As a parent, I feel that one of my many responsibilities is to teach my children about compassion and giving back to others. It is no secret that American children have it really good. We live in a land of fancy stores, well manicured homes, and a great education system compared to much of the world. Most American kids don’t really understand the reality of true poverty.
So, when it comes to teaching my kids this concept, it can be hard. I, like so many parents, can easily get caught up in our daily life of material things and stuff. We are a society caught up in iPhones, video games, and celebrities. It is truly a difficult task for our young people to see beyond that.
While vacationing abroad, I always make a point to stop at a local school, village, or library. In past years, I would stock up some needed donation items to distribute to local charities. Our family would show up to distribute our donations and my kids would love the attention and praises of being told how kind they were. Honestly, this attention would overshadow the meaning of why we were there. I never had much success with impacting my kids for more than the time it took them to get their next virgin pina coloda. I really wanted to make an impact in their young minds, but have had little success in the past. On our recent summer trip to San Pedro, Belize, a different approach was attempted (this tactic was somewhat by mistake, dictated by luggage restrictions). We showed up empty handed, except with a basketball from our local University, and thought we’d send a monetary donation after returning home. The focus of this visit turned away from my kids and onto the true meaning of the less privileged kids of Belize. The visit was all about observing and really seeing the needs of the children who attend this tiny school.
The reality of the struggles this school in Belize faced was a sobering experience. The soccer field was dirt, buildings sat over a swampland, and the level of poverty shown in the homes near the school property was unlike anything we have ever seen. Yet with all the obvious obstacles this school faces, they have amazing success in educating some of the poorest children in San Pedro. After spending almost an hour touring, learning, and asking questions. my kids were impacted. They left quiet (which NEVER happens with my crazy bunch) and asked questions for hours. I knew they were impacted.
Upon returning home to the U.S., my kids genuinely wanted to give back. They decided (on their own) to donate many of their old toys and sell them at a yard sale. With the help of some donuts and juice, they were able to raise $75 to send to the school. They were on a mission and deeply touched by their experience in Belize. My youngest even asked for his birthday, instead of a remote control car, to send that money to the kids in Belize. It’s not a lot, but every little bit helps! Most importantly, they were looking beyond themselves and felt like they were giving back to the kids of Belize.
So my goal, as a parent, is much more then just this one small school in Belize. The bigger picture is what I hope for with my children. I hope to raise compassionate adults, who realize that the impact of giving can touch so many lives. I hope that as adults, they too will find the importance of giving back and teach their children to do the same. If every parent could just pass on a little bit of this way of thinking, our world would surely be a better place!
Click HERE for more information about Holy Cross Anglican School, Belize