One of the most beautiful Latin American traditions is the celebration of a young lady's fifteenth birthday. In our sister community, this celebration is centered in the church and in the home. The birthday girl selects an escort, usually her older brother, cousin or close neighbor. The female and male attendants are friends and family members.
Each family has its own way of making this celebration happen, and in a community in which resources are very limited, families are creative. Girls borrow, or rent (for a few dollars), or have their moms make their pink gowns. Sometimes one or more "madrinas" or godmothers volunteer to help provide the cake, the dresses, a ring or a necklace, decorations and party favors. Often, the girls themselves make their small recuerdos or souvenirs. Guests bring small gifts.
One thing that the girls like to do is share their quinceañera photos with their scholarship sponsors. Sometimes they save one of their recuerdos for their sponsors. And sometimes, if we happen to be in the community at the right time, they invite us to the celebration.
I was blessed to be present at Norma's recent celebration. It was a beautiful celebration. Norma was surrounded by family and friends, her front yard filled with neighbors who wished to share this special day with Norma. A beautiful celebration. Norma entered the scholarship program in 2007. She was in second grade and couldn't read. She studied in third grade in 2008, passed into 5th grade, and now, two years later, is currently studying in 7th grade -- taking the bus to school each day with her age peers.
Norma's perseverance and commitment to building her future is really something to celebrate!