My friend Tina is very involved with the children’s shelter in Jocotepec. La Ola houses and cares not only for orphans, but for abused and abandoned children as well. This nonprofit organization, started in 2010 by Bob and Becky Plinke, provides the works (food, shelter, clothing, education, and above all else, LOVE).
It was because of Tina that I was able to help with (and attend) my very first quinceanera! Quinceanera’s are a really big deal to many countries in South and Central America, as well as Mexico. They celebrate a girl’s fifteenth birthday and announce her transition from childhood to young womanhood. In short, a quinceanera is a girl’s “coming-out” party (or formal “debut”).
When I arrived at La Ola for Zaire’s quinceanera, I found a crew already busy at work. The ladies in the kitchen had been working for days to prepare enough food for all the children and the guests. The children were all dressed in their finest. There was a hair station, as well as a make-up station. There was also a coloring station. I bounced back and forth between helping the kids make thank you cards for some of the guests who had made especially generous donations and helping the decorating committee.
When I met Zaire, I was instantly impressed by what a lovely young lady she appeared to be. Although she was quiet, I could tell how excited she was on her big day. She made a point to introduce herself and thank me for helping. She was surrounded by friends who could’t have been more happy to help celebrate her special moment. Before long, they whisked Zaire away so that she could change at a nearby residence and have a very special entrance.
When she returned, her guests were all assembled and eagerly anticipating her arrival. She looked beautiful. Aside from her flowing pink dress, she wore a radiant smile. She was carrying a small doll and a gentleman took her and danced her to the center of the dance floor. Once there, she was seated and then a couple of the little girls ran forward and snatched the doll away, which represented the end of her childhood.
Over the next couple of hours, everyone enjoyed food and exchanged pleasantries. Zaire and her attendants had rehearsed a dance and they performed it for all to see. Everyone watched happily and I could see the little girls who would one day have a quinceanera of their own light up with excitement. It was a very enjoyable day for all, although none as much as Zaire. What a beautiful, sweet young woman. Look out world, here she comes!