At my (undisclosed) age, I don't plan birthday celebrations. However, Play for Peace always "gives back" when I least expect it. First, messages began to trickle in about 10 pm the night before from Play for Peace friends in India and the Philippines where it was already my birthday. My volunteer tech guru stayed up until 2 am just get our new website live as my first gift of the day. The next morning I woke to notes from every continent and in several languages. The world felt small and beautiful in a way only being connected to a caring, global community can do.
But the day was a busy one, so I only could respond to a few messages as we drove 3 hours to meet Jean Berube
who is a pioneer in our field and one of the most gentle and kind souls I have met. She is in Guatemala for almost two weeks working with youth leaders, teachers and children from Lavosi
, a non-profit school for the deaf in Guatemala. As Alvaro Sr., the Business Director of Lavosi wryly said; "In Guatemala no one's rights are protected - but the deaf? Even less so."
We had 4 hours to introduce Play for Peace activities and techniques to these powerful young leaders in the deaf community. They will lead a camp for deaf children next week and Jean has plans to connect these students and leaders with the hearing community, a bridge that is rarely crossed.
The day ended with a surprise cake and, just as workshop was led in 4 languages, "Happy Birthday" was sung to me in English, Spanish, American Sign Language and Guatemalan Sign Language. My 8 year old daughter closed the workshop by teaching the Play for Peace Ritual and learning herself the sign for "Play for Peace."
Best. Birthday. Ever.