September, Kids, and Giving Back

| September 26, 2013 | 1 Comment


Photo courtesy of Samantha Ball

Photo courtesy of Samantha Ball

The month of September has obvious connotations for people – school bags, learning, new school clothes and supplies. For me, it reminds me of September 2010, when I had a completely magical experience volunteering with several friends in Kenya. After having fundraised together for several years, we raised enough money to build a school in honour of our beloved Scott – who had tragically passed away at only 17 years old in a car accident. It was with my good friend Karla, and Scott’s parents that I found myself in Kenya building a stone school by hand. Scott had loved learning, reading and children – it was a perfect fit for honouring his memory.

I knew it would be an emotional and memorable experience for us before we left. But what I didn’t know was how the children I met there would stop me in my tracks with their happiness, generosity, and complete joie de vivre. These children had a fraction of what kids in Canada have, and not even always the bare necessities, but I can tell you that they were willing to give what little they had. They weren’t standing there holding out their hands – in fact, they never asked me for a thing. Instead, when they weren’t in school, or taking their turn working in the vegetable and flower gardens, pumping and hauling water, or cleaning the latrines, they were offering us what they could. Some of the bigger kids helped haul the stones that were shaped into rocks, others brought a smile to our face by bringing little bouquets of flowers to us, or insisting that we take the beaded bracelet from their small wrist as a gift before scampering off together to play soccer with a homemade ball. These kids didn’t have any luxuries, but they were happy.

So when I think about September, I think about the life lessons that I want to teach my daughter. She’s not quite two years old right now, but it will be essential to me that she learn how important it is to give back. To see the honour in having compassion for others, a good work ethic, and knowledge that physical things won’t bring her happiness. My ultimate dream is to bring her back to Kenya with me someday, when she’s old enough to appreciate the experience.

With all my dreams and excitement to see my child grow in whatever direction she chooses, I can’t forget that she is still just a small child. When I recently tried to donate some of her unused toys, she suddenly decided she wanted to start playing with them again and wouldn’t let them go. That’s okay, baby steps.

How do you share in community building with your kids? Any special volunteer projects undertaken together? I’d love to hear about it!

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Category: Back to School, Family, Kids

About the Author ()

Samantha lives in Stittsville with her husband, Jon, and their daughter, Mary. Samantha works full-time for the federal government and also enjoys writing part-time, including as a writer for Ottawa Parenting Times Magazine. Feel free to check out her website – and follow her on Twitter @I_Tell_Stories

Comments (1)

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  1. kathy downey says:

    Its a shame really here in Canada most of us have too much! We need to give back more often!

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