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Teaching our children about poverty

World Vision
10 March 2016 by Moira Neagle
Teaching our children about poverty

Photo by Vanndeth Um, World Vision

Most of us are very fortunate in not having experienced the constant gnaw of hunger, the all-consuming want for water to drink or the pain and discomfort which is the reality when there is no medical services. It is, therefore, difficult for us and our children to understand what it means to not have these things in abundance.

We have an obligation to teach our children that what they have, so many children don’t. This can be done through modelling supportive behaviour towards humanity in general. By firstly, the daily demonstration of how we value food, water, education, access to health services.

For example, food should not be wasted. Demonstrate to your children moderation. We can choose not to eat more than we need, to save leftovers for another meal and to place scraps in compost, worm farms or to feed hens – all of which are valuable to the growth of vegetables in our gardens.

Secondly, we can provide opportunities for our children to learn about how for many on our planet, plentiful food is not a daily experience. When there is a news story about famine, war, drought talk about what is happening around the family table. Give them access to information and discuss how we can help. This might be through the family choosing to take part in the 40 Hour Famine and seeking sponsorship to do this. Follow the dollars which they raise to the delivery of help to communities.

Talking with our children is so important in so many ways. We are the first view of the world our children have. What we value is registered by them. When we discuss with them how a person might come to end up sleeping on a park bench, we are giving them some insight into the inequalities of life.

We, as adults, can be powerful in showing kindness and generosity toward others. When we help others in our community who going through a hard time by cooking for the sick, gardening for the elderly, stopping to assist those in difficulty, we are demonstrating through actions the responsibility we have to help others. What we do is carefully noted and copied by our children.

Take a look at World Vision’s School Resources for some useful ideas to help you teach your children about poverty.

Moira Neagle Moira Neagle

Moira Neagle is a principal of a small rural South Australian primary school. She writes for two local country newspapers and the state’s farming newpaper.


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