By the time you read this, I'll be on my way to visit dear friends in the northeast province of Umutara in Rwanda. One of the things I'm looking forward to most about this trip is the chance to be with little children in the village--these two little girls in particular who lost their parents to AIDS when they were still preschoolers.
It would be easy to focus on this as yet another really sad story, but the truth is there is still so much hope and acceptance and love around the world--even in the face of loss and profound disappointment--with these two sweet girls especially. I want my children to see the silver lining, so here's what I'll tell them about the children I meet.
Kids all over the world have the same developmental tasks as you do. Everyone laughs because I actually do use phrases like "developmental tasks" with my kids, but I think it's important for them to recognize what their brains and bodies are trying to do at each particular age and stage. To help them understand that all kids have these same interests and challenges--no matter where they live--makes the world a little bit smaller a place.
Kids all over the world know how to do amazing things. While my kids might be mortified to talk to the shopkeeper or do certain things by themselves, kids in Africa, for instance, have tons of experience in navigating public transit, managing their own time and taking care of the needs of themselves and others. Instead of painting a picture of need, I want my kids to know they have plenty to learn from kids around the world who are full of spunk and can-do energy.
Kids all over the world need each other. No matter where you live as a child in today's world, your future will be shared not only by the people on your street, but by those who live a continent away. Our environment, our economies, our education structures will continue to be more interconnected as technology brings us closer together and makes us each more beholden to the others as our choices increasingly affect one another.
What do you want your kids to know about the world? What favorite books or movies or stories help you share your particular worldview.