Learning about less fortunate
While clearing out and tidying up toys, I was astounded by the privilege and abundance in which I find myself.
A long time ago we were told to eat all the food on our plates because in some countries, never our own, there were children who didn't have anything to eat.
"Eat up. There are starving children in Ethiopia."
It was a silly tool. I could never swallow those hard, stinky kidneys. And my leftovers were never packaged up and sent off to Ethiopia. Perhaps that's why I don't know any parents now who use this line to get their children to finish meals. But I said something similar the other day. During my routine throwing-out session - yes, they receive enough toys for me to regularly clear out the old ones - I complained and moaned how my children don't look after their toys.
"You know," I snapped angrily at having to spend another afternoon at this chore, "there are children who don't have anything, and look at how you treat your things."
The little one asked: "What are the names of the children who don't have anything, mummy?"
I didn't know.
And so it came about that we made a trip to an orphanage on Women's Day for our 67 minutes of good work, with a boot full of old toys and outgrown clothes. Of course it's difficult not to be cynical, and not to feel like you're taking a trip to show your children the "others". But it's hard to get your children to understand that there are many people who don't have anything and to learn empathy for those around them.
We found a well-kept and polished institution that is home to 60 children. It was eerily quiet for a place with so many children.
There weren't sounds of laughter or crying. We saw children scrubbing the shiny floors, not for punishment but because that's what they do on a public holiday.
The women who look after the children - one for 12 children - were weary and bone-tired.
"My head is so sore from screaming," said one.
We met Tsidi and Dimikatso and we played with babies.
I am not sure what my children made of this outing. They haven't yet articulated their thoughts.
But my little daughter screamed that night that she hated me and would kill me. I don't know if the outing and the nightmare were related. Maybe she has resolved to take better care of her toys, and hates me for this.