We have been blessed with a happy, healthy family and it is easy to forget that so many in our world are not as fortunate. As a family, we feel it is important to give back, either financially or with the donations of time. We also want to teach this to our children at the youngest age possible so they can truly appreciate the opportunities they have and how important it is to pay it forward. We recently had an opportunity to do exactly that when I had scheduled a business trip to Sierra Leone.
One of our favourite charities is SOS Children's Villages who build families for children in need. In addition to running their own family, SOS mothers are responsible for upwards of 10 children each, 24 hours per day, with only 4 days off per month. Orphaned children live with their SOS mother and 7-9 other siblings until they are teenagers. They are then transitioned to an SOS youth hostel until they are ready for society at 21 years of age. Children share the responsibilities of cleaning, budgeting, and cooking under the guidance and supervision of their mother and with the support of others.
I was already aware that there was an SOS Children's Village in the city where I would be travelling so we decided as a family to organize the donation of valuable items to the village. With the help of family, friends and colleagues, we collected enough money and goods to fill four large duffel bags for the children of the village. Although little Miss L. is too young to fully understand what we were doing, we involved her in the process. She helped choose which articles of her clothing to be sent to little girls who needed it more than her. Little Miss L. came shopping to our local dollar store and helped pick out toys, books, games and school supplies for all the boys and girls to use.
I arranged with the local village management to deliver the goods in person, which was one of the most powerful experiences of my life. The village director was very proud to show us around the village and introduce us to some beautiful and motivating families. I was introduced to several lovely mothers who have continued to raise happy, loving children for over 20 years in the village. The staff and children were genuinely appreciative. I will draw from the experience and use what I learned at the village within our family.
Once Little Miss L. is able to better understand, we will remind her about what she did for those boys and girls and ask her to come up with her own ideas on how to help others who are not as lucky as us. This makes for a wonderful family experience. Money is not required - it is amazing how far a small amount of your time and consideration goes. You don't have to fly to Africa to find children in need, there is likely an SOS Children's village in your country, and there are certainly children in need nearby. We thank SOS Children's Village for providing us this opportunity to give back.
|Little Miss L. picking out fun stuff for the boys and girls at the village.|
|Some of the items to be donated.|
|One of the children irons the family clothing as he watches over his brothers and sisters cooking outside.|
|They proudly showed me how neatly they keep their cubicles.|
|An older sister looks over the pot of fish as the sous-chefs prepare the sides.|
|A loving mother, her children and the village director show me around.|
|Football is a popular passtime in Sierra Leone.|