Our church is participating in a program that supplies mosquito nets for children in Bangladesh to protect them from malaria. Last week during Sunday School, the children were introduced to the program and shown a video of children in Bangladesh. My kids came home with a jar in which to collect spare change, and they were also encouraged to do odd jobs around the house to earn money to contribute.
Yesterday C (4-1/2) found her little pink princess wallet, which is weighed down with change, and she asked me to take some of her money because the wallet was too heavy. I showed her the jar and suggested that she donate some of her extra money to help the children in Bangladesh.
At that suggestion, a nasty scowl passed over her face, and she replied, "I don’t want to give MY money to children. I want to KEEP my money." I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised, but it made me awfully sad to hear those words.
I reminded her about the video she saw on Sunday about the little children who need nets to protect them from the bugs. And her response?
"I want a net to put around MY bed."
I know she doesn’t understand. I know that those children in the video are no different to her than the children she sees acting on her favorite TV shows. I know she has no concept of not knowing how she is going to get her next meal or not having access to a doctor when she is sick. She can’t possibly understand the needs of these children a half a world away. She doesn’t even understand the needs of the kids in the trailer park down the street.
And yet, my heart broke to hear her say those words.
But what really breaks my heart is the knowledge that down deep inside, that is the sentiment of MY heart as well. After all, when I choose to invest in material possessions that I don’t need rather than put that money towards a worthy cause, isn’t that just a more sophisticated way of saying the same thing?
"I don’t want to give MY money away. I want to KEEP my money."
**UPDATE** After I wrote this post, last night at dinner, Husband put the jar out and gave the kids extra money for helping set the table. He told them that it would be wonderful if they gave the money they earned setting the table to the kids in Bangladesh.
Our son (7-1/2) started balking about putting money in the jar, and I looked at him in the eye and said, "D, I know it’s hard for you to understand, but these kids are DYING. We can save LIVES by putting a few coins in a jar."
Well, wouldn’t you know it, C got up from the table, went to her room and got her wallet, came back to the table, and one by one, put every coin she owns into that jar. And meanwhile, D went to his room, gathered a few dollars worth of quarters from his piggy bank, and started adding to the jar.
I know they still don’t really "get it" but it made my heart sing to see them emptying their wallets, feeling like they were doing something to help those children. Hopefully now we will get that jar filled.