Monday, October 25, 2010

Light bulbs for Haiti - a little lesson in empathy

"We need to buy light bulbs for Haiti," my daughter announced one afternoon as I picked her up from school.

Wow. Heavy response from a 5 year old, who usually reports in on what she played at recess. But, as she explained to me, the kids in Haiti don't have lights in their classrooms. And that day, they colored in the dark to see what it's like.

"I didn't have any problems," she reported. But something stuck with her nonetheless. For the first time, she talked about sharing her toys for the Haiti sale and giving away clothes and shoes that didn't fit her - instead of dramatically insisting how "special" each item was.

This week, priests from Haiti are visiting our church. And my daughter, just 5, is learning about life an ocean away and a little bit about generosity as well.

In recent years, my parish has made an affiliation with a church and school in Haiti. The wonderful thing about this mission is that they have made it very real for the families. We support it through an annual children's clothing sale, and fundraisers include buying a desk (about $30-40, by my recollection). It makes it real, as few people are actually able to make the mission trips.

But what's impressed me most is what they've impressed upon the children. My daughter did her school work in the dark to see what it was like without lights. They talked about how little the children had, how many needed shoes or school desks. Each day sparked a little lesson, and our conversations this week have been sprinkled with facts about the Haitian people - from the earthquake, to the fact they speak Creole, to their diet of rice and beans.

In fact my daughter, whose refusal to eat black beans led me to donate my stash to the food pantry last weekend, announced she wanted beans for dinner. When I told her I donated them to people who were hungry, she told me, "But the people in Haiti already have beans!"

Still, we've had many conversations this week about life in Haiti and about poverty - each sparked by a blossom planted by my child. I'm grateful for those. As she grows, she'll become an amazing member of this world!

No comments: