Saturday, April 27, 2013

Africa and MILK

Someone posted the link to this article How to reconnect with your child after a long day's work. It gave a list of questions we could ask our children and had categorised them by age. What amused me were indignant comments about how it assumed that we were dumb and had no idea how to talk to our kids. But well, in my opinion, for those who don't know what to say, it's a start.

I try to be home when they get home from school. They are full of excitement and talk on top of their voices, nineteen to a dozen. There's no need to ask questions, it just all spills out of them and I pick what I want to follow through with.

"So and so had a birthday party in class today!"  Requires standard Mommy dismissive "uh huh' to not encourage any more birthday party/ goodie bag/ birthday present talk.

"Someone came to chapel today and talked to us about Africa and milk" Requires further investigation.

Mommy: Africa and milk?
Jordan: Yah! I show you! (and proceeds to pull out a World Vision brochure and a letter encouraging us to support local charity Mainly I Love Kids (MILK) 's effort to help disadvantaged children in Singapore.

Hence, Africa and milk.

The twins have piggy banks. When they do chores, when Jordan helps me pack my JED Packs! stuff, when they sleep through the night without migrating to our room or when they lose teeth; they get between $0.50 and $1. I asked them if they wanted to take some of their money from their tins and give it to any of the projects.

The twins, bless their hearts, ran to their piggy banks and heaved them off the shelf and gave them to me. Since it was their money, I asked which project they wanted to sponsor. We looked at the various project descriptions, talked them through the idea of vaccinations, the importance of sheep to families and why some children roamed on the streets and looked up the various countries on the map and the Atlas.

So while I didn't use any of the questions in the aforementioned article, we spent a good hour talking about Africa and MILK. 

The disturbing thing was that we are starting to see a little bit of the privileged, well-fed somewhat entitled and obnoxious attitude in JED. Evan, seeing a picture of a disheveled girl eating the last of her porridge exclaimed how dirty she was and what was the gross stuff she was eating; to which I answered porridge and that was probably the only meal she had that day. Jordan wanted the lamb instead of buying the lamb for the family in Ethiopia because the lamb was cute. They initially only wanted to help the projects that had clean, smiley people on it. While I can't blame them, it bugs me that they might grow up thinking that their condescending attitudes were sympathetic and charitable behaviour.

Eventually, after a lot of explaining and discussion, we decided to sponsor the project in Cambodia that provides a year of food and drinking water for the World Vision's Street Children Transformation Centre and the vaccination programme in Laos where we sponsor the vaccination and immunization of 10 children. Jordan was concerned that the children would cry because she hated injections and imagined that the Laotian children would as well. Evan asked if the money we contributed to the food programme could buy more than just porridge (the boy abhors porridge and eventually felt bad that his money would only buy them porridge).

What we feel strongly about is to teach them not to judge others by what they have at home, to help others without the efforts being a token effort or a condescending one or worse still, to commit to projects that do more harm than good. I am thankful that at school, there is already effort to make them aware of the plights of those that are not as privileged. 

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