Charity begins at home
This Christmas the mini reviewers and I are making a commitment to make a difference to the life of someone we don’t know, yet. Our first world existence is filled to the brim with possibility and options (if you’ve visited Meetoo before then you will understand just how lucky we are) – and yet without making a difference: are we really fully participating in the human experience?
2014 has been an exciting year for Meetoo. My most humbling moment by far was spending a day being inducted in all things World Vision, when I was invited to become a World Vision Blog Ambassador, what an amazing honour.
On that particular day I was in a room filled with some of Australia’s highest profile bloggers (quietly pinching myself) wracking my brains as to what and how Meetoo could make a valuable contribution to the amazing work of World Vision. Meetoo is not one of those blogs filled with personal revelations and parenting insights – my greatest coping mechanism for parenting is to get out of the house and make a memory with my kids – not exactly a neat segue into how you can make a difference to child slavery (which I can tell you is horrifically heartbreaking and sadly all very true, and, oh my #tears).
BUT one day it dawned on me, there was something we could do, something that we like to do most of all: just do something.
The mini reviewers have been busting to have a little lemonade stand out the front of our house for about a year now. But I just couldn’t sanction them pimping wares to passing pedestrians to make money to then fund their already bloated Beanie Boo collection. (What is it with those acid trip eyed toys?! Tell me I am not alone here.).
And I have been wanting to sponsor a World Vision child for oh, about forever (but financially I haven’t been able to quite manage the responsibility of an ongoing $576/year sponsorship).
Suddenly in a moment of clarity I recognised an opportunity for our dreams to come together, giving the children a perfect chance to truly be active in our sponsorship experience. And given we have had about six months for this idea to crystallise; the planning and action part didn’t take too long to execute once we had a clear goal.
Before I shared my idea (about the lemonade stand) with the kids we sat down one night after dinner and looked at the World Vision website and checked out the sponsor children. This involved looking at the map of where the children came from and reading their individual descriptions (which told us their birthdate and their favourite thing: skip rope and football feature highly).
Charlie (6) asked lots of questions about they way the children looked – even though some children were the same age as his big sister, they often looked smaller or younger than he does. Many of the children looked sad and some of the girls had no hair. This gave us lots to think about and plenty to discuss when it came to different cultures and situations. Suddenly I realised how shockingly sheltered my kids really are… tucked away in our south-eastern suburb of Melbourne my two haven’t had much of a global existence – something I took for granted as a child.
This was also a moment for us to reflect on things we take completely for granted. Like taps with water, and not just any water – water we can safely drink whenever we want without fear of dying. And power so we can have lights, heating, aircon, a fridge and so on. Being able to go to school and never needing to miss a meal. I think this last point made them ponder (seriously we’d last less than a day if we had to flee our hometown on foot in the middle of the night with just the clothes on our backs – my kids can at best go about 90 minutes without uttering the phrase “I’m starving”).
Now that the lemonade stand had been given the green light enthusiasm for when and how it would eventuate grew. For hygiene purposes I decided it was better that I did most of the food prep work – but there was enthusiastic assistance with all of the elements. Immi (9) wrote all the words for our poster and drafted up a bit of design (which I then executed in Canva so we had a poster to let our neighbours know in advance). Immi also did most of the helping in the kitchen – but Charlie chipped in on the day when it came to setting up and serving the customers. And both of them would have happily crafted away the day if we had more supplies to keep making our Christmas crafts!
At the end of the stall, after we had carried every last thing back inside, we sat down and counted through our fundraising effort. I wasn’t sure if this would be the moment that Charlie would realise that the money wasn’t going to be his and I would have an emotional meltdown on my hands – but it wasn’t the case at all, he was totally thrilled that the stall had been such a success and we would be able to give so much.
Our next step, a true first world problem, will be doing the impossible task of choosing a child to sponsor (there are only about 6177 to choose from). There is a lucky dip option that the website offers, but this is a long term responsibility and I want us to feel completely invested. It feels rather patronising to “choose” but I think I have whittled it down to a couple of options. My favourite thought process at the moment is to find a 9 year old girl (the same age as Immi) who lives in Cambodia. With our family ties to Vietnam, Cambodia feels like a really wonderful opportunity for the kids to learn about a country and culture that is relevant to us (yet still largely unknown)… My dream is to take them to Vietnam and Cambodia one day – this link could be a beautiful way to introduce us three to a part of the world that holds such significance to us.
Do you already sponsor a child? What has been the best part of your sponsorship journey? Should we choose or let the system randomly select a child for us?
Here’s some photos from our lemonade stall. (I am only sharing these in the hope that they inspire others to find little ways to contribute to charity as a family. I know first hand there are many families out there who do amazing charity work day in day out and our little effort is but one small gesture – but it’s a start.)