Confronting poverty

23 Mar

One of the main aims of this trip is to show our children the wider world beyond our small corner of London.   We want to show them both natural and manmade beauty, different religions and culture.  However, it is impossible to see all the good bits without coming across some of the bad bits, and it is knowing how to explain some of the uglier aspects of humanity that concerns me.

Do you teach children aged 8, 6 and 4 about the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge?  My instincts say no, but I am sure there are people who would disagree.  However, there are other issues that we will not be able to avoid, such as children begging on the street. 

Our children are very lucky, they have every opportunity to grow up happy, healthy and well educated.  But not all children are as fortunate as ours.   I want mine to understand both how lucky they are and also that there are things they can do to to help others who are not so fortunate.

We already try and involve them in our charity giving, for example at Christmas we made a donation to Send a Cow, which does exactly what it says. We let the children choose one thing each from a ‘shopping list’ which included bee hives, goats, fruit trees and chickens.

On this trip, particularly in SEA, we are bound to be confronted by poverty.  I don’t want us to just see it and walk away, I want to show the children that there are things they can do to help. One thing we might do is to raise money as before we leave to take to a charity in a country we visit.  A fantastic example of this is the Kiwi family whose children raised money to print a children’s book in Laos, a country were few books are published, let alone for children.

If this trip helps our our children grow up to be thoughtful, philanthropic indiviuals, then I will be very happy indeed.


2 Responses to “Confronting poverty”

  1. Kiwifamily 24/03/2009 at 1:24 am #

    Hi guys!
    The Khmer Rouge is a tricky one…..we took all our kids both to the Killing Fields and the Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh. We were forewarned that it was worth one of us zipping ahead in the museum to see what we wanted to direct our kids away from – and because we were there with them, we were able to give them just as much information as we wanted. At the Killing Fields our smallest ones had fun playing in the sand! All that said, we too, have struggled with what to tell them. Even our 24 year old had no idea about the atrocities of Cambodia before we went there (despite having read a couple fo books set there – The Clay Marble is a good kids’ novel which sets the scene but goes into no detail). Every family needs to make the decision for themselves, I think. I know of people who would not take their kids to the rubbish dump, and while we wondered at the time, we are now pleased we did. I suspect the way we as adults approach situations, how we treat people with dignity, will have the greatestimpact on our children.
    All the best for your planning and travels.

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 24/03/2009 at 9:37 am #

      Thanks for this, Kiwi family, it’s given me a lot to think about. I think I would probably take my kids to the rubbish dump too – there can’t be many better ways of showing them the consequences of our actions. I read your post about it and your children seem to have reacted to it in a very mature way.

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