Sunday the 18th of August is el Día del Niño here in Argentina. Children´s Day, as it is known around the world, was created by the UN in 1925 to honor children (more on that here). In Argentina at least it has since evolved into a commercial madhouse that resembles Christmas. Signs in storefronts, sales offered by credit card providers and a general rush for toys and presents in the media all contribute to yet another event where little ones get to ask for and expect yet more stuff. Not really my idea of a good time. So I was thrilled when back in July I saw this post on a friend´s wall on Facebook.
A chance to celebrate Children´s Day with the special needs students at the Escuela Especial No. 11. It was just what the Dr ordered. Fundación Cercanos is a great small scale NGO that finds “sponsors” for each child at the school, who in turn prepare a gift box to help that child celebrate Children´s Day. Easy to follow instructions were provided on what to include in each box and a list was circulated with the names and ages of each child. As a family we chose to prepare gifts for five students, one of each member of our family. Together we decorated our boxes, bought sweets, school supplies and toys to fill them.
I was most pleased with the fact that my children behaved exactly as they would anywhere else. No staring, no pointing, no pulling on pants´ legs to be carried, no awkward questions, they were their usual sweet selves.
Muri and her dad enjoyed the clown routine and stuck together with lil Chip for most of the day
while Nick and I walked around, sharing smiles and observing, which is what he does best.
and Chip made some new friends playing on the merry-go-round.
I got the warm fuzzy feeling you get when you know you did a good thing and for the right reason. And just like all pleasant feelings it was too short and it left me thinking just how many people there are in our country that struggle on a daily basis to provide for themselves and their families.
So we are going to keep looking for ways to make someone else´s road just a little smoother. And while this was a perfect occasion for such a reminder, I am going to try harder to incorporate these activities into our regular routine, so that we don´t just wait till Children´s Day rolls around once a year to teach our children that we are fortunate, that serving others is a way of life and part of who we are as a family.
It´s not going to be easy, but if last Saturday was any indication, when it´s done right it can be natural, fun and rewarding for everyone!