I’m thrilled to welcome my very dear friend, Joy, from Joy in this Journey, here today.
I am the mother of two boys and two girls. All four of them are beautiful, in my humble opinion. Girls have been following my oldest son around for quite some time, partly because he’s so darn cute and partly because he’s such a nice kid. My youngest boy demands attention wherever he goes, but does it with such charm that no one minds his presumption. Our oldest daughter passed away almost four years ago, but even with cerebral palsy, her smile and contagious laugh brightened the dourest face. My youngest daughter is [thankfully] oblivious to the fact that all the boys in her class are utterly smitten with her. We are a wild exuberant bunch, with each of us playing our part to perfection, right down to the pitch of scream and intensity of whine and bubble of laughter. I love my boys and my girls (even though they wear me to a frazzle every single day).
I took our family’s personality, both as a unit and individually, for granted until last year when I visited Bolivia. Since then, I’ve wondered how different we would be if we lived in the third world. Would Scott be home much or would he leave us to find work like so many men do? Would I have spare energy to advocate for women and children, or to be creative, or would the black hole of hunger and thirst and fear consume my time, my thoughts, and my emotions? Would I drink to numb the pain of watching my children go hungry? Or would I betray my children by abandoning them, unable to take it any more? Who has the capacity for advocacy and creativity and social change when they’re so close to the edge of survival?
Then I wonder how I would respond if World Vision came to my community. Would I be as proud and stubborn as I am now? I’d like to think that I would have the vision to enroll in their entrepreneurial programs for women. I’d like to think that I’d jump at the chance to work our way into a better life by raising pigs or working in a bakery or sewing. I’d like to think that I’d be teachable, willing to learn about hygiene and family planning, better ways to grow gardens, and better ways to provide good nutrition for my kids. I’d like to think that I would sign my children up for the sponsorship program and children’s clubs.
But I don’t know if I would. I don’t like needing help. I know how much perspective I lose when I’m overwhelmed, exhausted, hungry, and harried by unhappy children. Would I be suspicious of World Vision’s motives or scared off by our region’s superstition? Would I wait and see, or would I take a risk?
Even then, would my two precious sons and my beautiful daughter be sponsored?
One of the hardest things we learned from World Vision staff is that little girls are far more likely to be chosen by prospective sponsors than boys, especially boys 8 and older. If my children needed sponsors, it’s likely that only my youngest daughter would find one, and even she might struggle because she’s older too. Boys going unsponsored is not ok.
As a feminist, my heart and passion is not only for women and girls. I believe that feminists should advocate for anyone at a disadvantage, not just women. Contrary to popular belief, most of us are rather fond of men – they are our fathers, husbands, brothers, sons, and friends. We are not after female world domination. We want to raise up women to be equal partners together with men, each using their unique strengths together for the benefit of everyone. We want everyone, both men and women, to do well. We are after equality and justice for all. When we discover that boys are suffering, we advocate for them, too. Our communities and our world needs strong healthy educated empowered men and women who respect one another and work together.
My family does not live in the third world. We have the tremendous privilege and responsibility of living in the Midwest USA, where we have more than enough hope, creativity, and resources. We should not feel guilty over this advantage. I believe that God would have us Westerners send our abundance, and send hope, to people in desperate need in the third world. My family sponsors older girls and boys, in a small effort to remedy the lack of sponsors for older kids. I’m very much looking forward to kicking soccer balls with these two handsome boys when I meet them in person later this month when I travel to Sri Lanka with World Vision.
I’ll be there from August 23 to September 1, reporting on the ways sponsors can deliver hope to the people of this primarily Buddhist country wracked by a 26-year civil war and devastated by the 2004 tsunami.
If you, like me, agonize over what to do about all the needs you see, consider this. God doesn’t want us to feel guilty. We should enjoy what we’ve been given and be grateful for it. We should also share it. We are each called to do our best with what we have. Some of us will receive and some of us will give. If you are called to give, consider child sponsorship through World Vision.
You can go here to sponsor a child and send hope to some children in desperate need of it. (If you need to learn more about child sponsorship, World Vision, or the country of Sri Lanka, follow me and the others who are traveling there with World Vision.)