Barefoot in Suburbia

Homeschooling & Special Needs, Inspired by the Montessori Way

Teaching Compassion & Service August 30, 2011

Filed under: Lower Elementary,Preschool Learning,Toddler learning — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 1:36 pm
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Finally, my last post for the day…I had quite a few to catch up on!  Thanks for bearing with me while I was trying to play catch-up.  It seems like all of our busy times and field trips have happened during the weekend or very beginning of the week, throwing off my posting schedule. 🙂

One of the things we try to instill in the children is the value of helping others.  With two children on the autism spectrum, it’s sometimes a very difficult task to get them to think outside of themselves, and imagine how another might be feeling.  However, as parents, we want our children to understand how incredibly fortunate we are to have a beautiful house in a safe neighborhood, plenty of food on the table, and good health to enjoy.  We want them to understand that it is not the case for everyone.  This is especially important for us, as we have seen firsthand the effects of crushing poverty.  Monkey was born in a very poor area of northern Vietnam, where some families live in cardboard shacks on top of garbage dumps, and some women are forced to give up the children they love simply because there is no way to afford to care for them.  An area with poverty that is so great that human trafficking is a thriving industry because those in poverty are tricked into selling their daughters.  Monkey spent her early months in a tiny little orphanage with no glass on the windows, and no access to life saving medical care.  That lack of access nearly cost Monkey her life…over something that is easily treated in the United States–severe dehydration caused by reflux due to a milk allergy.

It’s hard to imagine how crushing poverty can be, especially in countries without a welfare system or the ability to provide medical care to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it.  It’s hard to imagine what it must be like for a woman to give up her very own baby because she can’t afford to feed her.  Or what it must be like to have to make the choice to sell your child to human traffickers because you were tricked into thinking she would receive a better life.

These are the types of topics that are so very difficult for even adults to understand, let alone a child!  However, we try to find ways for our children to serve, in ways that even the youngest can understand.

One of the ways we have chosen to do this is by sponsoring an orphaned child.  Through the adoption agency Holt International, our family chose to sponsor an infant girl living in an orphanage in Hanoi, Vietnam.  This sweet little girl has been living in the orphanage since she was a newborn.  Every couple months, we receive new pictures and an update on our sponsored child.  One month, we received word that our little one was sick with dysentery (yes, for you Oregon Trails fans, this disease is still around, and still devastating).  Fortunately, she was able to receive the medical care she needed to save her life.  Jedi was especially happy to hear this, and said “Wow!  We helped her get medicine, and we could do that all the way across the world!”

This little one is very special to us for two reasons…first, of course, she shares the country of birth with Monkey.  That instantly helped the kids feel connected to her, even though we’ve never met her.  Second, she was born on the same day our deceased son would have turned 5 years old.  What a miracle to be matched with her!

The kids wanted to send a birthday gift to her because of her birthday coming up next week.  As Jedi said, we may not be able to have a party for our own son who has passed away, but we can help celebrate a little girl who has no one else to celebrate with.

The kids with their birthday package for Ngoc...a bib, a new dress, and a birthday letter that we wrote in English and Vietnamese. They are also looking at the pictures we have received of Ngoc.


We are so grateful to have the opportunity to help change the lives of a little girl halfway across the world.  We will continue to sponsor her until the wonderful day comes where she finds her forever family!  It’s such a simple thing to be involved in, but the kids absolutely love reading the updates we receive and seeing her new pictures.  The children can also choose to send pictures and letters to our sponsored child as well!


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