Tuesday, July 31, 2012

on lost childhood

This to me is a perfect image of childhood: long lazy summer afternoons filled with nothing but magic adventures. No responsibilities, no chores, no fear. 

Nothing like the childhood of most children I encounter through my work.

People often tell me that children in the west are spoilt. “Vizziati”  And it is true. But the bottom line is, I don’t know what life is going to throw their way. I don’t know what things I wont be able to protect them from, so I’m not about to go about making their life difficult just for the sake of it. I’ll teach them values. I’ll try to teach them as much as I can about the world, justice, and their debt for having been born privileged, on the right side of the fence. And I will let them enjoy their lazy long summer days in the sun. Let it soak in their skin and their soul. They’ll at least have that when the rainy days come.

This post is in support of the WorldVision initiative to raise funds for children in danger 

All donations will be matched by the UK Government pound-for-pound, so we can help children fight malnutrition now while investing in their future.
If you’d like to help raise awareness, feel free to join the blog hop, (Then include the link: https://www.worldvision.org.uk/giving-forms/single-gifts/*/giftId/62/)
or imply choose a picture you feel best represents childhood and post it to their wall or on twitter (tag   )
And tag two more people to join in.
I’m tagging -

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Aid enabling environment, or as I like to call it, grandma and grandpa

“How do you manage to do what you do with small children and a family?”

This is a question I get often.

For one, I’ve got a supportive partner that does not give me any crap when I strand him alone with the kids for three weekends in a row, and other such glamorous facets of the aid industry.

We have help, which is vital for the kid’s stability and routine to continue when one parent is in the office and the other half way across the world. Let alone key for maintaining some order in a house populated with more children than adults. And yeah, our sanity.

But key to making it work, the unsung heroes, remain the grandparents, none of which live in the same city, actually, none of which live in the same continent, and still manage to pack their bags and sail the oceans to the rescue of my little souls.

For over three years now they’ve timed their visits with my extended absences so that their novelty, their games and  their indulging fills the emotional void that having mommy away can create in a small child. So that the days and hours pass by just that little bit faster. They fill their time with fun and distractions, outings, and most importantly, dedicated  attention and love, all the while strengthening their sense of identity, their roots, their language and the bond with the extended family, always physically far from us.

I like to think that they get something out of it, but clearly we are the main beneficiaries. The children get the things I listed above, while I get the peace of mind that  comes from knowing that they could not be in better hands.

My children are fully bilingual in spite of the fact that before this last year they'd never lived in a country where the local language coincided with either of theirs. They look forward to our yearly pilgrimage “home”, a place they’ve never lived in and probably never will,  to seeing the cousins they see once or twice a year, but adore,  and the routines they’ve become accustomed to. And there is no doubt in my mind that the grandparents have played a pivotal role in this. That they are like an emotional umbilical cord that unites them to their roots and an identity we hope they will be able to inherit in spite of their nomad upbringing as global expats and third culture kids. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

First there was, and then there wasn’t

“First there was, and then there wasn’t”

This is how an old Iranian folk tale begins. It always struck me as a very simple way to convey a not so simple truth. A rather  robust and finite truth. 

I’m not even sure it is a real tale. Perhaps it is just a tale within a tale, but -the story goes-  the author began to write it in order to ensure that these old traditional tales would not be forgotten, and was himself killed before he was able to finish.  The last story, the one where the bird that had travelled the world in search of the most beautiful tale was to find it,  the one the author  sacrificed so much for to ensure would be put to paper,  his own time with his own children unaware he would never see those children  again,  would as a consequence remain unwritten, and left to be finished by our imagination.

Is an unfinished  story still a story?

Is an unfinished tale any less of a tale?

Is a dream that starts with thunder and lightning but does not end any less of a dream?

Is it enough that it was dreamed, sometime, somewhere.
Is it enough that it can still be dreamed at night when the clouds tuck us in?

First there was and then there wasn’t…. some times there is little else left to say.