The thing I love about children around the world is that they always seem happy, no matter what their circumstances.
Our first stop on a children’s tour around the world is Belize, a small country in Central America, and home to a dear friend of mine who provides love and security for girls at risk. Here I had a chance to visit some of them at school and share my Lions in the Moonlight book with them. This little book, with illustrations drawn by my grandchildren, has found its way into 18 different countries, and into the hearts of many children and adults alike.
Heading farthur south now, Dick and I venture into the center of Peru traveling with our friends, Harry and Linda and Tom and Kay. In this picture I have just received a hug and a Mother’s Day card from a delightful little girl in one of the classes we visited. Our Tom, Dick and Harry contingent brought some school supplies, toys and health kits to share with the students, and it was a joy to spend some time in their everyday setting.
Next stop in Peru was seeing the llamas and how people work and make a living. I asked this little girl if I could borrow her hat. She giggled and giggled when she saw how funny I looked in it.
Her father and baby sister were close by making beautiful colors to sell to the tourists. We saw the llamas and watched them dye the wool that is woven into these splashes of reds, blues and yellows.
Moving on to Senegal, West Africa, on our trip around the world, we encounter the Taliban boys who spend their day begging on the street. The boys have an hour around noon to find a short time of refuge in this center that provides some learning, playtime and a small loaf of bread, called a baget, with butter. We provided the playtime for these few days and cherished seeing their beautiful smiles even in the toughest of circumstances.
And this is a picture of a working mother in Senegal. Always a baby on her back and making lovely jewlery day after day. It’s not easy to sell, sell, sell to these tourists who come their way. There are many sellers and the choices are wide and varied. It took a long time for me, who wears very little jewlery, to decide to buy. With much persistance from the one who had singled me out, I finally bought a colorful neckace made from parts of a coconut, that I now absolutely love wearing.
Our journey has now brought us to South Africa where we are enjoying a walk around Soweto and learning much of the sad history of this beautiful country. Children need love and attention wherever they are, and we tried to give as much as could as we walked among them.
Our daughter, Gina, spent 3 years in South Africa, dedicating some of her time to orphanges with children born with AIDS. On our last day there we got to meet some of the kids that had stolen her heart. We have always refered to Gina as a “kid magnet.” They seem to sense the love in her heart for them and flock to her whenever she enters a room with children.
This is a picture that Gina took in Mozambique, another country in Southern Africa. It shows kids in their neighborhood through an open window, and although I know little about it, I just couldn’t let this stunning photograph out of my blog.
If you are following along on a map, we are now moving north to Egypt, at the very top of Africa. I chose this picture because of the happy children getting out of school and following us. Another reason is that the colors are so vivid it could resemble something that was planned rather than a random snapshot.
According to our guide, these boys, pictured above, are not in school, nor are they in forced labor. They are learning a trade by working long hours in this carpet factory in Egypt. This is their lot in life and where they go from here is anyones’ guess. Beautiful children, none the less.
Here in Israel we take a quick look at boys who have, perhaps, a better chance in life.
As we pass by we take notice to these boys playing or just walking home from school in a street in Jerusalem. Governments and politics mean little to children. They seem to make the best of whatever comes their way and survive in spite of what goes on around them. It is the same all over the world.
A high privelidge for Dick and I when we visited Turkey was having the opportunity to teach these teens during a conference held for their parents. In this lovely setting we learned a lot about TCK’s or Third Culture Kids. These are those whose parents are from America, but their children have grown up in another country. We found these kids to be wise beyond their years with a broad world perspective.
Our trip this time ends in the slums of Thailand. These children spend time in this center learning English and life skills, along with sports and the Bible. This young man standing in front of his class is proudly reciting several Bible verses in his native language. The kids are also provided with a small meal because their parents are gone to work in the afternoon and evening and no one is at home to care for them. So the Sports Center, with a mission to care for these, is staffed by volunteers and open those evening hours.
Today in America I am thinking of the many children who have lost their lives in several tragedies that have come our way in recent days. I pray for their families and encourage others to pray for those who have lost so much. Hold tight to your children, give them the gift of your time, and your unconditional love. Children all over the world are God’s gift to us.