In Liberia your relatives and friends dance and sing to celebrate your birthday, but Catherine Gmah just turned 17 and found out how it’s done in Canada.
Several people from the archdeaconry’s refugee sponsorship committee gathered at the Liberian family’s apartment on Catherine’s special day. One arrived with colourful balloons, another carried a beautifully decorated cake, and others brought cards or presents.
Catherine, who can be shy sometimes, was delighted to be the centre of attention.
Anne Hunt and Gail McGillivray from the cathedral lit 17 candles on the cake and explained that a secret wish is made while everyone sings “happy birthday to you” and the candles are blown out. Catherine giggled so much at the whole idea that it took a few breaths to extinguish all the candles. Everyone clapped, and her parents were as pleased as Catherine.
Among other gifts, she received a shawl, a calendar, a bracelet, cash and gift cards to buy clothes or snacks. She had not expected anything like this to happen so soon after Christmas when the whole family received presents from some of the parishes supporting them during their first year in Canada.
They don’t care for some of the food they have tried in Canada, but the whole family likes sweets. Catherine enjoyed the delicious cake and thanked her Canadian friends.
Her Dad, Phillip Weah, shook everyone’s hand in gratitude. He will be the next one to celebrate a birthday as his is in March. Catherine’s mother Esther and her brother Arene have birthdays in April.