WORLD VOICE: Raising Volunteers

WORLD VOICE: Raising Volunteers

Dad Walking with Kids

I have always joked that one day both my kids will whine in unison, “Enough with the developing world, can’t we just go to Disney?”  I am pretty sure that will happen.  But in the meantime, by traveling together I hope to show them that there are people in need and that we have the power to give a helping hand.

Volunteering has always been a part of my life.  From a young age, I dished out food at local soup kitchens and baked and collected for drives and sales.   I saw and smelled people living in my own community who didn’t have enough to eat or a place to take a shower.  It wasn’t always pretty but, as a kid, I felt good knowing that I could help.

My first international volunteer experience was magical: nine months on the Thai-Lao border, as a newlywed, teaching community college students.  What a life changer.  It was the first of many trips that left me feeling that I got the better end of the bargain: a rich, meaningful experience, an opportunity to learn about a new place, people, and most of all, myself.

This is one of things that I want to share with my kids about volunteering: you give but you get even more. Sure you might find yourself in uncomfortable physical circumstances, but you get to experience a new place in a unique way and make human connections that will change you forever.

Woman Carrying Baby


I am also ingraining in them the need to be respectful of those you are assisting.

In my work with, I face the need to balance my Northern Hemisphere take-over instinct with the knowledge that lasting change must be embraced by local people.  We are indeed privileged with access to education and wealth, but we don’t have all the answers.  We must keep our eyes and ears open, to really hear what people are saying and then work together to bring about positive change.

Have you volunteered with your kids?  Did you feel like your family received just as much as you gave?

This is an original post by World Moms Blog contributor, Kristyn Zalota, in Guatemala. 

Photo credits to the author.

Kristyn Zalota

Kristyn brings her years of experience as an entrepreneur and serial volunteer to She holds a MA, has run small businesses in Russia and the US, and has volunteered in Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Uganda on projects related to women’s empowerment. After having children, Kristyn became an advocate for mothers in the US, as a doula and Lamaze educator, and abroad, as the Founder of She is honored to provide nurses in Laos with the supplies, funding and training they need to lower maternal and infant mortality rates in their villages.

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INDONESIA: The Absent Grandparent

INDONESIA: The Absent Grandparent

Grandfather photoOut of the blue, my daughter recently asked “Mommy, who is your Daddy?” “My Daddy is Grandpa”, I said. “Do you remember him? We visited him in the desert.” “No, Mommy. Can we go to the desert again, so I can remember him?”

This breaks my heart.

Growing up, I always had a close relationship with my Dad. We are kindred spirits in many ways, and he has had a big influence on the shape of my life.

When I was 14, my parents separated, and my Dad moved to San Francisco. I loved visiting him there and experiencing the world beyond my suburban life – touring the city together while he listened, offered perspective and treated me like the adult I was becoming. After my friend backed out of our planned graduation trip to France – my first overseas experience – my Dad encouraged me to go by myself. Buoyed by his confidence, I took the leap…and thus began my traveling life.

Over the years he expressed only enthusiasm for my far-flung travel plans and showed up to philosophize over wine in Paris and fresh roasted coffee in Eritrea. Between adventures (and sometimes jobs), his home was a welcoming safe haven.

I always thought my Dad would make a wonderful grandfather. He is a gifted storyteller, seems to know everything about everything and even has a Santa Claus look about him – white hair, smiling eyes and a jovial laugh.

However, until now he has played a very hands-off role in my children’s lives.

In the years after the twins were born, we visited each other a handful of times. As a new mom, I had less time for keeping in touch – and my adventure tales were decidedly less riveting – but he was still just a phone call away, and I often took advantage of my rare alone time (usually while walking the dog) to give him a ring.

After moving to Asia 3 years ago, communication has dwindled. These days we might get an occasional email, but there are no skype chats, phone calls, letters, or birthday presents to unwrap. When you live far away from family, these are the things that keep us close – the quick IM exchanges, silly video chats, emailed notes and drawings, and slightly dented packages with exciting postmarks.

Luckily, my Mom and my British in-laws make a great deal of effort to keep in touch and up to date on our daily lives, which I am so grateful for. Our kids know, love and miss them and it’s a joy to watch their relationships grow and thrive despite the miles between us.

Three out of four grandparents isn’t bad, yet, I still feel disappointed by the Grandpa gap in our lives.

Everyone is missing out ,and I feel sad that my fantastic kids don’t know my equally fantastic Dad and that he doesn’t know them. Ultimately, though, their grandfather-grandchild relationship belongs to them. I can encourage this special bond, but I can’t create their connection or force them to know and love one another.

I also feel disappointed in my Dad’s hands-off role in my own life since having kids. Just because I am now a parent doesn’t mean that I don’t still need my own parent. Though I’m now living in the big wide world that he encouraged me to explore, all of the same advice applies. And sometimes I still need it.

In a few weeks we will drive our little family to the desert to visit my Dad for the first time in 2 years.

My hope is that my Dad and my children will have time to get to know each other and create some special memories during our short visit. For myself, I hope to reconnect with an open heart and commit to communicating better going forward.

Life is simply too short.

How do you maintain relationships with family when living far away? Has your relationship with your parents changed since you became a parent?

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Shaula Bellour in Jakarta, Indonesia. Her blog, Notes From a Small World, is currently on hiatus but she promises to return to blogging soon.

Photo credit to Kihoon Park. This photo has a creative commons attribution license. 

Shaula Bellour (Indonesia)

Shaula Bellour grew up in Redmond, Washington. She now lives in Jakarta, Indonesia with her British husband and 9-year old boy/girl twins. She has degrees in International Relations and Gender and Development and works as a consultant for the UN and non-governmental organizations. Shaula has lived and worked in the US, France, England, Kenya, Eritrea, Kosovo, Lebanon and Timor-Leste. She began writing for World Moms Network in 2010. She plans to eventually find her way back to the Pacific Northwest one day, but until then she’s enjoying living in the big wide world with her family.

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Saturday Sidebar: Kissing a boo-boo in your country/family.

Saturday Sidebar: Kissing a boo-boo in your country/family.

This week’s Saturday Sidebar Question comes from World Moms Blog writer MamaMzungu.  She asked our writers,

How do you “kiss a boo-boo” in your country/ family?”

Check out what some of our World Moms had to say…

Unicorn BandagesALadyInFrance of France writes:
“In France we rub the affected area and say ‘aye-aye’.”

Carol @ If By Yes of British Columbia, Canada writes:
“We kiss things better, but my husband’s grandmother from Wisconsin rubs things better instead. ‘C’mere and let me rub it’ was a constant refrain when we stayed with her.”

Eva Fannon of Washington State, USA writes:
“I give them a big bear hug and kiss, and then gently rub the affected area and say “Sana, sana, colita de rana, si no sanas hoy, sanarás mañana”. That was what my mom always did for my brothers and I. It literally translates to “Heal, heal, little tail of the frog, if you don’t heal today, you’ll heal tomorrow.””

Hamakkomommy of Japan writes:
“In Japan, they put a hand over the ouchie and say “Itai no itai no, tonde ike!” Which means something like “Pain, pain, go away.” One version of this lets you command the pain to go to other people. Dad is the usual victim.”


World Moms Blog

World Moms Blog is an award winning website which writes from over 30 countries on the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. Over 70 international contributors share their stories from around the globe, bonded by the common thread of motherhood and wanting a better world for their children. World Moms Blog was listed by Forbes Woman as one of the "Best 100 Websites for Women 2012 & 2013" and also called a "must read" by the NY Times Motherlode in 2013. Our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan, was awarded the BlogHer International Activist Award in 2013.

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ISRAEL: In Dependence We Are Born, For Our Independence We Fight

ISRAEL: In Dependence We Are Born, For Our Independence We Fight

There is nothing like spending time with the older generation to make you appreciate the complexities, the wonders and the ironies of life.

For those of us who will be lucky enough to live to a ripe old age, life will come full circle. For those of us who have not yet reached the golden years, comes, instead, the challenges the circle of life present.

There is a good reason that we refer to life as coming full circle.

We are born helpless and totally dependent. Our basic needs are met by others. That is if we manage to even communicate what it is we want by crying, screaming or laughing. That is if we are lucky enough to have parents who are capable of taking care of us. (more…)

Susie Newday (Israel)

Susie Newday is a happily-married American-born Israeli mother of five. She is an oncology nurse, blogger and avid amateur photographer. Most importantly, Susie is a happily married mother of five amazing kids from age 8-24 and soon to be a mother in law. (Which also makes her a chef, maid, tutor, chauffeur, launderer...) Susie's blog, New Day, New Lesson, is her attempt to help others and herself view the lessons life hands all of us in a positive light. She will also be the first to admit that blogging is great free therapy as well. Susie's hope for the world? Increasing kindness, tolerance and love. You can also follow her Facebook page New Day, New Lesson where she posts her unique photos with quotes as well as gift ideas.

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SWITZERLAND: Letters From Mom

So far, in this crazy adventure of life abroad there haven’t been too many times that we, as a family, have had to be apart. For the most part we are overseas, but we are overseas together as a family.

A few months ago my grandfather passed away and up came the dilemma of who should make the long trip back to the US for his memorial service.  After searching flights that were FAR too expensive and envisioning 2 jet lagged little ones attempting big family events, we decided it would be wisest for me to make the trip alone.

Super dad agreed to take sick leave and have “adventure camp” with the boys while I was away. They were set.  But what about me???I absolutely hate being away from my husband and kids.

Give me a girl’s night out or a short weekend away and I am loving the breath of fresh air, but crossing the ocean and times zones makes me a nervous wreck.

In the week leading up to the trip I could tell that our 4 yr old Jackson was becoming more anxious about my leaving, so I tried to get creative about what I would do to help him mark the time and enjoy his time anxiety free. What I came up with wasn’t anything amazing or novel, but it was something that brought (more…)


Kristen is a stay-at-home to two little boys, Jackson (4 yrs) and Owen (nearly 2 yrs). She was born in New York, but eventually made her way down to Texas. She and her husband, Seth, met in Dallas and were married in December 2005. Nine months into their marriage Seth received a call that he had landed his dream job, one catch, it involved world wide assignment. The adventure took them from Texas to Washington, D.C., on to Bogotá, Colombia and then back to Washington, D.C before bringing them to Bern, Switzerland! Kristen and her family have currently lived in Bern for more than 1 year, where her husband works for the US Department of State. Four moves and 2 children in nearly 6 years of marriage have made for quite the adventure in motherhood! Kristen finds motherhood to be one of the most humbling and character building things she has ever experienced. The responsibility of raising boys with integrity and respect at times feels daunting, but she couldn’t imagine doing anything else! Kristen is a Speech Language Pathologist but has taken time away from working to focus on her family. Although she enjoys the travel and adventure involved in her husband’s career, she often finds herself feeling far from home and working to make the most of time abroad! On her blog, Seasons Worth Savoring, Kristen writes about daily life with two little boys, including her experiences as she navigates a foreign culture and walks by faith. In her free time, or rather in her busy time with two boys attached to her legs, Kristen enjoys cooking, photography, antique and thrift store shopping, working on crafts, and blogging.

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