Our sponsored boy had a birthday in November. The little man turned 7.
Because he lives so far away in Tanzania, letters take at least a month, if not more, to reach him (they go through a careful process through Tear Fund/Compassion who we sponsor through which does also prolong the process, but so worth it to know that he will receive and enjoy them, and write back to us).
This year one of my goals was to start treating our sponsored children more as family members and less as social obligations. A lot of people sponsor kids, which I think is awesome. But I have felt a little convicted that for me personally it is important that I treat my sponsored kids with love and respect. This, for me, means that I am not sponsoring them just to 'do my duty' but because I genuinely want good for each of their special lives. I want to get to know them, as much as is possible across the distance and language barriers that separate us. I want to pray for them, write to them, and remember their birthdays. This last one has been a sore point for me over the past years. I always seem to forget their birthdays. I've realised this is partly because I don't treat them as family birthdays. Family birthdays are REALLY important in my family. A birthday is your one special day of the year. You get to choose the food for a family celebration. The silverwear and crystal come out for the meal. The night before you basically got locked in your room as most family members were making birthday cards. I owe a lot of this to my mum, who really values birthdays and works hard to make them extra special. So, I realised that I don't treat my sponsored kids birthdays as equally important as family birthdays, and decided that this needs to change. The next issue was how to do that, when I know very well that I can't send them a big package (customs issues means the organisation can get huge fees to clear them, plus the items might not be appropriate, etc). I also can't just send them a card a week before, like I do with my brothers who live in Australia...it would be way too late. So what I figured out is that I need to put the sponsored kids in my birthday list. We increased our giving allowance, to include small financial gifts for their birthdays (Compassion encourages a small monetary gift, which their local worker then spends with the child and their family members - Haji has bought a mattress in the past, and Mariam shoes. This way the gifts are relevant and useful, and they also support the local community economy where the kids live). And what I've done is instead of celebrating their birthdays on the actual day, I've decided we will celebrate them at least a month early.
So here's what we did in October:
This is made of A4 paper, folded up easily to post, and coloured in by myself, Boyo and my mum. I did invite a few friends to come and have desert to celebrate with us, but no one ended up coming. The poster idea comes from my childhood. For quite a few years there we used to make these posters for each others birthdays. Many happy hours were spent drawing and colouring, then the poster would be displayed for the week on the wall, usually near where the birthday dinner was to be held.
He should hopefully have received it by now. I wonder what he thinks?
Sunday, 12th December, 2010