A Happy (Gro Chape) Birthday
// Jeanne DeTellis Loudon
When it comes to seeing how lives are being changed, the fifth birthday is a milestone we celebrate big time!
We want to throw a party for children who reach their fifth birthdays, as they represent a major step forward in surviving and thriving in the Third World.
In Haiti, during our early days, when we would ask a child when their birthday was, most of them did not know. Even their parents did not know. Often, when registering their children for school, the mother would say, repeatedly, “Ti moun fet vendredi,” (the child was born on Friday). She remembered Friday because it was the market day. Unless she could find a registration of the birth, and bring it to us to read, we would never know the birth date of the child.
I love birthdays! As a grandmother, I’ve had a few opportunities to make a birthday cake for my grandchildren, especially while living with them for a time in Haiti. My grandson Nathan turned 25 while he was in Michigan this year, and he liked his mango cake. When I turned 75 this summer, my granddaughter Elissa made me a birthday cake. A birthday and a cake is a good day.
Thank God for the happy changes in Haiti. This year, we have 678 children turning five years old. Without a doubt, they will know about their birthdays. They know they will have a party at school. Together, with their classmates they will enjoy a big piece of birthday cake and get to put their finger in the frosting. With noise makers and party favors, party hats, decorations and blow horns, each child will celebrate how they are stepping forward in a country where too many are held back.
In Haiti, they call a child after the age of five a “Gro Chape,” which translated to English means “a big escape.” The child escaped death. The statistic when we arrived in Haiti back in 1983 was four out of five will die before the age of five. That statistic is obsolete at New Missions. Thank God for His love, His care and His provision. There is food, water, a school, a church and a nurse—all working together to make sure we continue to have more “Gro Chapes.” Thank you for loving a child so that they, too, can experience hope. ~Jeanne DeTellis Loudon