Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Comments Regurgitated #2

Basic Human Rights
After posting about Johnny's theft of cassava last week, I received an interesting comment that I thought would bear answering here. This came from a lovely Belgian family that has visited us twice during their travels around Zambia. Their teenage son even spent 3 weeks volunteering with us in August.
Your post about [Johnny's] behavior was the subject of a very long and to us interesting discussion in our family. 
First off all, we -the parents- have read the thread with a smile on the face. Indeed I think every parent or educator has to deal with that type of questions sooner or later. We of course remember Johnny as a very clever little guy with a lot of potential. I can’t deny that there’s a lot of sympathy for him at our [house]. In the discussion we had it even was stated that the way he acted was [proof] of his intelligence. Of course: basically the behavior indeed is not acceptable and should be discouraged, as you off course did and described. 
Strangely enough, our table discussion with our kids [quickly] turned into a discussion about property, where even words as “communism” fell. 
Without the slightest intention to moralize or whatever I just want to give you the main idea, one never knows it inspires. 
Of course our kids considered the theft of the cassava as ‘not good’ but immediately they reacted with two ideas: 

First: in most (European?) family houses there is some place (a shelf, a place in the fridge, …) where kids can find and (are allowed to) grab some small snacks for ‘little hungers’ (healthy: fruit or yoghurt, less healthy: a biscuit or a small sweet). They wondered if the kids in the orphanage have such a place or have that possibility. 
As far as snacks go, the kids have two snacks a day between meals and Johnny had eaten not long before this incident. The meals schedule is: 7:15 breakfast, 9:30 fruit and juice snack, 12:00 main meal, 3:15 cookies and milk snack, 6:00 supper. Bed time is 7:30.
I was raised in a big family, and then raised a large family  myself and now have an even larger family and for us, a free-for-all style for snacking has never really worked. A child that snacks at any time while still possibly getting healthy options may not eat at the next meal properly and may then be hungry a short time later creating a vicious cycle.
The other concern is cost of food. When cooking for a large family food has to be carefully budgeted and portioned out. Hope this answers the question.--If not, let me know.

Second: (and I remember this was the topic of a discussion at your house) our kids stated that although the orphans are certainly cared for with the greatest love and attention, since they live in a community they have no private territory or belongings and thus never can get notion of it (learn about it). It was even funny to us to hear our kids plead for the idea that each child has the right of having some own personal belongings and a place to put (hide) them (our 13 years old daughter even claimed it was a “basic human right”).
This is a good point. And something we've been very concerned about. We want to make this our project for Christmas--to give every child over the age of 3 years their own box with lid that they can decorate and make their very own. We're hoping to be able to give them each their own little toys to place in here. Because this culture can have different views of property (you have no idea how much has been stolen by our staff....) we'll have to pay close attention to make sure the nannies are helping to protect this 'right' for the kids and teaching all of them good stewardship.
If you are interested in helping this coming Christmas please let me know. We would love to gather small toys (essentially stocking stuffers) that are appropriate for 3-5 year olds so we can give them their own little toy boxes. Toy cars, action figures, little dolls, small books, all those kinds of things that would give the kids something to call their own.

Often, people write and ask what they could send in a small care package so I will be adding a page to this blog with a running list of ideas of what people can send for the kids, for us, (for me--LOL) and this list will stay updated. I'll also have sending instructions on there.

November 7th is Orphan Sunday when churches around the world will highlight the needs of children everywhere. For ideas for your Sunday School group, church or community you can click here

I am so grateful for all of you who read and comment each day. It fills me with joy and I love being able to share my world with you. 

May God bless and keep you in your own personal adventures!



  1. That was very interesting - especially coming from people who visited you there and got to know Johnny. I think the private property boxes for each child are a fantastic idea and I would love to send you some things to help fill them.

  2. Very interesting story. I am with the other lady who commented. I like the idea of the private property boxes!

  3. The boxes sound like a great idea!

    Hugs & love,

  4. Great idea of the boxes & I agree a free for all with snacks doesn't seem to work well with lots of kids around or when on a tight budget (at least in my experience).

  5. Great idea and thoughts, Amy.... I'm all for it!!! Go, team!!

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