Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Doing (part of) our part

A couple years ago, after doing some research on hunger and poverty, I was convinced I was not doing enough to sensitize my own kids to what was happening to the majority of people in the world. It's too easy to forget the terrible injustices, the inequality when we don't see beyond our own city. I asked myself how I could help the boys realize the very great suffering that people experience in our own country and around the world.

That is when "Beans and Rice" night was born at our house. We did everything by candlelight that night. I brought information with me to the table so that we could talk about hunger and poverty. We learned together about hunger not being caused by there not being enough food in the world, but rather a redistribution problem. We took a quiz and discussed our results. Supper was the cheapest meal I could think of. I subtracted the cost of the supper from what an average meal costs our family, and that amount we put in a jar that we decorated together. The jar was to hold the money we would collect every time we ate beans and rice (the goal is once a week, but that doesn't always happen). I found Heifer International, which is a nonprofit charitable organization based in Little Rock, Arkansas, dedicated to relieving global hunger and poverty. It provides gifts of livestock and plants, as well as education in sustainable agriculture, to financially-disadvantaged families around the world. Together we chose to buy a goat. Over the course of that year, we did more research and found that our money would actually buy two goats through a different organization--Veuvaction, a program that helps widows and orphans in Rwanda. That is, in fact, where our first jar's worth of money went. It was an exciting day for us.

I realize this is one small thing, but as a family each time we eat that meal, we are reminded about the great hunger problem in the world, we discuss the subject, and are learning how to give.

A couple months ago we found out about Kiva, which lets you lend to a specific (you get to choose who) entrepreneur in the developing world empowering them to lift themselves out of poverty. We have been discussing getting involved in this very exciting plan, and decided that today, in honor of this "Let's talk about Poverty" day that it would be our day to pick just who we would lend to. We'll do this tonight over rice and beans!!

Please think about what you and your family can do to get involved. I know times are tough, financially, but I doubt that you've ever agonized over sending your kids to bed without a meal because you had nothing to serve. There are countless mothers around the world today that will watch their children die because they can't provide them the nourishment they need. What would THAT be like??

I would love to hear any ideas that you have about how you make this important issue real to your children. Please share in the comments section, and let's encourage one another to get involved. Maybe you think your small contribution won't change anything, but doing nothing certainly won't!!

Other ideas:
  • think about buying fair trade whenever you can
  • spend time discussing this issue with your friends
  • if you are going to buy bottled water, buy it from Starbucks where they sell Ethos. A portion of the price goes to provide children with clean water