Saturday, January 31, 2009

Children Making a Difference

A friend invited us to take part in a project where we collect spare change to contribute to a literacy program for women in India. This was done through Sonlight curriculum for Mission India ( and I have been told that there are several other families who chose to participate in this program in our town. I was excited, but my friend’s daughter is 14, mine are 7, 4 and 1 (with the older 2 participating). I was a bit skeptical as to how much impact this would have on my very young children. I checked out the website and read some stories about Indian women and how illiteracy affects their daily lives. I was astonished. When one cannot read or write, you get robbed blind at the market. You cannot even figure out which bus to take to go places and end up getting lost. People take advantage of you everywhere you go. You are destined to be poor for the rest of your lives. Lack of dignity. Abuse. Shame. I read the stories to the girls. My friend invited us to share an Indian meal together to kick it off. Curry, Samosas and fragrant rice. So much fun and eye-opening at the same time.

My girls get allowance on Saturdays. My husband usually leaves some coins on their breakfast table. They take out a portion for tithe and put the rest in their piggy banks. They usually spend their money on little machines that spit out over-priced plastic rings or bubble gums. Makes them happy. They like their money.

One Saturday after our Indian meal, girls were quite excited to see their allowance. But only seconds later, both of them put the whole amount in the bag for India. They would proudly declare to anyone they meet, ”We are helping the India women!” . As if that wasn’t enough, they went to get their little piggy banks, shook all the money out to add to the “India bag”. Only things left in their piggy banks were some game tokens and Japanese coins.

$273.33. The grand total of our group’s efforts over the last 8 weeks in helping the “India women”, and Sonlight will match our contribution. We rolled pennies and dimes. We took the bottles to the bottle depot. They searched high and low, looking for any possible places for spare change. A box of pennies which sat in my basement for the last 18 months, untouched. Insignificant and forgotten, but now, how many Indian women will gain hope, dignity and pride because of it. It will change their lives.

I am proud of my girls. I am thankful for the opportunity for them to see beyond themselves. They see that to give is worth so much more than to keep and turn it into some trinkets. The trinkets will end up at a thrift store or lose their charm in 6 months, but when we give, it can change lives and our joy complete. I see my girls looking through a Christmas catalogue to buy a goat for a family in Mongolia instead of flipping through Sears Wish Book. What a wonderful way to change our perspective as we approach Christmas season. I am blessed beyond words can say.

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