Am writing this from a personal experience. One Sunday, me and a friend of mine had sponsored lunch for an orphanage that houses around 30 HIV+ kids. We arrived at the orphanage at around 11am. There was a birthday party going on. What I saw that day really moved me.
The birthday girl was dressed in pink princess dress with a glittering tiara on her head. She was being spoilt silly by her parents. She was looking very happy as she cut cake and handed out gifts, while her parents took her pictures.
But then there were the less privileged kids. The orphans, for whom this birthday treat was supposed to bring joy. They were sitting around as if forced by someone. Imagine, you only get a Sunday to get up late, not go to school, enjoy and play all day. But every Sunday, strangers come to your home, to enjoy their birthdays and anniversaries.
These kids were made to sing the birthday song. They sang without any emotion, as if a routine to be played out every weekend. They posed for the pictures with a manufactured smile.
Many kids in that orphanage have been abandoned by their family because of social stigma. These kids had to look at the birthday girl fully pampered by her family. The way they looked at the birthday girl, spoke everything they couldn't say. They wished they could be her. No one celebrated their birthdays after all.
They were very happy to receive gifts and chocolates though. I offered my chocolate to a little boy sitting beside me and he refused saying- fir aap kya khaoge (what will you eat?). I literally had tears in my eyes.
By celebrating our birthdays at an orphanage, we make the orphans feel like orphans. Instead of celebrating your birthday with them, why not celebrate their birthday with them?
Rujuta Pendharkar Singh