An American Preschooler’s Understanding of the Congo

One of the things I really want to impress upon my girls, who are now 2 1/2 and 4 3/4, is that we have been born into great privilege as compared to others around the world – we didn’t earn, purchase, or even request our middle class spots in a country with relatively low turmoil.  One tangible way we talk about our blessings is in comparison to the lives of other children around the world.  Now don’t get me wrong – I’m not about to go into the specifics of war, trafficking or slavery with my innocent girls, but I do think they should be aware of hunger, poverty and varying levels of freedom.

Wednesday, I received a package with picture folders of 30 four and seven year olds who are growing up in the Congo – living much different lives than those my girls are living.  By now, the girls have come to understand that there are about four things I can tell them from each picture folder: the child’s gender, birthday, number of siblings and favorite game.  I’d been pulling out the folders one at a time, reading the highlights to the girls who were picking at the bowls of homemade turkey soup in front of each of them, then I’d place each folder in order by birthday.

“This little boy is named ‘Dieumerci’ – that means ‘Thank God’ in French!  He will be 7 on his birthday on January 1st,” I’d said as I held up a picture of a sad looking boy, “He lives with his mom and has no brothers or sisters and he likes to play soccer.”
IMG_4680I’ll confess that I wasn’t actually paying a lot of attention to my words.  My mind had already skipped ahead to to where to file the folder, neatly placed amongst the January birthdays.  I was already thinking about how to arrange the picture folders on the display table, asking you to care about Dieumerci, without really connecting with his pitiful little frown.  But, I’d said a prayer to not let me off the hook that easily.  I’d actually prayed the prayer of World Vision’s founder, Robert Pierce:

“Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God.”

And so in the rapid-fire conversation that transpired with my almost five year old, He brought me back to the reality of why I’d even asked for the privilege of receiving these folders.

C: Wait.  He lives with just his mommy?  What about his dad?
Me: Uh.  Well.  It doesn’t say where his daddy is, just that he only lives with his mommy.
C: So his mommy sleeps all by herself in a great big bed every night?
Me: Well, I’m not sure that people in the Congo actually have great big beds like Mommy and Daddy do.
C: So she sleeps in a small bed?
Me: Well, yes, if she has a bed it is probably small.  But she may not have a bed either.
C: So she has to sleep on the carpet.
Me: Well, people in the Congo probably don’t have carpet.
C: But then she’d have to sleep on the floor.  That would be so dirty!
Me: Yes.  It is probably very dirty in the Congo.
C: So then she has to take a shower when she wakes up every day.
Me: Actually, they probably don’t have showers in the Congo.
C: Oh.  A bath then.
Me: Well, they don’t have bathtubs either I would imagine.
C: So they can’t get clean until they go swimming in the pool?!?
Me: I’m fairly certain there aren’t pools in the Congo.  They probably take their baths in the river.  They would get into the river and splash the water onto themselves to get clean.
C: But the water in the river is dirty.
Me: Yes, but it would be better than nothing.
C: Why can’t they just use the clean water that they drink from their sink?
Me: Because there isn’t clean water for most people in the Congo and they don’t have sinks.  They have to drink the water from the river too.
C: But, Mom, then they would get sick!
Me: And that’s why we are trying to help find sponsors, Kiddo, so that World Vision can help build wells for these people so that they can drink clean water and give them medicine to help them not be sick from the dirty water.

Over the past 36 or so hours, I’ve told this story to a couple parents whose eyes held the same horror I’m sure yours hold as you read these words – are you crazy, Salina?!  Telling a four year old about extreme poverty and social injustice?!  Friends, please don’t miss the message here: I want my daughters to know that we can do something about extreme poverty and social injustice.  I don’t want to raise girls who bury their heads in the sand or turn a blind eye to the suffering of other children; I want my girls to always feel compelled to be a part of the solution.  If you’ve been looking for ways to help raise kids who give and not just share, let me tell you that sponsoring children through World Vision is making a huge impact on how my girls view their responsibility in this world.

We have shrunk Jesus to the size where he can save our soul
but now don’t believe he can change the world”
-ANONYMOUS

 Please don’t turn a blind eye to Dieumerci and the millions of other children who are in dire need of aid.  Of course you can’t change the world today, but you can change the world for at least one child and isn’t that better than nothing at all?  There are so many ways we can help without even sacrificing, but if it is a sacrifice, isn’t the life a child worth something?  A dinner out?  A bottle of wine?  The membership to the gym you haven’t been to in months?  Isn’t the life of a child worth something to you today?  Today, I implore you to consider sharing your table with a child for only $35 per month.  To view children who are truly suffering and are in desperate need your help, please click here or contact me directly.  If you’re not ready to commit to a monthly donation, please consider giving any amount to help buy farm animals for a community that is struggling to survive: click here.  You can honestly choose to be someone a child thanks God for – for saving their life, for allowing them to get an education, for giving them an opportunity to have a future.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s