In Congo, when it’s your birthday, YOU are expected to bring cake or something for everyone. So I’ve found that people won’t advertise their birthdays because they don’t have the money to provide cake, beignets, or soda for everyone. You know how after we sing happy birthday in the US, we sing silly things like “and many more, on channel 4” or what ever it is that people say. Here they sing “give me my cake, where is my cake” to the tune of happy birthday.
So my Generation Hope class is my favorite thing I do here. FAVORITE. Even when I’m having a bad day, I get in that class and I feel like I come alive just by their desire to learn and interact and discuss. It’s a great group of kids. Last Wednesday, I had planned to surprise them and bring passion fruit juice and beignets. 1. Because I love surprises, 2. Because they are awesome and 3. because I love giving surprises 🙂 (many of the kids haven’t eaten yet either, so I knew it would be a little sustenance for their trip home).
So towards the end of class, I brought out the surprise. Guilain asked why I brought all the treats. I explained that I wanted to surprise them and I wanted them to feel important and special to me- because they are. Then, for some odd reason I explained birthdays in the US and how our custom is to pitch in as friends and buy something to celebrate the birthday person. Really, no idea why I talked about that. It wasn’t relevant. We continued our discussion on identity and truth while eating and drinking. Guilain kept raising his hand and saying he had something to say off topic (I’ve trained them well to stay on topic). Finally at the end of class, I told him he had the floor.
He announced that it was his birthday. He was keeping it a secret for the very reason that he had no money to bring goodies. He felt overwhelmed with joy at this party… it felt like it was for him and to celebrate him. He was so happy he started dancing while we sang happy birthday (Stevie Wonder style, not “Office Space” style)… then I made him dance for the camera. Then it turned into somewhat of a talent show for dancing.
For anyone who sees on facebook, kids calling me “mama chicken” or “mama kookoo” it’s because of my chicken analogy. They asked me before I went to the US in May if I really loved them. I explained that if you have a mama chicken in a coop with baby chicks and the coop catches on fire, the mama chicken will get all the chicks together and sit on them. She will burn to death to save the chicks. That’s how I feel about these kids. I love these kids. I love this class. When everything else is hard. This class is like a power bar for the soul.
on my iphone this is much better quality… I guess that’s what to expect when it takes an hour and a half to upload 1:21… c’est la vie.
Don’t try to take a picture without me… it won’t work.