Villa Infantil Birthday Bash
By Barbara Outland Baker
We all have splendid friends here within lakeside. One of mine is the South African priest who conducts the 9:00 AM English mass at St. Andres Catholic Church. His congregation comprises the core of supporters for an orphanage beyond Jocotopec, Villa Infantil (VI). Padre Basilio works for the welfare of VI. The Father, the Board, and the volunteers bravely orchestrate meeting the monthly demands of Sisters Paty, Blanca, and Marie.
The thirty orphans now residing there are children after all. Their assigned Sister, “Ma” is in charge of her ten children, and all work together within tight discipline. Each child needs a bed. Each needs daily food, even if minimal. Each needs to grow a year older, even if clothes no longer fit. One day a month, however, the birthday children of the month inspire a fiesta for all.
A local Mexican woman, Adrian Varga, started this tradition some years ago. Recently, Judy King and Trish Conner celebrated their birthdays for the sake of the orphans. Then the VI Lunch Bunch, spearheaded by Connie Ondola, became motivated to assist in coordinating the parties. Each birthday child is honored with a festive meal, birthday cake, piñatas and gifts. The Sisters enjoy a carefree afternoon, and the children revel in childlike play.
I got to play with them firsthand on my last birthday. Three boys shared the honor that day: the baby, Bayon, Chuy, and Brandon. All the kids gobbled up multiple hot dogs and chips, all smothered in mild Valentina sauce, and salsa. When I lit the candles of their make-shift brownie cake, I not only began to hear three rounds of Feliz Cumpleanos for each boy, but a poignant fourth birthday rendition for me. Then the dessert was demolished. Afterwards, each child saddled up by my waist, shyly mouthing, “Gracias por la fiesta, Senora.”
If they only knew it was I who wished to thank them. Contentedly, I watched them stampede to the stuffed piñatas.
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