This Easter I have been doing so much thinking. I followed Eden’s journey to Niger, as she blogged about the Food Crisis for World Vision. I have been thinking about how I want to teach my children about how important it is to know there is a whole big world out there. I don’t feel I’ve been doing enough. Scarred maybe, by the school counsellor that told me I shouldn’t take my step-children with me when doing my volunteer charity work as it would be ‘psychologically damaging’ to them. I have been thinking about how I have kept quiet about something so important to me on here because it was unpopular. Eden’s journey reminded me that sometimes, we have to say something. Thankfully for her, I think all the feedback and comments received were positive and uplifting.

I don’t like the term ‘third world country’ – but it’s common and since it seems to be what people understand, I will use it here. I lived in a third world country, I was born in one, too.
I grew up with incredible poverty right before my eyes. We saw it everyday driving around in our air conditioned cars, going to our expensive private school, or to the mall filled with stores like Gucci and Louis Vuitton, or back to our large houses filled with flat screen TV’s and Playstations.
We saw it. Children with no clothes, no food, no schooling. Parents with no income, begging on the street.  I know how lucky I was that I was born into the family I have. I know that the opportunities that have been handed to me are opportunities many can’t even dream of, because they don’t even know they exist. My world, my life, my everyday is so different to the world and everyday of the majority of the people who live in the country I called home for 12 years of my life. I know this.

But it was instilled in us that not doing anything wasn’t an option. We were often knee deep in mud and filthy water. Making a difference if only to a few people. We were out visiting orphanages, feeding 1 week old babies their first bottle of the day because they were understaffed and over-orphaned. We cooked food packages for homeless street kids. We gave up our recess and lunch breaks at school to fill box after box of flood relief items when the monsoons hit. We raised money to rebuild schools. We donated our books.
I know that the hardship those around me faced {and still face} is real and that it is not rare. That everywhere, everyday, there are people that need us to acknowledge their struggle, their hardship and their heartbreak. We need to help and we can’t ignore it.

I have blogged before about this – and you know what – I got nasty emails about being preachy. I got comments like “great, now I can’t eat my dinner” and “this is supposed to be a happy blog, this is not what I come here for”. I felt defeated, deflated and upset. So, I regret it, but I deleted the posts. Why do comments like that come about after posts like this? It is my opinion that some of it is because we feel GUILTY. Guilty because we don’t want to think about their struggles in some far away country because it makes our own struggles seem … insignificant?
I have also received comments about being so inconsiderate with activities like rainbow rice. Someone emailed me to ask me “do you know how many people that could feed”. Yes I do know that that rice could help feed a family. But does that mean I need to feel guilty about dying it for my children to play with? No. I can’t mail my 2kg bag of rice from the supermarket to someone who really needs it. But I can donate to worthy causes to help people who are in need. And I do.

Guilt doesn’t help solve anything. Feeling guilty doesn’t accomplish anything. They don’t want your guilt. It doesn’t help, it doesn’t feed their babies, medicate their children or clothe their families.

Instead, be grateful for what we have, and that we have the opportunity to work hard for what we have. Be grateful that your life is what it is. Be grateful that we live in a privileged society. Be grateful that we can dye rice and pasta and make playdough with flour for our kids to play with. Don’t feel guilty because it just doesn’t do anything. {except make you feel guilty!}

What does help?
Spreading the word – like Eden has with World Vision and so many others lately have done. You don’t need to have a blog – just share it – any way you like.
Donating – to which ever cause you feel drawn to donate to.
Talking about it – especially with our children. Open up the dialogue. Teach them about what is happening in the world. Buy them a World Vision gift and explain what this means – and why it is  meaningful. My children received this World Vision gift this Easter.

Tell them about other people’s lives, struggles and hardships. Do this not to make them feel guilty for having what they have, but to empower them to make a difference.

Grateful, not guilty.

And you can make a difference. Every little bit helps. Don’t forget that.