LWB Loves Birthdays!
“I love the child I sponsor through Love Without Boundaries so much I want to know how I can send her or him a birthday present!”
One question that volunteers of Love Without Boundaries are asked frequently is how to send a birthday present to a sponsored child. Sponsors of children become quite attached to the child they receive quarterly reports of in a year. Sponsors pray for these children, hope for adoptive families for these children and above all desire that their sponsored child feel especially loved.
The answer to the above question of sending a gift is yes and no. First, LWB has been asked by officials in China to not give out the specific birthdays of children that we work with to the general public, as sometimes this information is used to pre-identify a child for adoption. Also, it’s wise to understand that birthdays are viewed differently in China than they are in the west. The Chinese celebrate birthdays considered special such as the first birthday, sixtieth and birthdays every ten years after the sixtieth that a person lives. Except for the first birthday, the effort of putting on a birthday celebration typically falls upon adult children bestowing honor and respect on their parents with special foods such as long life noodles and eggs. Asking orphanage or LWB staff members who are already busy with taking care of the needs of many children to celebrate one child’s birthday isn’t a custom that they are familiar with. It’s one of those differences of the west that probably makes them scratch their heads and wonder why.
Furthermore, when a child enters an orphanage, everything about the child’s life, out of necessity and limited resources, becomes group oriented. Children wear orphanage clothing—not their own set of clothes from their own closet. Children eat meals served by the orphanage in group settings. Toys are for all of the children of the orphanage. To send one present for one child in an orphanage doesn’t fit the style of life an orphanage provides. Imagine sending a very special gift to just one child in any day care that you’ve ever experienced (and children in day care in the west are accustomed to going home where things are theirs and belong to only them in space that is theirs). A special toy sent to one child in a group in an orphanage would at the very least cause tension and frustration for the recipient of the gift as well as the adult care givers. Imagine also being a child who never receives an individual special present while others do. It would be easy for that child to think he or she isn’t as important or well liked. We want all of the children in our programs to feel equally valued and loved.
LWB does encourage celebrations and extra gifts for sponsored children in the form of a group gift for either a child’s class at school, foster family or group within the orphanage that a child lives with. Gifts can be inexpensive. A donation of $25 would purchase a number of items to benefit a child in any LWB program such as:
- · A healthy snack of fruit, nuts and a drink for the child and their school or orphanage mates
- · Antibiotics for children in medical care or for one of LWB’s healing homes
- · Developmental toys for a foster home or a group of children in an orphanage
- · Formula for all infants of the orphanage
- · Paper and pencils for an entire class of Mama’s Wish students
Larger donations are gladly accepted for children as well. LWB has a wish list of group gifts that can be purchased for a sponsored child’s orphanage, foster home or classroom. Gift cards can be purchased in honor of a child’s birthday and the donation sent to any program so that the funds can be directed at the most pressing need. Furthermore, Chinese New Year and Children’s Day on June 1st are commonly accepted gift giving occasions for children in China. Donations toward group gifts on those special days would bring joy to many children.
Students at Believe In Me — Jingzhou enjoy a donation of developmental toys
Love Without Boundaries was founded and lives upon the belief that every child counts on their birthday and every day of the year. With you, we celebrate a child’s maturing and growing in healthy ways. We also work hard to remember to celebrate in a way that respects the culture they live in as well as the specific home environment in which they are being raised.
Linda Mitchell is a wife and mom to four, blog contributor for Love Without Boundaries and volunteer at her kid’s school, student of School Library Media, K-1st Sunday School Teacher…..and creative writer when she can get a word in edgewise.