Everyone loves a birthday party, right? And when the party is for you, it’s even more fun!
Most of us can’t remember our very first birthday party. But Joseph Okello can – he was 29 years old when the employees at Divine Word College surprised him this summer with the first birthday celebration he’s ever had.
“On August 12, 2009, I went to the kitchen in the morning and before I entered into the room, all the people who were in the kitchen surprised me with the song Happy Birthday to You,” says Joseph. “I was really happy. I thought for a moment and I came to realize that living in a religious community is the most precious thing.”
Joseph arrived at Divine Word College on August 24, 2008 and is a freshman seminarian student. He spent most of his youth in a Kenyan refugee camp with many other “Lost Boys” like him. In the camp, birthdays were not celebrated. “In my culture,” says Joseph, “people don’t even know what their birthdays are.”
On his big day, Joseph received birthday cards, a “very beautiful cake” and an “ice cream” credit card to use for sharing a treat with friends. Balloons, doughnuts, a king’s cap and gifts of chocolate completed the celebration. But there was one more special moment. “At lunchtime, all of the Divine Word College employees sang Happy Birthday to me,” Joseph beams. “I was crying because I was full of happiness – it was really wonderful.”