In front of her peers and community, Anna’s* mother and father begin their address to her, “Dear Anna—,” immediately they pause to collect themselves, their eyes welling up with tears. “We want to congratulate you on your first achievement in school. Your education is the best gift that we as parents can give you. We want you to keep on being a hardworking student, responsible, obedient, and respectful. We want you to fly high…because you have the opportunity and support from us. Our greatest pride is seeing you get an education. We love you.”
When a community comes together to pause and celebrate their children’s accomplishments, it is a powerful experience. Tears of joy flow freely and laughter fills the air as relationships are deepened. The bonds between these children with their parents, their peers, and their community—friends and volunteers who have guided their lives for years—build up their confidence as they move forward in life.
Every year parents of the Chirilagua community pause to come together and celebrate a milestone: their rising 5th grade children’s graduation from Kids Club. This milestone is significant for various reasons. Beyond attaining a higher level of education than some of their parents had in their origin country, these students’ success builds self-confidence and represents a dream of even greater achievements to come for their entire family.
“[My son Pedro*] finished 5th grade thanks to Casa Chirilagua’s support. I’m very happy and proud of him for finishing 5th grade. My wish for him is to continue his education, to be the best student in school and the best son. My biggest hope is to see Pedro graduate from high school and college. Congratulations. I love you, and keep moving forward.”
Four years ago this community event did not yet exist. It was the parents in the community who came together to create this celebration. Instead of a party put on solely by Casa Chirilagua’s Kids Club staff, these parents envisioned a party for the students which they themselves sponsored, planned and executed. Each year the celebration grows and the parents make it happen by preparing decorations, coordinating outfits, creating games, obtaining food and writing heartfelt letters to their children, reading words of encouragement contained in those letters aloud in front their Casa Chirilagua community.
Milestones are a testament to all of the work put into them. The parents, community and volunteers who pour into students’ lives are proof of this. So let’s pause—and celebrate together, this one of many milestones that our community has created.
If you would like information on how to create future milestones in our community, visit our Connect page.
* Names changed for privacy