Global awareness has been identified, by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, as key to the success of today’s young people. I have always prided myself on my commitment to raising my three young daughters to understand the challenges that people all over the world face on a daily basis. Despite my best efforts, I felt like I was failing. Of no fault of their own, given their young ages, I felt that they were slowly being swallowed up by a world driven, at times, by materialism and egocentrism. As their mom, I knew it was my responsibility to raise them as globally aware citizens. But how?
The major stumbling block at the time was their young age. How would I ever manage to teach my daughters to be empathetic when they were all under the age of 6! After much thought, I realized that the only way to accomplish this was to truly involve them in the process right from the start. So, no fancy and sophisticated fundraisers, no black tie events, no galas…but a teddy bear picnic: absolutely!
I decided to raise money to support a local university professor who had built a school in an AIDS impacted community in Kenya. The girls and I planned a teddy bear picnic for all of our friends and family, that was held in our backyard. We planned the whole event ourselves. The girls helped me make the decorations and activity stations. They had such a sense of pride in the whole event. And to top it all off, it was a financial success…we raised a significant amount of money and managed to spread the idea of the importance of global awareness through coverage in multiple newspapers. The response from the girls’ friends and their parents was incredible. We all felt sense of global responsibility and inspiration.
Reeling from the success of the teddy bear picnic, I decided to start a small Canadian Not for Profit Organziation. I felt the only way to ensure my daughters remained truly involved in this venture was to start my own organization.
The organization (www.mom2momafrica.ca) has grown over the past few years and now supports the education of sixteen children and five young women in Tanzania. My daughters and their friends are extremely involved and take an active role in our annual summer backyard fundraisers. Their friends have sold jewelry, organized lemonade stands, emptied piggybanks, and donated birthday gifts to help raise money for the project.
The children in Canada correspond with the Tanzanian children though a penpal program that we established with the school director. By keeping the children actively involved in the organization, I hope that I have been successful in teaching my daughters the importance of being empathetic, global citizens.
It is amazing to see how passionate they have become…and in turn, how passionate I have become. We are changing the world one small step at a time, together, and it feels great!
We will be forever grateful to the women and children in the project for allowing us to be part of their inspiring stories. They have changed us for the better in so many ways!
Have you been working on ways to teach your child(ren) how to be more empathetic global citizens? How have you done this?
This is an original post for World Moms Blog by Alison Fraser from Mom2Mom Africa.
Teddy Bear Picnic photo credit to Katie McDonald. Joyce receiving first penpal letter photo credit to Rob Chekwaze.