Monday, May 04, 2009

the world around us

A few weeks ago, Charlie and I rented the movie Slumdog Millionaire.

For several days after we watched the movie, we discussed the intense poverty that so many people in the world experience. We discussed the unimaginable living conditions and the orphaned children that were forced to look out for themselves from a very young age.

We discussed how people in this situation are so vulnerable because they are easy targets for violence and manipulation and that cycle of violence and manipulation can so easily perpetuate in to the future without intervention.

When we went to visit with our friends the gardeners last weekend, our friend told us that perhaps part of the reason his wife tolerates their living conditions is because she is from India. She was born and raised for much of her life in a third world country. She has been surrounded by - and a part of - some of the most severe poverty conditions on earth.

She doesn't mind that her shower is moldy. She doesn't mind that there is dust on the table, or spider webs on the ceiling. She doesn't mind that her children don't pick up their toys or wear the same clothes today that they had on yesterday.

And might still be wearing, tomorrow.

Having a clean house isn't a necessity for her. It never has been. What's important is that they are alive and safe. They are fed and warm. They are healthy. They know that they will have a bed to sleep in tonight and they will have food on the table when they wake up in the morning. They know that they love each other and they are free from violence.

What else is important?

What else is really important?

Perhaps it's because the movie Slumdog Millionaire is still so fresh in my mind - or perhaps it's because of the visit with our friends this past weekend - my head has been spinning with the absolute bare minimum that it takes to get by in life.

Over the past week, I've been following several bloggers who have been recording their experiences as they travel with Compassion International to India.

The stories that they've posted on their blogs have moved me more than I expected. Each time I would click over to read what they had seen during the day, I was moved to tears. Not just tears in my eyes, but sob tears. That oh dear God, people live this way?

How?


I hear the stories. I see the pictures. I watch the movies. I cringe over the horror of desperate poverty. But soon, I forget, because it's not part of my every day reality. I don't think about it because it's not my immediate problem. I have my own life to live. I've got a career and future to contemplate.

For the past several months, I had been planning to sponsor a child in an impoverished part of the world. My plan was to actually sponsor four children, one for each of ours. My plan was that our children would write letters and send pictures and small gifts to the children that we are sponsoring. We would learn about that part of the world where our sponsored children lived, and in return, our children would develop a compassionate heart.

But I forgot.

Now, I truly believe that a good deed doesn't count if you tell the world about it. But when I recently read that 10.5 million children will die as a result of conditions induced by poverty this year, I felt like I had to do something right away. And now, I can't stop myself from telling the world about the four new children that we are honored to sponsor.

This is Eti from Bangladesh. She was born on October 13, 2004, the day before William, Carolyn and Elizabeth.

This is Elvis from Peru. He shares the same birthday as Henry, but was born three years earlier.

This is Ankit from India. One day William and Ankit will go research (chase) bears together. Ankit doesn't know this yet, but William has it all planned out.

This is Charity from Uganda. Elizabeth has already painted a picture for her that we will be mailing out soon.

All of these children were born in 2004. It is my plan that our children will grow up knowing the children that we are sponsoring. It is my goal that our children will form a lifelong relationship with the children who we have sponsored and their lives will be transformed in a positive way, because of each other.

It is my goal that we will never forget again.

If the spirit moves you to sponsor a child that desperately needs support, this is an organization that I would highly recommend.

**********

Several months ago, I found a blog written by a woman whose daughter, Tuesday, was battling neuroblastoma. Within a few days of my discovering her blog, little Tuesday died.

Tuesday was two-years-old when she passed away. She had been diagnosed with cancer only eight months prior. She left behind a heart broken mother and father, two older brothers and an identical twin sister.

I know how my heart breaks when my children have the stomach flu.

Watching your baby suffer and die from cancer?

There are no words.

This coming Tuesday - May 5 (Cinco de Mayo) - a blog party will be hosted in an effort to raise funds for Pediatric Cancer Research. The money raised from donations will be funneled directly to neuroblastoma reseach, which is purportedly, the least funded of all cancers. I've posted a button on the top left corner of my blog that will take you directly to the blog party.

If the spirit moves you, please pop over and make a donation for a critically important cause. Or, if you feel compelled to offer up some type of prize that could be entered in to the blog party, please drop Debi an e-mail. If I can convince Charlie to offer up one more prize, I might have another raffle up within the next few days with donations benefiting Pediatric Cancer Research.

Who needs a scarf?

**********

I met with my boss for lunch on Friday afternoon to conduct my annual review.

Because I was out on maternity leave during the annual reviews in 2008, the last time I met with my boss to discuss my performance and career path, I was incubating our fourth child.

Within the past two years, in addition to adding a new member to our family, the value of our home has dropped by 50%. A large percentage of the equity that we had in our house has almost completely evaporated.

Add to that, yesterday I received my retirement account statement and it appears that the steady growth I have witnessed for the past 15 years of working and saving, has taken a sharp nosedive and my 401K has been reduced to a 201K.

(I'd like take a moment to interject here how really [really, really] glad I am that I wasn't planning to retire in five years.)

When I met with my boss two years ago, my job was completely stable and using forecast software, my job would remain stable for at the next 20 years.

Since 2007, my company has made a number of decisions that may result in the phase out of my position within the next three to five years. Maybe sooner. Of course the option exists that I could accept a new position and we could move. But my new job would be in an office. And the flexibility that we have now would be gone.

So there I sat with my boss on Friday.

Slightly amazed that my current position is not indefinite, like I once thought it was. Slightly shocked that a large portion of the financial security we had two years ago has vaporized. Slightly overwhelmed of what the future holds and what our next steps will be.

But when I take a moment to reflect on what is happening in the world around me, everything falls in to perspective.

We are alive and safe. We are fed and warm. We are healthy. We know that we will have a bed to sleep in tonight and we will have food on the table when we wake up in the morning. We are part of a loving family and we are free from violence. We don't have a working ice maker at the moment. But what else is important?

What else is really important?

Oy vey. As soon as I typed that last sentence, the virus has hit me. So I think I'll conclude that having my mother live next door is suddenly very important.

(And I just noticed it is now Monday. Once again, I was right.)

13 comments:

  1. That's great!! I'm glad you decided to sponsor these kids both for their sakes, and for your own kids. My family sponsors four kids too, through World Vision. The oldest one we sponsored eight years ago and she recently turned eighteen and 'graduated' from the program, which was terrifically special. The youngest one we have is five, from Tanzania.

    Does your sponsor program allow you to share the pictures of your kids on the internet? I'm only curious because World Vision asks sponsors not to post the pictures of kids for their privacy and safety as part of their child protection policy. But I know different agencies have different policies so it's probably fine.

    You did a great thing, congratulations!! :)

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  2. Wow. I hope you feel better soon!

    My parents sponsored a little guy from Guatemala when I was growing up. I sent him letters and he practiced his English in letters back. Now he is in his mid 20's, and I'm, well, a bit older. He just added me as a Facebook friend, and we talk quite a bit. I hope your kids have positive experiences as well.

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  3. I find myself feeling the same way about how fortunate we are when so many in the rest of the world are not. We need to remember to thank God for all we have instead of just asking for what we want. Beautiful idea to sponsor the children - when mine are a bit older I think we'll do it too. On another note - did you ever consider that the virus might have come from the gardner's house? If they are used to living in those conditions, they might be immune to the germs in their house, but since your family lives in a more sanitary environment, and since viruses tend to incubate for about a week, this may have been the cause of your woes. Just a plug for keeping things clean to keep a family healthy - and I know you share the sentiment too :)

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  4. When i was in high school, I promised myself that when I had a career, i would sponsor a child. Last year I finally had a career and at the end of the year, remembered my promise. But how do you choose? Like you, I did the birthday thing. I looked up my birthday and found 1 girl and 1 boy on that date. It seemed perfect. I told the kids that, too - that we share a birthday. We're connected in a small way, and they appreciate that.

    Thank you for building a legacy for your children. A legacy of generosity and caring for others and living healthily and working hard. They will be truly blessed.

    (I also recently started following the Living Proof Ministries blog...Beth and her daughters and the others at the ministry are doing great things!)

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  5. OH NO!!!!!!!!!! Feel better.

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  6. I hope you feel better soon. Maybe eat an apple a day ... it keeps the doctor away!! You have made a great commitment in sponsoring those children. Your children will really appreciate that one day!

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  7. That's great, four children with a future to look forward to. Well done!

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  8. Hope this finds you feeling better today---Monday.
    MOM

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  9. Oh Wow - Beautiful idea. Thanks for making us/me aware of both causes. Hope you feel better soon and everyone's on the mend soon.
    Marg.

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  10. You have such a beautiful heart and such a giving spirit.
    How wonderful to chose children that your own children will grow up with as well. Just wonderful!

    ps I hope you all feel better soon!

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  11. I get comfy in my suburban American life, and I forget the poverty out there too. Perhaps I choose to forget. I certainly choose the cushy life for my family.

    I grew up in Bangladesh. Those poor abandoned orphaned kids? My sister was one of them until my parents adopted her. Part of the reason I choose to forget is that I am haunted by the roomful of infants we didn't take home. If we'd picked up the baby in the crib next to her, where would my precious sister be today?

    It's easier to ignore the poverty and abuse that's out there and focus on our immediate families.

    My mother has worked in children's and women's rights in the developing world for two decades. I lived with her in the orphanage she ran when I was eight years old. The abandoned kids were my first real friends. And still, I forget.

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  12. Love that you are sponsoring kids from all over the world.

    One of my daughters just got back from a trip to India and Bangladesh. Another daughter is working full-time in missions in South America. And, we adopted 3 children from Africa last summer. So, I can really connect with each of the places your sponsored children are from. :)

    Blessings,

    mama of 13

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