Birthdays are joyous occasions, when the loved ones and their existence are celebrated. The mode and venues of celebration, vary from one family to another. While some choose to throw lavish parties in five star hotels, malls or movie halls, most of the rest, choose to have a quiet ‘friends and family’ time at home.
Besides the above two, there is yet another lot of people, whom we can idolize as ‘philanthropic’ humans; they are those that solemnize the joyous occasion, by sharing with the needy. They visit orphanages, old age homes, or shelters for the underprivileged, to donate funds, cut their cake and to distribute goodies, like pastries, chocolate, bags, books, stationary etc.
These events normally start with cake cutting. The parents and friends, plus the ‘birthday boy or birthday girl’ are cheered by the kids at the ‘homes’ on entry. The kids are made to sing, clap and dance, for the benefit of the celebrating families. They are made to sit or stand in line and accept the stuff distributed by the families. They are expected to smile, display gratitude and express adulation during the whole period.
While the kindness of the donors and the families is laudable, the way the event unfolds, ends up being a bit humiliating, if not traumatizing, to the kids. These events are a constant reminder of their misfortune. While the younger lot, who had not seen any other stuff, do not suffer much, the older ones, especially those who had lost their parents midway, end up feeling pathetic. The taste of the treat, hardly compensates for the misery, they feel. Sometimes, when these events fall right in the middle of exams, these kids are forced to leave their studies aside and dance and prance around, like animals in circuses or zoos. An orphan named Crystal once told me that she referred to the whole ‘shebang’ as an ‘orphan parade’!!
No, I am not telling people that they should stop being kind; nor am I advising them, to stop sharing their happy days, with those little ones. Please donate, I say. Share goodies, spend time and interact at an individual level with those who choose to. It is very noble of you. I however do humbly submit that, those kids and their sensitivities, need to be respected too!
Make your payment anonymously. Supply the stuff you plan to distribute, well in advance. Don’t stand around, supervising the distribution, or behaving like the ultimate donor. Instead, tell them to complete the distribution, before the party. Make the party an informal one. Mingle around, be humble, make the kids feel that you are one of them. Speak only to those who seek advice, or come to you, for help or suggestions. Don’t force them to prance around, or perform, for your benefit. Make the event, as pleasant and memorable, for them, as it is, for you.
Before concluding, I would like to share a small message from the kids:
Kindly, you chose to share your day with us, at the orphanage…
The world shall laud the generosity you displayed, at ‘such a young age’!!
I clapped heartily and sang along loudly, when you blew the candle…
But being paraded for charity, is not an easy privilege to handle!!
Thanks for the tasty treat; I shall stay grateful and heartily wish you…
Please don’t make me dance, I am not an animal in a circus or a zoo!!