What does a birthday celebration mean to you? Is it something you look forward to? Has it become something like for me, is mostly an annual reminder that you are getting older …something you would perhaps rather forget?
Over these past few weeks my team (Project help India) in Northern India, through their work has had the privilege of bringing tears of joy and happiness to some special peoplw who have celebrated their birthday. The birthday stories of Tamanna (one of our teachers) and Abhishek (one of our students) give us a beautiful and powerful glimpse into the very heart of what it means to be human… you are loved, valued, appreciated and your identity – ‘who you are’ is honoured and celebrated. There is dignity in this, something that we can very much take for granted in the midst of our many western comforts.
At 'Project Help India' our cause is simple and powerful. It is love in action, and our mission is to bring love, hope, dignity and purpose to the poor.
Abhishek’s first ever birthday cake
Abhishek is a student of our city centre. He caught polio as a child and lost the use of his right hand. Abhishek’s mother and father have no work or income due to COVID. The family lives in a dirty rented single room in the slum, with no electricity. To make matters worse, due to their son’s disability the family is treated by many like Abhishek is a curse. Abhishek’s father is an alcoholic and he is violent at home. He spends any income on liquor. Domestic violence and an empty stomach are Abhishek’s constant companions. Through the ongoing lockdown, Project Help has regularly given the mother counselling, and regular food supplies so that they have something to eat.
One day at our Project Help school the children were asked to give their birthday. Abhishek was quiet, saying he did not know his birthday. When we checked with his mother, she said this was true. She also did not know the date and the family had never celebrated a day. So, on 14th January, when our Director Amit had his birthday, all attention was turned to Abhishek. He cried when we surprised him for his twelfth birthday and he cut a cake for the very first time. You can see this beautiful moment captured on video here. (skip to the two-minute mark for English).
Our teacher, Tamanna’s birthday
Tamanna is one of our dedicated teachers who works in our Slum Disability Centre. Tamanna is from a very poor Muslim family, and like Abhishek, she has never celebrated her birthday. The priority for her family has always been to pay for the children’s school fees, so there has never been any money left for gifts or a cake.
Just yesterday (30th January) we celebrated Tamanna’s 24th birthday with a special party for the whole staff team. There were lovely speeches, prayers, gifts, a delicious meal and of course, a birthday cake. As Tamanna cut a birthday cake for the very first time in her life, she burst into tears of joy and happiness. Gipsa, our Administration Officer writes:
"It always fills every staff member with pride and blessed feelings to be a part of an organisation who always thinks about their employees in the best way, bestowing the best of their love, care and affection on each one of us. Project Help is not an organisation but a real family. It always fulfils the dreams of happiness of their staff members. May God bless Project Help abundantly, and we pray for Tamanna’s better future."
We need your help to keep the cakes and tears coming
My work at Project help India really needs your help to keep some of our projects going this year. Due to the additional resources that we are directing towards our COVID response, we are very much aware that many of our ongoing projects are financially challenged. Could you consider joining our story by giving a small weekly donation? A donation $10 or $20 a week makes a significant difference to the lives of the poor…and will definitely contribute to keeping the birthday cakes and happy tears coming across the year.