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Teaching Kids to Give, Share & Be Selfless

by Mamapumpkin‏
Posted on 28 November 2012

I have been a mother for 8 years now and despite being on the computer and phone a great deal, especially now that I’m a full time working mom (I was a Stay At Home Mom for 7 years and got the 7 year itch!), I am still a very hands on mom as I am blessed with a boss who allows me to work from home. Yet, even with giving good quality time to my kids, I still feel that my 8 year old isn’t quite where I want her to be. My standards stem from society today in KL. People in general are increasingly adopting a selfish me-me-me, what’s in it for me, kind of attitude. Nobody cares much for much anymore and our society is flailing with good values. Heck, sometimes I wonder if we have any values at all!

I see it every day. People use roads as rubbish bins, they don’t say thank you when you give way on the road and many, many other reasons, people impatiently cut queues, they don’t help strangers in an emergency, they never volunteer if there is no gain for them, people try to cheat and con innocent people, they use dirty tactics to get ahead, what is our society coming to???? Whatever happened to neighbourly love and just being a good, helpful, useful member of society who participates and contributes towards the betterment of mankind??? And what about smiling? How many smiles do you see every day when you’re out and about? Go on then. Go count the number of smiles you see today.

I find that many kids in KL, especially those with maids and being an only child (sometimes), do not know how to give, share or be selfless. Of course, these are values that are nurtured and take time but every time I spot a kid (5-15 years old) who expresses any of these positive qualities, I am in awe. Rare and far between I can tell you! With the notion that if we started injecting good values at a very young age, we might have some hope for a better Malaysia.

My daughter, T1, is a privileged child. She was an only child for 5 years, being the first grandchild of both sides, she was spoilt rotten. There came a point where everything revolved around her and after her sister came along, she really felt the shift in attention and clearly expressed her disapproval. Something had to be done.

I started by praising good qualities; whenever they said thank you or greeted people without being prompted, whenever they did their chores without me having to remind them, whenever they took their dishes into the kitchen, but most importantly whenever they volunteered to help another person, which was rare! Why should they help carry the bags when Mommy pays the maid to do it? Unacceptable. This was one trait I needed my kids to have, the spirit of helping and giving and sharing!

I brought them to orphanages in KL regularly but it was not till I brought T1 to some orphanages in Yangon that something clicked. The poverty was something she’d never seen nor believed. When asked if she would like to do an exchange programme with an orphan from Yangon, she was horrified. The kids in Yangon sleep on bare timber floors without blankets, mattresses nor pillows. They are feasted upon by mosquitoes. 30 kids share a disgusting outdoor toilet so you learn to queue for the toilet and hold your bladder/bowels. They eat very simply - white rice, beans and eggs. Every day. When in luck, they get new food from donations. Living conditions are appalling. They go bare feet in the soil. And worst of all, they have no love. See how lucky my kids are???

We visited 3 orphanages in the outskirts of Yangon and T1 played with the kids. She exchanged addresses (although there isn’t a reliable postal service in Myanmar), she played football with aspiring monks and was taught to play a traditional top. We watched the children of Myanmar perform, we saw genuine smiles despite their poverty and most of all, we witnessed sacrificial giving. One little girl (probably 8-10 years old) gave T1 two coloured egg toys (pink and blue) that could be opened up and in it was a little dinosaur. These kids have so little yet they give willingly. Try asking my T1 to part with her favourite belongings? Case in point, I asked her previously if she could forsake her Christmas presents to the orphans instead and she sighed, “But I like my Christmas presents!” From me, an even bigger sigh!!!

The highlight of our trip was when we were leaving one of the orphanages and whilst our truck pulled out of the orphanage, that same little girl ran towards the truck and banged on it to stop, then thrusted the top they played with together into T1’s hands. As the truck moved away, she waved goodbye and I was in tears. I know for a fact that my friend who sat beside T1 was in tears too, and because I looked away to hide my tears, I’m not sure how many of the other 6 adults in the trucked were similarly moved. Sacrificial giving. it’s like me and my branded handbags. Do I need so many now? Can I bear the pain of just giving it away to someone who just needs a bag? After returning to KL, I don’t even eat so much anymore because every time I eat, I think of the children of Myanmar. Usually, I am spoilt for choice. I can eat whatever I want however much I want. My mind has shifted. I only eat what I need to sustain my body. Similarly, T1 has also had a mind shift and Praise God because he made all this possible.

I asked T1 to ask the maid yesterday to fill T2’s tumbler of water. Instead of performing my request, T1 took T2’s tumbler into the kitchen and filled it herself. I cannot tell you how big my heart swelled that moment. T1 had also written a journal of her trip to Yangon and she now intends to present it to her school at Assembly so that her privileged school friends get to share her experience in Yangon and be more aware of what’s going on in the world today rather than being cooped in their little bubble of iPads, MTV and computer games. We have also pledged to return to Yangon to visit those same 200 over kids and bring them even more blessings early next year. This trip, we brought them 8 boxes of clothes, stationery and books plus USD600 worth of food. The Organisation that hosted us also paid USD840 for one of the orphanages 6 month rental. When we go back, we would hopefully have raised USD1200 to repair the well at the 200 kid monastery so they get clean drinking water, USD2500 for renovation works to the building that could collapse as the timber flooring they now sleep on have holes and are all rickety. The roof have holes too! We hope to raise more to pay their next year of house rental and to start funding higher education for the older kids who want to study further. If you are reading this and have any ideas on how else we can help the children of Myanmar, please email me directly at Mamapumpkin at Gmail dot Com.

I’m so pleased that T1 enjoyed her trip tremendously despite the initial shock of landing in Myanmar. Her first words, “You mean we’re staying in this…..Motel??” Now, she keeps asking to go back and wants to positively contribute to making a difference to the lives of the Children of Myanmar. Last night, she massaged me and I told her I’d give her RM10 for her wonderful massage. She happily said, “I’ll give it to the children in Yangon”. She knows very well that if we hadn’t brought the kids those two 60kg bags of rice to that particular orphanage that day, the kids would not have had lunch as they had run out of rice.

We intend to continue serving the children of Myanmar and one day host some of them in our very own home. It has been a most perfect journey of learning for us, not just T1 but me as well, and we feel blessed to have had that amazing opportunity to meet the children of Myanmar. I’m not saying everyone should go to Myanmar (although you should if you want a life changing experience!) but start by pushing some selfless giving into your children, our future generation of Malaysia if you can. It really wouldn’t hurt…...

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