fear that it’ll be nothing more than a disappointment once again. [rip]

There are so many little pieces of their hearts fluttering to the ground that sometimes it can feel overwhelming. But this? This we can change.  In 2017, we need $800 to cover birthday celebration costs for all of the kids in Proniño.  Click here to support us in reaching our goal for Sharing Joy 2016!

screen-shot-2016-11-27-at-4-06-16-pm

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