A lockdown group delivering birthdays celebrations to underprivileged children in UAE are expanding to help spread cheer and reach more families in need.
Birthday Bliss, an initiative started by Dubai expat Iris Maria, funded the celebrations of eight children under the Hope Charity Foundation in Philippines during one event that saw all their classmates attend earlier this week.
Sayril Cahilig Seniel, chairman of the foundation, wrote in a thank you Facebook message: “Thank you so much Mika Coquia (Iris Maria), Birthday Bliss sponsors and volunteers for helping us celebrate life, spread happiness in hard times and remind tribal families experiencing extreme poverty that they are worthy of love.”
They also shipped a container of essential and party items to three orphanages in Senegal due to arrive at the end of this month.
Fondly dubbed Mama Mika or the Fairy Godmother of the birthday fairies, Mrs Maria had initially set out to sponsor three local childrens’ birthdays in June 2020, as the family tradition of celebrating her daughter’s birthday by helping underprivileged children in the Philippines couldn’t happen due to school lockdowns.
Mrs Maria said: “I believe in the transformative power of birthdays for these children – it doesn’t only uplift them or make them feel like they are recognised but they feel valued. I just wanted to make them feel that there is a community that feels them and is with them, despite all their struggles.”
Her Facebook posts snowballed as many wanted to help and they ended up sponsoring birthdays of 32 children that very month.
Karen Acasaran Morales, a volunteer who later became a core team member, said: “I believed in Mika’s vision. Her genuine kindness to help, her passion, her energy, her dedication is unwavering.
“We just always remember that we are doing all these just to see the kids smile on the birthday.”
Since then, Birthday Bliss has grown into a Facebook group with almost 2,000 members, and has gifted 243 children their special ‘birthday in a box’, containing cakes, presents and decorations from generous sponsors.
The team of volunteers accept applications from impoverished families and coordinate the collection of donations. After sanitising and segregating the gifts, the birthday fairies match each child with a baker and deliver the boxes with a knock and birthday song.
Mrs Maria added: “This is not really a big thing, but we hope to reach children who are really in need.”
For more information, visit: https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=birthday%20bliss