Thursday, June 12, 2008

Blog Buzz: Explaining Extreme Poverty

How do you explain extreme poverty to your kids?

This is a tough one. Our kids have NO IDEA what it means to experience extreme poverty. I'd take it as far to say that no child here in America has experienced extreme poverty. Yes, I know there are many homeless and orphaned children here in the states but we also have water readily available, water is given out free at Starbucks if you ask, there are shelters, financial assistance, etc. Here we have many resources even the homeless have access to.

We've driven down the streets of downtown Phoenix and the kids have seen the homeless sleeping on the streets, we're going to make sandwiches for the homeless next month and use that time to talk about those who are less fortunate. That still doesn't even come close to what people in Africa and other third world countries experience. I think the best tool we've used to try and impart an idea of what extreme poverty is has been youtube videos. The videos on various websites, the child sponsorship sites, our own pictures from Ethiopia, and just talking about the amount of food or water that a child in these circumstances would get. Giving our kids a visual, talking about what KIDS their age do to survive in these countries. I don't even know if David and I really understood it as deeply as we do now having been to Ethiopia. Even in Jamaica there was extreme poverty in the outlying areas we visited. Having seen it, lived where they live, met the people, felt their need, its easier to impart that on our children.

The biggest thing for us is we don't want to just talk about it. We don't want our kids to just "know" about the need. We deeply desire for them to make a difference. For their hearts to long to help those less fortunate then them. To watch our kids beg to go to Ethiopia, our daughter wanting so badly to work in the orphanages, to love on the children, to teach them songs about Jesus, just to be there it thrills our heart. We plan to take family mission trips in the next year or two so we can minister together to others.

To be active. That's the key in teaching your children. Our kids watch our every move, they watch what we support, what we're apart of. What we talk about is important but what do we DO?

Some ideas. Check out 5 For 50 and help end extreme poverty. Or check out Compassion International and sponsor a child. This is a GREAT way to get our kids involved. They can write, build a relationship, and maybe someday even meet your sponsored child.



10 comments:

Brandi said...

Great post! I love your action part. . that's what kids need. We just started a website to help kids do that too. . if you are interested, check out www.kidslake.org for kids to make a difference and have their perspective changed and their love for the world grown. .

Thanks for participating,
Brandi

Heidi said...

Excellent ideas! I would have to say that most adults in America (including myself) have NO idea what extreme poverty would be like. Part of me wants so badly to teach my child the facts concerning poverty, the other part wants to guard him from the horrific things kids his age endure every day around the world.

megan said...

What great ideas, your children are blessed to have such great parents to guide them. I don't think I realize what extream poverty is... sure I've read about it, seen pictures of it, but I have never lived it, never seen it first hand. I really think Ethiopia will be a eye opening experiance for me.

Sara said...

Our oldest will be going to Ethiopia with us and besides the shots, this is the thing she is most anxious about. She said, "I don't want to see anything sad." We've told her she will, but you're right, how do I prepare her for it? What you said is the whole reason we are taking, actually, MAKING her go with us. If it were up to her, she wouldn't go. But, I think she needs to see what things are like in most parts of the world. Our family is statistically 99% richer than the rest of the world. Right on with action. Adults and children need to act. I pray that our children's generation will be one to act as ours certainly hasn't.

Angel said...

Love this post. This is great stuff! I feel the same way about my kids. I love all of Brandi's ideas for getting kids involved. Did you see her Lemonade for Liberia post? SO COOL! I love that. Angel

Blog Shmog said...

Thanks for the blog comment Erica. You have 4 beautiful children!
Joy

Blog Shmog said...

hey Erica, i would love to meet up in august. we are only an hour from portland (in the gorge) and so coming into town would be so easy. we can exchange info. as it gets closer.
joy

GWEN OATSVALL said...

you are like the 4th person to mention COMPASSION INTERNATIONAL in the last month ... I am definitely going to check it out ... We do try to feed the homeless or visit a shelter on a regular basis, because you are correct that visual is the best way to help them understand ... it touches the heart so fast that way and gets the mind thinking ...

great post ... thanks for sharing your heart !!!

loveisspokenhere said...

mission trips is a great idea. this is something that joe and i feel is very important. i want the girls to grow up aware of the world around them...not sheltered in our little corner of the comfy US.

~angie

elizabeth engelhardt creations said...

I am having a hard time explaining extreme poverty to my kids (4 and 2), but in some ways I wonder if my daughter is really getting it. She wants us to go adopt some 'brothers and sisters' from China and Africa, I am having a hard time explaining to her more than just orphans. I think I am almost being too protective of her and not letting her see the youtube videos...they haunt me, and I am slowly doing something about it.

Thanks for sharing your heart and your thoughts.