As part of the Bahá’í Ayyam-i-Ha celebrations, the Bahá’ís of Portland held a party for children of all ages on Sunday, February 28th at the Portland Bahá’í Center. Prayers and readings from the Bahá’í Writings were shared, focusing on the importance of generosity and taking care of the poor. Music included songs from an old-time favorite of Bahá’ís – a tape made by Hand of the Cause William Sears especially for Ayyam-i-Ha.
While the planners for this party at first contemplated hiring a magician or puppeteer to entertain the children, it was decided to put the money to better use. Julie Koehler, the Education Officer of Mercy Corp’s Action Center was invited to speak to the group about her organization’s efforts. Mercy Corp is a Portland-based organization with a team of 3700 professionals helping turn crisis into opportunity for millions around the world.
Julie shared specific information and examples of how and where Mercy Corps helps those in need – including those affected by the recent earthquake in Haiti. Using the old idiom “give a man a fish and he will eat for a day; teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime,” she showcased Mercy Corps’ efforts to empower people across the globe. As an example, she wore the inexpensive protective clothing they provide along with technical support to setup beekeeping enterprises. One of the children had a chance to try this costume on for himself. In Haiti, Mercy Corps is also helping people set up fish farming operations.
Julie also highlighted their organization’s efforts to teach youth – including here in Portland – to take action and connect with others around the world. As part of the presentation, the children learned to use everyday objects, which they often throw away, to build their own toys – much like millions of children do in all parts of the world. This gave the children a chance to be creative and realize how we can enjoy these toys just as much as store-bought toys. Finally, as a token of their appreciation and in the spirit of Ayyam-i-Ha, the Portland Bahá’í Community presented Julie with a check to support Mercy Corps’ efforts.
The children finished off the festivities with a limbo dance competition and a piñata.