A Birthday to Remember

The children who celebrated their birthdays in January, February, and March spend the day in Santa Cruz shopping, eating, and relaxing.
March 1, 2013 - Bolivia

One of the boys shows off their new reggaeton cd he purchased for his 16th birthday.

Twenty four children at NPH Bolivia jumped out of bed at 5:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning last weekend. Excited for a full day ahead, they quickly ate breakfast at 6:30 and then boarded the bus to make the two hour trip to Bolivia´s largest city Santa Cruz. The reason for this trip – a birthday celebration filled with shopping, eating, and relaxation.

Once every three months, volunteer Jan Schuler brings all the children celebrating their birthdays in those months on a ´shopping spree´ Bolivian style. When they arrive to the new market, they receive a little birthday money according to their age. For three hours, they break off in groups with their friends and make their birthday gift purchases. While almost all choose to make practical purchases (a backpack, clothes, shoes), some like to treat themselves to a game or a small mp3. Many of them also buy candies or cookies to take home to their brothers and sisters. One girl even bought her older brother a baseball cap with her money.

After shopping, the whole group has lunch at an all you can eat buffet in the center. They drink soda (a rare treat) and pile food on their plates again and again until they´re full. The children´s favorite part of the day comes next while relaxing in the plaza for a couple hours. They eat ice cream, take pictures, and some play a couple video games in the internet cafe. This past week, the beloved former NPH volunteer Angela Nielsen as well as two other current volunteers met the children in the plaza to make their day even more special.

The day doesn´t end there though!

Several years ago, a tradition started. The father of the Argote family worked at a large supermarket in Santa Cruz. Since the bus needed to pass the supermarket to return to NPH they stopped so the Argote children could see their father. Now, even though he no longer works at the supermarket, the trip still includes the visit. Oftentimes, it is the first time that the children have entered a supermarket. They love to see the variety that it offers but are confused by the price tags; they´re used to negotiating in the markets. Several are timid to make purchases as they have never purchased anything at a window, and they are not entirely sure what to do.

Finally, after a long day, they return home exhausted for dinner and share their purchases with their siblings. They can be seen for the next several days proudly wearing their same new clothes over and over.

Kate Dorman   
Communication Officer




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