Tag Archives | priorities

On not visiting an orphanage in Cambodia

A long time ago, Chris and I worked in an institutional care setting as foster parents with a number of vulnerable children. We lived in the same house, and were responsible for their everyday needs. We were ‘foster mum’ and ‘foster dad’ . It was hard.

Anyway, not once did a mini van full of tourists pull up and come in to hug, kiss and photograph the children. I would have called the police!! And never, ever, did the children have to dress up and dance to earn enough money to buy themselves food and clothing.

No, they were considered vulnerable, and entitled to privacy and security. As a matter of basic human rights they also received education, recreation, food, clothing shelter and participated appropriately in the community. I cannot tell you their names or why they were in care. I certainly can’t put their photos online.  The child protection system in Australia has many shortcomings, but this much at least, I believe, was done right.

In Cambodia, however, its a very different story.

Click here to read it

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Really hard!

 

“A sucker for punishment!”

“Better you than me! ”

That’s what the school mums said when we announced we were going to drive around Australia with a caravan.  They said if they did it, their kids would drive them up the wall and that they wouldn’t last a week. It would be really hard. 

I suppose I had no decent reply, because I was a little apprehensive about the whole thing myself. Now,  having survived, thrived and gloried in the whole experience, I can categorically say it wasn’t really hard. Most of it was wonderful.

 

Let me tell you what I find really hard to do now that I’m back in suburbia:

  • the same thing everyday
  • things that didn’t work last time
  • things in the company of stressed people who worry too much
  • things in a hurry
  • things in the company of my children when we are pulling against each other
  • things without my husband by my side, smiling at me
  • petty stupid pedantic bureaucratic ridiculous things
  • things that distract me from God’s beauty.

Washing up, cooking the same old stuff, cleaning, and driving in circles come to mind.  Not to mention negotiating the disability service minefield. Being a busy, stressed, over committed, rushed, suburban stay-at-home Mum; that is being a sucker for punishment.

Unless you really love it and thrive on it and are good at it.

I’m not.

Now, we are embarking on our next adventure, an open-ended trip to SE Asia and beyond. I’m again being warned about potential difficulty, risk and that the whole thing is going to be really hard. 

Actually , I know some days will be really hard. There will be broken gear, a hot baby, grumpy children, late buses, long walks, bad food, ripoffs, disappointments, missed opportunities, illness, theft and culture shock.

But I’m up for it, we are all up for it. We are craving a change of pace, and change of scene.

If there is spicy food and wide-eyed learning….I can handle a little really hard on the side.

The thing is, we are enormously privileged. Lots of people’s lives truly are really hard. The very poor, most women in many countries, child labourers, tireless advocates, political prisoners, the profoundly disabled, landless labourers……

We are privileged because we have choice. Since our quadruplets were born, I don’t thing we have had such a thing as an easy day. I mean, these things are relative, aren’t they?

We got used to never sleeping through the night, being vomited on, and having negligible social life. We survived frustrating appointments. We’ve done thousands of hours of  therapy. We’ve had many wakeful bedside nights in hospital armchairs.

We lowered our expectations. I consider it a success if I get one leg shaved!   If most of us are mostly clean most days, that’s a pass, isn’t it?

So rather than getting stressed about the really hard stuff that we are going to encounter as we travel, we are trying to view it as a privilege.

We get to choose which really hard stuff we get to do!!

Negotiating with Disability Services, or carrying Sparky up the Great Wall?

Not sleeping all night at home, or not sleeping all night on a beach in Kerala?

Going to work the next day, or catching a hot, slow train the next day?

See? We get to choose.

Not everyone gets to choose. Well, we choose to try really hard to travel well; caring for each other, spending ethically, listening closely, watching and absorbing, wondering and wandering, running and resting, laughing and crying, growing and changing.

These are the thoughts that spurs us to action:

Imagine if we had choice, but lived as if we didn’t? Imagine if we had the means, desire and opportunity to pursue a long held dream, and instead, just went with the flow? Imagine if we could, but never got around to it, and then it was too late?

Living with that would be really hard.

 

 

 

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