Matthew 25 Challenge Day 5: Childhood Lost

This week, things on the blog and on my social media are going to be looking a little bit different. It's because this week, we are being challenged together through the World Vision Matthew 25 Challenge. In case you missed it, you can get the whole explanation here

"...I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me..." Today's challenge is to pray for someone you know that is going through a hard time. 

Family challenge: put together a blessing bag you can keep in your car to hand to someone in need. A blessing bag is easy to make! Fill a Ziploc bag with non-perishable food items like granola bars and water bottles as well as personal care items like a toothbrush, shampoo, and wipes. 

child labor and a girl in a bangladesh school

Matthew 25 Challenge Day 5: Childhood Lost

childhood lost a young girl does work on a farm

I really like kids. 9 times out of 10, I actually would prefer to strike up a conversation with a child rather than an adult. I just think they are pretty cool humans and I love getting a glimpse into their world. 

I didn't really know what to expect when I visited Bangladesh last February with World Vision. The one thing that I won't forget is that so many of the children I met in Bangladesh had lost that sparkle I've come to expect to find when I look in a child's eyes.

The realities of living life in extreme poverty wear down that twinkle that you normally see until it was dull and I'd find myself looking into the eyes of a child that was a dark expressionless void.
Poor water and sanitation, the highest rate worldwide for early marriage, children entering the workforce before puberty, those are the realities that plague a child's future in Bangladesh and dull that sparkle.

I wrote about my experience visiting a special afternoon school that was created by World Vision to help meet the educational needs of children ages 8-14 who had to drop out of school to enter into the workforce. You can read about it here.

Here are some of the highlights.

One afternoon we gathered in the entryway alcove of a dark office building. Behind a small gate, we stepped over the threshold to find a dozen kids sitting around a mat on the floor looking up at a teacher writing on a small office whiteboard. Educational posters were tacked to the walls on top of an old restaurant billboard.

a school in bangladesh for street children

The kids gathered were street children age 8-14. There were two boys but the rest of the children there were girls. They dropped out of school to work barely before their education even started because their families were desperate for money even if the children were earning only pennies. The children introduced themselves and told us what they did for work. I couldn't help but focus on a little girl with curly pigtails sitting in the back row. She didn't even bother to stifle her yawn, her eyes tired after a long day's work.

street children tired after a days work

She's twelve. The same age as my youngest son and her job is to pick up rice that has fallen from bulk bins at the market grain by grain and take it home to her family. She receives her day's wages for her work in food rather than in money.

street children in bangladesh get to go back to school

We heard the kids tell us about how they are all in special school program now from 3-5 pm every day. They meet after they complete their jobs or between shifts, sometimes walking up to an hour to get to the center for the class. In just two years, the program funded by World Vision sponsorship programs will help the kids get back on track to re-enter formal education. During that time, their parents or caregivers will also receive training on income-generating activities that they can do to replace the children's lost wages the family has grown dependent on

Don't miss the rest of that post: Read Light the Spark in a Chid's Eyes

It's not uncommon for childhood to be lost because of the realities of extreme poverty, but as parents, it's something we have a hard time even wrapping our minds around when we struggle to get our own kids to pick up their school bags or put away the stacks of recently washed and folded clothes.

Many children who live in extreme poverty are too busy trying to stay alive, that they don't have the luxury of being children. It's a childhood that is lost.

small child taking care of her baby sister
My husband and I think it's so very important to model and engage our children in volunteering in our community. Several years ago I put together my top 5 reasons why you should actively seek out those opportunities {even when it's difficult!}.

Top 5 Reasons You Should Volunteer as a Family And How to Get Started!

I won't share all of my reasons, but I think today it's worth mentioning the second one on my list.

Volunteering helps teach children that the world's solutions aren't black and white.

There are a lot of reasons why people end up in situations that they end up in. Children tend to think in a very black and white way. Kids can think, why don't we just give a homeless person a house or if we give the kids sandwiches they won't be hungry. These are all true things but it doesn't give us a long term solution. Volunteering gives kids a greater world view to be able to see that the solutions aren't simple. We can help this one person right now with the need that they have and in the future, maybe our kids will be the ones with a solution to a larger scale problem.

Poverty is a difficult subject to tackle with our children, it's so important to start that discussion though because it's easy for us to disconnect when we are faced with a situation that makes us uncomfortable. Here are some of my suggestions on how I'm doing that as a white suburban mom raising kids in a gated neighborhood.

Open Your Child's Eyes to Poverty

Bonus challenge: Spend some time checking out these 10 fun family activities to pay it forward and make a plan for spring or summer break to do a few of them as a family.

Today's topic during our challenge and in the family guide, might just really hit home as you think about children around the world, that are the same age as your own, experiencing some really hard realities of life.

Don't forget to join in and share your experience from the challenge today. Use #M25challenge to find, follow and post on social media.

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