Sponsoring Birthday Parties in the
“Aldea Sagrada Familia” Orphanage
In Feb 2006 we became aware of an institution in the Alto Cayma area needing help. It’s a home for abused, abandoned and orphaned children which is run by Father Frank Cortis, a Maltese priest. The home is located along the main road up to Alto Cayma, just a couple of miles from where our other programs are centered. Father Frank inherited this facility in a state of ruin 8 years ago, and it opened its doors to children one year later.
Some of the 50+ children in the home are truly orphans, but most of them were placed there by the courts to rescue them from unsafe or abusive home environments, or outright abandonment. As you can imagine, these kids have been suffered great deprivation, but Father Frank and his staff see to it that they all are given shelter, education, love, care and understanding. What the children are now coming to understand is that people outside the walls of the home care about them too.
When we saw the extent of their needs, we took a leap of faith and committed to Father Frank that we would sponsor birthday parties for every one of the children in the home, a treat which many of them had never had in their lives. Then, in characteristic fashion, we began to look around for people who could help bail us out in fulfilling our rash commitment. The first people we turned to were Victor and Charo Galdos and their two children. We asked them if they would administer the program for us as volunteers, and they enthusiastically agreed.
The first thing Victor and Charo did was research what things might cost. In the way of presents, Father Frank indicated that clothing was needed much more than toys. Another groundrule we set for ourselves going in was that the party should be for every child in the home. Reviewing Victor and Charo’s data with them, we determined that by shopping in the most economical outlets, a child could get, for example, a pair of leather dress shoes for school, a pair of sneakers for recreation, some small articles of clothing and a doll or toy, all for around $35. Combining parties for all the children whose birthdays fall in the same month, we calculated that pooling another $25 per child would buy enough cake and soft drinks for all 50+ kids plus the staff. Thus we defined $60 as the cost of a “birthday sponsorship package”.
One anecdote from one of the first parties held illustrates what a significant experience these birthday parties can be for these deprived children. One little boy received a pair of shoes as one of his presents. They were the first new shoes he had ever had, and he didn’t want to put them on. When pressed for his reasons, he said that he was afraid that if they didn’t fit properly, they would be taken away from him and he would have no new shoes. The shoes meant so much to him that he preferred to keep them and just look at them rather than risk losing them.
Please consider sponsoring a birthday party yourself, and talk to your family, friends and associates about doing so as well. A sponsorship is a one time event, with no obligation to do anything the following month or even the following year, unless you wish to do so. Anyone who wishes to participate can make out a check to Advent Peru Mission Support Fund, with “Aldea Birthday” on the memo line, and mail the check to Susan Hartsell, 2900 S. Devon Street, Charlotte, NC 28213. Donations are tax deductible.