Party time!

Karla’s birthday was as much a blast as it was a crucial moment in the film. Lots of children showed up, from all corners of the neighborhood. Sujeylin and Felix ended up buying two piñatas, and the first activity of the day was to take turns hitting those with a stick to release the enclosed candy. Obviously not after first having made a picture of them with the birthday girl.

The photographer who showed up was actually pretty funny, an older guy, somewhat grumpy, who, with a pretty historical looking camera, took exactly one picture of each pose so as to save film. In total three pictures were taken by him.

I’m side tracking. While the kids were releasing their muscles on the piñatas, more often than not creating some near-misses in the crowded garden, food was handed out as well as little bags with candy. Over this, eighties music was blaring at full volume (Nicas love noise to a point where it becomes painful for my ears, let alone for all the children present). But the best part was the cake and the singing. Karla was handed a knife, which she was to hold halfway in the colourful birthday cake, while all the kids sang a song I had never heard of before. I thought it was going to be cumpleaños feliz, like in Spain, but that isn’t quite the universal song I thought it was.

Surely not a tradition I suppose, but right after this event Sujeylin got a real kick out of painting Karla’s face with some of the cake’s colored cream. I had not seen her laugh so loud in the entire 18 months that I have known her.

All in all, it was a fun day and a great scene to end the film on. It made me think back a lot to the birth, a year ago today, and everything that has happened in-between. Sujeylin really lived up to the expectation I had of this story, in which a young homeless mother finds the strength to get off the streets, kick the glue, and improve her quality of life simply for the sake of a child. Often these are teenagers with such low self-esteem that it’s not worth the effort to do that for themselves only, but as soon as a human being more important than their own person appears in their lives, something clicks.

Sadly enough, and as you will learn from the film, Sujeylin is an exception rather than a rule. Many girls never make it as far as she has been able to get in just a year’s time. Their children are taken from them by social services, or brought to family (as Sujeylin did with Nasly, her first child), and they themselves continue on the streets, drugging themselves to beat hunger, cold and misery, making money begging, stealing or with their bodies. The cause? Broken families, poverty at home, abuse by a stepfather or -brother, early child trauma, and in general a lack of education and overall life skills which enable them to know which direction the end of the tunnel might be.

The world over, we’re talking millions of children and teens here. The female population might deliver a child every two years or so. A child, which might be so lucky never to live with her mother. Or a child, which might be even luckier, and to have a mother like Sujeylin who makes sacrifices everyday in order to keep Karla fed and under a roof. My hat off to her.

4 thoughts on “Party time!

  1. I agree with you Koen, because I cannot even start to imagine how it must be living under those circumstances and then being able to turn your life around and keep it that way: impressive.

    But they are also lucky that there is a person like you, who has beer working on this project for years encountering many setbacks and disappointments before seeing light at the end of the tunnel. You as well did not want to give up and kept believing in it and moreover, wanted to show ‘the world’ what is happening. So besides for Sujeylin I am taking my hat off to you too.

    I trust that the documentary will be a tribute to those mothers who are like Sujeylin, be an example to those who are not there yet, and put the rest of the people to think about the ‘quality’ of the world we are living in.



  2. And my hat off to my most loyal reader!
    See you soon in Madrid and thank you again for your wise contributions. Keep them coming.


  3. Onze felecitaties met dit resultaat! We weten dat je er een mooie, indrukwekkende film van zal maken en wensen je daar alle succes bij.


  4. En ik sluit me volledig aan bij de commentaren van Frans en van je ouders!! En dat vele mensen nog geraakt gaan worden, zoals wij in de afgelopen maanden (jaren) – bedankt Koen!!!


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