How to talk to your kids about Syria, by Sarah Williams, Child Psychologist

Sarah Williams is a child psychologist at Refugees As Survivors (RASNZ). She is currently working with the Syrian children and families arriving in New Zealand who seek the support of RASNZ during their 6-week orientation at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre.

World Vision spoke to Sarah about how to speak to Kiwi children about the crisis in Syria and about refugees, and about the new Kiwis arriving here from the Middle East. 

1. Speak honestly, but use language they understand

Firstly, ask your child what they know about the situation. Listen to how they are making sense of what they know or what they have seen in the media.

Any discussion with children needs to be adjusted for age and level of understanding but it also needs to be honest. Children trust their parents to help them understand what happens in the world around them.

With younger children use situations they might understand – leaving one’s home, leaving possessions behind, fleeing without saying goodbye, feeling scared, trying to find a safe place. Talk to them about people in Syria needing to quickly leave their home and travel to another country to be safe due to the war.

With older children we can talk about what it means to be a refugee, the complexity of the Syrian situation, persecution, and the difficult journey to seek refuge in another country.

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)

https://www.worldvision.org.nz/news-blog/blogs-2017/may/how-to-talk-to-your-kids-about-syria

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Being Left Out Hurts: Moms, Stop ‘Social Engineering’, by Lisa Barr

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I heard a disturbing story recently from a friend, and I can’t seem to get it out of my head. It went something like this … the camp buses were leaving for an overnight camp in the Midwest, and one Mom somehow had access to get on one of the buses before departure. She literally managed to rope off (save) an entire section for eight 11-year-old girls. She stayed on the bus while the “Chosen 8” boarded and sat in their “designated” seats. Another girl, a new camper, got on the bus, who was the same age, and asked if she could join “those” girls. The Mom responded: “I’m sorry, but it’s reserved” and then she got off.

The clique had been formed and there was no room for “intruders.” (I’ll get to that Mom a little later…)

The new girl, let’s call her Sarah, had been given three simultaneous messages: 1. You are not invited. 2. You are not good enough. 3. This is “The Group” — and you are not part of it, so don’t even try.

One of the main reasons I started my blog GIRLilla Warfare ( www.girlillawarfare.com) was because of the overabundance of Middle School war stories that I had been hearing from so many moms. Same story, different players. And I hate to say this, but the root of this particular social evil, is usually (sadly) initiated by a group of Moms. One of our GW writers pointed out in another blog, that those Moms decide who is IN and who is OUT. It is political, and it is what we at GIRLilla Warfare call “Suburban Social Engineering” which ends up causing many children deep, unnecessary pain.

Don’t get me wrong. Many kids choose to be with whom they feel most comfortable, and that’s totally acceptable. It’s the piece in which the Moms not only helicopter but also patrol kids’ potential friendships that I’m focusing on here.

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)

What’s Killing 4,100 Children Each Day? And what’s being done about it? By Ginger Kadlec with guests Abbey Kochert and Shelbie Moser

 

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By Ginger Kadlec with guests Abbey Kochert and Shelbie Moser — get free updates of new posts here.

As I write this morning, I’ve washed my face and have already consumed two glasses of water, an oatmeal smoothie containing both water and ice, and I’m well in to cup ‘o coffee number two. I’ve ingested all of this without worry that a microscopic Guinea worm or a small leech might now be nesting in my intestines or building a new home in one of my arms or legs. I truly am one of the lucky ones. Millions upon millions of people… and yes, children… on earth, though, fight this battle daily because they don’t have access to one of our basic human needs: clean water.

Thirst Project Shelbs and AbbsThe daughter of a dear friend of mine, Abbey Kochert, and her colleague Shelbie Moser are on a cross-country trek and stopped by our home last week. They have signed-on for an incredibly important task… they are Road Warriors for theThirst Project.

Thirst Project is an international organization whose mission is to “build a socially-conscious generation of young people who END the global water crisis.” Thirst Project captured my attention because of the organization’s genuine interest in saving children and notes, “Small children typically do not have strong enough immune systems to fight diseases like cholera, dysentery, or schistosomiasis.”

Thirst Project Child Deaths

Source: Thirst Project

Abbey shared a fact that literally stopped me in my tracks: “Waterborne diseases kill more children than anything else in the world – 4,100 children will die today due to diarrhea and dysentery alone.”

As guests in a special BeAKidsHero podcastShelbie shared, “That’s like a jumbo jet crashing every hour-and-a-half each day! Yet it doesn’t even get two minutes of CNN’s nightly air time.”

She’s right. Which is exactly why Thirst Project, the largest youth organization working to end the global water crisis, is working diligently to save children born in areas where they simply don’t have access to clean drinking water.

Abbey shares, “Children between the ages of eight and 13 are tasked with walking, on average, three to four miles, every day just to collect contaminated water. Imagine a muddy rain puddle. Now, let’s add some parasites, leeches, mosquito larvae, and animal feces. This only scratches the surface. Children in developing communities fetch this water using jerrycans; a five gallon gas can, which weighs 44 pounds when full; however, children normally carry two at a time. Work, like most, takes these children six to eight hours everyday. Therefore, children are not able to go to school and get an education because work takes precedence.”

Thirst Project Boy with Guinnea worm removed

Source: Thirst Project

I listened to their presentation as they spoke to Mrs. Broge’s Choralaires class at Zionsville Community High School, but literally choked back tears as Abbey shared the story of this little four-year old boy whose photo was snapped by a Thirst Project team visiting the South African country of Swaziland following the gruesome removal of a 3-foot Guinea worm in his body. These horrid parasites are microscopic when first ingested via contaminated drinking water, but then nest in a limb (arm or leg) until they mature. People infected with these monster worms don’t have access to medical care, so the worms are removed by either slicing them off, a bit at a time, or through an incision whereby the worm is stabbed with a hot poker, wrapped around that poker and tugged out of it’s hosts’ body… in this case, the body of the sweet four-year old boy who I can only imagine couldn’t grasp the horror he saw as a long monster, nearly as tall as he is, was stripped from one of his limbs.

Source: Thirst Project

Source: Thirst Project

Thirst Project notes that, “Waterborne diseases kill more children every single year than AIDS, Malaria, and all world violence combined.” They also share a graphic that illustrates the physical impact on both children and adults of drinking contaminated water.

BTW, did you know that the average American uses 150 gallons of fresh water per day? People in countries like Swaziland have access to only 5 gallons of water a day… if they have fresh water access at all.

The Good News

Thirst Project Logo v2…is that Thirst Project is making a measurable difference in the lives of children and families around the world! Just seven years ago, nearly 1.1 billion people around the world had NO access to clean drinking water. Thanks to efforts from organizations like Thirst Project, that number has dropped to 66.3 million. While much has been done, much more is left to do.

(To read more of this article, follow the link below…)

http://www.beakidshero.com/posts/killing-4100-children-each-day/

St. Brigid’s School Children Support Families Devastated in Fiji Cyclone By Kirsteen Mclay-Knopp

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Cyclone Winston tore through Fiji on 20th Feb. 2016, changing the lives of children and families there forever.

Fiji is in a state of natural disaster and its people are in urgent need after Cyclone Winston ripped through the Island nation and left a trail of destruction and heartbreak with 44 dead, more than 35,000 homeless and everyone – babies, families and the elderly – with nothing.   Devastating images show the impact of Fiji’s biggest ever storm, with debris scattered everywhere and nothing but single walls standing for some homes.   Mothers cradle children in the wreckage of their homes, children huddle together as they seek refuge at evacuation centres and fragile, elderly citizens are forced to fend themselves, left with nothing but the shirt on their backs…   Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama is warning his devastated nation it faces a long and difficult recovery.  (Source:  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3463347/Death-toll-Fiji-rises-44-10-month-old-baby-presumed-dead-catastrophic-Cyclone-Winston-tore-country-wiping-village.html)

A woman and her son in their damaged house in Viti Levu. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A woman and her son in their damaged house in Viti Levu, Fiji. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

The children of St. Brigid’s School (in Dunedin) decided to have a mufti day to support their peers in Fiji.  The school children each brought along some gold coins, which were laid out on the ground to spell the word “Fiji”.

SB Fiji 4A

St. Brigid’s School children spell out the word “Fiji” in coins on the floor of their school hall.

“The kids in Fiji have had their homes, schools and churches all smashed up,” Ben, aged 8, told us.  “We thought how bad we’d feel if that happened to us.  Some of them have even had people in their families die.  It’s good if we can do something to help.”

All together St. Brigid’s mufti day raised $243 for the Catholic Charity organisation Caritas, who have organised an appeal to support those affected by Cyclone Winston in Fiji.

For more information about St. Brigid’s School, see their website:  http://www.stbrigidsdn.school.nz/

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St. Brigid’s School children, collecting the money they raised to help those affected by Cyclone Winston in Fiji.

Related Links:

http://caritas.org.nz/where-we-work/emergencies/cyclone-winston-response

 

Helping Siblings to get along…. using photos and/ or videos! By Jim and Lynne Jackson

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Ever feel like the moments where your kids actually like each other are few and far between? Or like deep down they love each other, but they forget as their connection gets lost in the shuffle of sibling conflict and craziness?

Lynne was worried about that very thing when parenting her three intense kiddos who fought all the time — so she decided to change the narrative and help her kids remember that they like each other, all with the use of photos! Watch the video to hear why and how she did it:

Quick Notes:

  •  Capture (via photos or video) moments when kids are loving, enjoying and caring for each other.

(To read more, follow the link below…)

http://connectedfamilies.org/2015/12/18/how-to-help-kids-like-each-other-with-photos/?utm_source=Parenting+Tips&utm_campaign=17c8caf731-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_Daily&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_9761ad5dc1-17c8caf731-59227453

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An invitation to express our concern… 305, 000 kiwi kids now live in poverty, by Kirsteen McLay-Knopp

Poverty1

Has anyone seen these postcards around recently?   They are available in various places including churches, schools, libraries and charity-supporting organisations.  Basically the idea is that you write how you feel about recent statistics from the “NZ Child Poverty Monitor” on child poverty here in Aotearoa, New Zealand.  The postcards can then be sent (Freepost) to the poverty monitor, to gauge how we kiwis feel about the situation 29% of our tamariki are currently living in.  You can also download a PDF of them (and then write your comment) by going to :

http://www.childpoverty.co.nz/

The stats are sobering.  As mentioned above, 29% of New Zealand children currently live in situations which are officially classified as “poverty”… that’s 305,000 kiwi kids and just under one third of all kiwi kids.  Back in 1984 only 15% of tamariki were classified as being in this situation… just under half of the current number.  Some more statistics are below…

Poverty Collage

By expressing our opinions via these postcards, we can help give a voice to our most vulnerable children here in Aotearoa.  All too often we express our outrage upon hearing statistics such as these, even voicing them to others, before going back to our own lives and forgetting them. Flooding the “Child Poverty Monitor” with these postcards shows that we, the people of New Zealand, are concerned about this very important issue and it will also help keep Child Poverty in the spotlight.

I don’t believe in hiding the reality of Child Poverty in New Zealand (or anywhere else for that matter) from our children.  It doesn’t need to be pushed into their faces daily, but it is something which is having a major impact on their generation and will shape the society in which they will be adults– and not in a positive way.  From time to time my husband or I talk to  our four kids about  this and other issues shaping their world.  With regards to the postcards,  I felt it was actually quite important that our children do their own and express their views about this issue.   I would really encourage other parents to get their kids to do this– even pre-schoolers can understand the concept of poverty, if it is explained to them in an age appropriate way, and parents can write their children’s responses onto the post cards themselves if their children are too young to express themselves clearly in writing.  Pictures can “paint a thousand words” as they say too, the response could be a drawing.

Personally, I found it an interesting exercise, getting our kids to stop, think and then respond to this issue.  Of course, there is also the benefit of encouraging empathy and altruism in our children.  Anyway, I will paste our four  kids’ responses below:

Pov 2

Son age 10

Son age 8

Son age 8

Son age 6

Son age 6

Pov 1

Daughter age 5

My response…

Pov 5

Just to clarify, where I have written “regardless of the parents’ actions”, I am meaning that children in poverty should not be judged by why their parents are living in poverty. From time to time when I speak with people about child poverty here in Aotearoa, I hear responses such as, “well, what can you expect, the parents are on drugs/ on booze/ are ‘no hopers’/ caused their own poverty/ are lazy…”.  I love the line “it’s not choice”, as it epitomises what we here at “The Forever Years” use as our guiding statement… “through the eyes of a child”.  Regardless of how a child’s family has ended up in a situation of poverty (and there are so many different cases, we cannot use blanket, judgmental statements such as those above to describe them all), the results for the child are the same… a lack of basics needed for them to thrive and consequently, less opportunity.  Surely all children, here and around the world, are entitled to an equal “starting line”.  We have the resources in both our national and global communities to make this possible– if we put it as a priority and draw awareness to it, awareness by governments and by ordinary citizens.

Have your say, New Zealand about poverty here in Aotearoa and help your children to have theirs as well… it will affect them far more than us.

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Our Operation Christmas Child Packing Night, by Kirsteen McLay-Knopp

 

Facebook photo FY

Last Saturday night we joined with three other families and hosted an Operation Christmas Child Packing Evening (and potluck dinner).  I was so pleased with how the evening went that I wanted to share some thoughts on it, which may be helpful if you want to do your own “packing party”.

For those of you who haven’t heard of “Operation Christmas Child”, it is a project of the Christian charity Samaritan’s Purse.  Basically, you fill a shoe box with items for a child in a developing country, children in some of our planet’s poorest areas who have nothing.  Although a Christian charity, Operation Christmas Child distributes the shoe boxes regardless of the religion or background of the children receiving them, and after careful consultation with village leaders in the receiving communities.  The items included are usually essentials, such as toothbrushes, soap and facecloths, pens, pencils and notebooks, as well as something to wear, such as a t-shirt or cap and something to play with (a ball, a soft toy).  Over the three years since I’ve been involved with Operation Christmas Child I’ve seen a lot of wonderful, creative ideas for things to put in the shoe boxes.  Items which are not allowed include: war toys (for some of these children war and weapons are an all too real part of daily life), religious or political material, food of any kind and anything which might break, melt or leak and potentially destroy the contents of the box (things such as play dough, bubble mix, toothpaste and shampoo are, therefore, not allowed).

Among the three families, we had 14 children packing the boxes, ranging from 10 years old down to a 9 month old baby.  We had 6 adults present to oversee it all.  We had asked each family to bring an item to pack (for example, one family brought soap, one brought facecloths, we provided notebooks and pens…).  Prior to packing, we ate dinner and watched two video clips about children receiving Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes: a girl in Papua New Ginea and two boys, brothers, in Vietnam.  After that we started packing.

I was so proud of all the kids and so impressed by how they all just “got on with the job”.  Here and there, there were children admiring the things we were putting in the shoe boxes and the odd cry of “can I keep this?”, but in general the spirit of giving took over.  It was interesting to observe, too, that some of our boys packed boxes for girl recipients, as well as for boys, and some of our girls packed “boy boxes”, as well as girl ones.  The kids also didn’t just stick to packing boxes for those their own age.  There are three age groups to choose from when packing an Operation Christmas Child shoe box: 2-4, 5-9 and 10-14.  My 6 year old proudly told me that he was going to pack one for an older kid “because there might not be so many boxes for older kids and they might feel sad.”

Before we knew it, we had 26 boxes filled with gifts!  That’s a classroom worth of children who wouldn’t otherwise have received one without us.

Operation Christmas Child is a great way to encourage our children to become “global citizens”, and think about important world issues which affect children, such as poverty.  It is also a great way for our kids to become involved in giving for the sake of giving, without expecting anything in return.  So find out about Operation Christmas Child in your area (you can Google Operation Christmas Child, followed by your country), have fun packing and knowing that you are sending out a box of hope and joy to a child.

Packing FY

Related Links:

https://theforeveryears.wordpress.com/2014/09/08/242/

https://theforeveryears.wordpress.com/2014/10/22/an-interview-about-operation-christmas-child/

http://www.samaritanspurse.org/what-we-do/operation-christmas-child/