We are so very blessed in Canada. When we get pregnant, there is nursery-planning to be done, websites to study and prenatal vitamins to consume. This magical time isn’t so exciting in other parts of the world. We are very much the exception and not the norm. In countries like Cambodia, Myanmar, Philippines and Rwanda, the outcomes of pregnancy can look very different. Every day, more than 800 women die from pregnancy or child-birth related complications in developing countries.
Today I decorated my 5th holiday tree. The neighbourhood kids and I made a gingerbread house decked out with bushels of candy, and I polished off the remainder of the online gift buying while they sipped rich hot chocolate and watched holiday films. I am one of the VERY lucky ones. As are my kids. Many, many others are not so lucky. Did you know that 1 in 7 (or 4.9 million) people in Canada live in poverty? Imagine sending a letter to Santa and being the only kid in your class whose wish goes unanswered. Imagine looking at a huge turkey dinner commercial on TV while you eat plain noodles for your entire holiday.
Most of us as parents have become pretty smart in terms of Christmas morning organization and Hanukkah gift openings. With screwdriver and batteries on hand, we watch them delightedly tear open the presents and promptly fall in love with the loudest one. After an hour, the batteries die. Wha? It’s at this point we realize that it was on ‘tester’ mode, and the company also put in crappy batteries. Duracell and mini screwdriver to the rescue!
Even after visiting many schools in Liberia for Right to Play, I wasn’t prepared for what I would see when I did a similar outing in Jamaica. Maybe because Africa is farther. Maybe I equate the Caribbean with vacations. You see photos of soft beaches, tropical drinks and killer sunsets and think everyone must live a resort lifestyle. Whatever the excuse, it’s embarrassing that I’ve been so blasé and undereducated.
Stocking stuffers are so hard. They need to be small, yet inexpensive, and getting useless stuff is a waste. This year we think we’ve nailed it with these stocking stuffers for charity that give back.
Today I have driven nearly 68 kilometres, taking children to and from playdates, practices, and tryouts. School starts soon and they’re all antsy. My youngest is going into middle school and she’s anxious about everything—the new building, having a locker, going to different rooms for each class. On top of worrying about school, she’s also my one and only picky eater, and this week our primary chef (aka. Daddy) is away for work. So the last thing I want to do tonight is cook. I’m set on the last days of our summer together being warm and fuzzy, not a battle about what she tries to feed the dog when I’m not looking.
Enter Boston Pizza. She will be happy. I will be happy. And the best part is that we’re helping other kids.
After just returning from the Philippines, and having traveled to several countries less fortunate than Canada over the past few years, I can’t stop thinking about the affect of food on the health of a community. In Liberia, for instance, citizens had access to potatoes, fish, coconuts and chicken but scarcely few fruits and vegetables. Last week in the Philippines I witnessed intense poverty, but the prevalence of fruit trees, rice fields (photo below) and meats made the communities far less taxed and happier. Even in our thriving country of Canada, we have some severe food shortages. From now on, we should think about how to ‘feed it forward’.
We all saw the news clips – from heart-stopping marine rescues near Turkey to Justin Trudeau handing out winter coats to our new friends from Syria. But sometimes, apart from handing over money to large organizations, Canadians don’t know exactly what they can do to help.
Gate 52 at YVR was decorated with care as face painters, entertainers, Disney princesses and a magician wandered through the crowd. Children beamed and a few parents let a tear trickle down their face before wiping it away and smiling broadly at their kids. This day was about joy, not illness.