Don’t fall into Cambodia’s orphanage trap, Australians told, by Lindsay Murdoch

1451208080232-1Phnom Penh: Tara Winkler, a former NSW Young Australian of the Year, says it is “highly unethical to expose vulnerable children to serious risks in order to engage donors and raise funds”.

Ms Winkler says potential abusers are not being vetted among a high volume of visitors to Cambodia’s 600 orphanages and children’s residential care centres who are allowed to physically interact with children in intimate ways, such as playing games and hugging.

“Even though the majority of people who want to visit centres are good people who only want to help, if they are allowed in to provide love and affection, then the same access is provided to potential predators and sex tourists,” she said.


Children at a Phnom Penh orphanage. Photo: Lindsay Murdoch

Fairfax Media has reported that strangers can walk uninvited off the street into a Phnom Penh orphanage, where they are greeted in bedrooms with children trained to engage visitors and encourage them to donate money.

A record 47,900 children are living in orphanages and residential care centres in Cambodia, despite research showing that the institutions scar their emotional and personal development through seemingly endless broken relationships, and that they should be living with their families in their own communities.

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

Yay for Barbie’s New Looks! By Mary Bowerman and Hadley Malcolm


Barbie may now look a bit more like the rest of us, curves and all.

Mattel, the maker of Barbie, announced Thursday the iconic doll will now come in three new body types and a variety of skin tones and hairstyles. This is the first time the doll will be available in body types beyond its original stick-thin frame.

Mattel has been putting Barbie through a transformation for the past two years to bring the doll in line with realistic body standards and reflect the diversity of the kids playing with the dolls. Last year Mattel introduced 23 new dolls with different skin tones, hairstyles, outfits and flat feet, rather than the perpetually pointy ones meant to fit into sky-high heels.

This year’s dolls will be available in tall, petite and curvy body types. Online sales start Thursday on and dolls will start hitting stores March 1, with a total of 33 new dolls being rolled out by the end of the year.

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


Sonny Bill Williams gives Rugby World Cup medal to stunned 14-year-old fan


What a wonderful example and role model Sonny Bill Williams has been in looking out for 14 year old fan, Charlie Lines… even giving him his medal.  As we kiwis enjoy the All Blacks’ World Cup Victory, we should also feel proud of Sonny Bill, who changed what could have been a negative lifetime memory of being handled roughly by security guards into a positive, affirming moment where the 14 year old got to share in his favourite star’s victory.  Public figures and sports stars such as Sonny Bill Williams have such an important role to play in advocating for our children everywhere.  — Editor, Kirsteen McLay-Knopp.

The following article is from the UK Guardian.

A 14-year-old New Zealand fan Charlie Lines is now the proud owner of a Rugby World Cup winner’s medal – after an extraordinary act of generosity from Sonny Bill Williams.

Williams acted after seeing a security guard rugby tackle the boy, who had run on the pitch during the All Blacks’ lap of honour following their 34-17 Rugby World Cup final victory over Australia.

Williams, who was photographed intervening then handing the dumbfounded youngster his medal, told New Zealand’s One News afterwards: “I was walking around doing a lap of honour with the boys and a young fella came running out and he got smoked by the security guard, like full-on tackled him. I felt sorry for the little fella”.

(To read more, follow the link below…)

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

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Flower Sack Dresses From the Flour Mills (Historical Kindness)


What a lovely example from history not only of how things can be re-used, but also of how the manufacturers went out of their way to help so many children by creating bright and beautiful material: something they didn’t have to do.

Kindness Blog ♥️

In times gone by, amidst widespread poverty, the Flour Mills realized that some women were using sacks to make clothes for their children. In response, the Flour Mills started using flowered fabric…

With the introduction of this new cloth into the home, thrifty women everywhere began to reuse the cloth for a variety of home uses – dish towels, diapers, and more. The bags began to become very popular for clothing items.

Flower Sack Dresses From the Flour MillsAs the recycling trend looked like it was going to stay, the manufacturers began to print their cloth bags – or feedsacks – in an ever wider variety of patterns and colors.

Some of the patterns they started using are shown below

Flower Sack Dresses From the Flour Mills Flower Sack Dresses From the Flour Mills Flower Sack Dresses From the Flour Mills Over time, the popularity of the feedsack as clothing fabric increased beyond anyone’s wildest expectations, fueled by both ingenuity and scarcity.

By the time WWII dominated the lives of Americans, and cloth for fabric was in…

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Kids Aren’t Expensive, But That Other Thing Sure Is – by Anna Barton

An article after our own heart! “The Forever Years” loves this, encouraging reading and something we should all be mindful of as we raise our children. Many thanks to Anna Barton from New York, USA for her great article! 🙂

Kindness Blog ♥️

Kids Aren’t Expensive, But That Other Thing Sure Is - by Anna BartonMy husband and I have always wanted a lot of kids. (Of course, “a lot” is a relative term, depending what your social circles look like, but for the purpose of this post, we’re going to call “a lot” more than 3. Ha.)

Over the last 6 years, when we’ve made our feelings known, we’ve often been met with one particular phrase: Kids are so expensive!!

Well, on the one hand, I suppose they are. Depending on your particular situation – medical bills, dental care, school tuition, etc. all definitely add up. So I’m not trying to be flippant with what I’m about to say, but I do think it’s an important distinction to be made when one is saying how “expensive” children are.

Kids aren’t expensive. Greed is.

Kids don’t “need” designer clothes, Etsy outfits, brand new everything, more shoes than they can wear before they grow out of…

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