Penina’s story

Penina's birthday CSPenina’s ten-month-old brother, Ari, has a heart condition. Penina was  upset when her mum and dad couldn’t be with her on her 6th birthday, as they had to be in Birmingham with Ari, for an operation he needed.

Penina had also been unable to celebrate her Hebrew birthday because Ari had been in hospital with an infection.  Her mum Rivka had promised they would celebrate her English birthday instead.

But when Rivka got the date for Ari’s operation it turned out to be Penina’s birthday.

‘The operation had already been postponed twice,’ explains Rivka, from Prestwich. ‘But I felt terrible to be breaking my promise. Penina is a such an easy-going child but when she heard the date she was so upset.

‘I happened to talk to my Camp Simcha Family Liaison Officer Daniella Berkeley later that day to tell her when the operation was and mentioned in passing that Penina had been upset. It was literally a throwaway comment but Daniella immediately said Camp Simcha would do something.

‘Two hours later she called back with a list of ideas. When I told Penina that instead of mummy making her a party Camp Simcha was going to, her whole face lit up. With each option we went through Penina got more and more excited.

‘Later she said “it’s really good you are away for my birthday because I get to do something much better”.

Penina’s Camp Simcha ‘Big Sister’ Sara Kachani took her and Rivka’s two other daughters Zehava and Aviva out for dinner, with balloons, blowers, decorations, presents and a birthday cake. All the girls had their nails painted and Penina was made to feel really special.

‘When I spoke to her on the phone in the evening she said she had had an amazing day,’ said Rivka. ‘It’s made such a difference to me to know that, even though I am in Birmingham and she is in Manchester on her birthday, she still had an amazing day.

‘I had felt so horrible that I couldn’t keep my word to her but thanks to Camp Simcha she had the most wonderful time.’

Mark was more relaxed than we have ever seen him in a group situation, watching him chatting with the other kids and volunteers made us so happy!

Rosalie and Gideon - Parents of a child with cancer