Tuesday, November 25, 2014

“My name is Beatrice and I am 22 years old. One night when I was five years old my five siblings and parents were killed inside our house in Burundi as I hid under the bed. In the morning the rebels heard I was still alive and came searching for me. I ran to a banana plantation and the people paid the rebels a goat so they wouldn’t kill me. I remember so clearly running away into the bush and finding my Uncle’s dead body being eaten by dogs. A lady helped me hide in the bush for a week. We dug a pit and buried ourselves in soil with just enough air to breathe. After a week went to a refugee camp where I was handed over to a woman who made me suffer by not giving me food like the other children. In 2003 I fled to Rwanda and spent three years there in a refugee camp until they kicked us out in 2006 and I came to Uganda. I arrived here when I was 17 and faced ethnic violence threats. People told me that I would be killed because I come from a certain tribe that had testified against the rebels and so I went to see the camp commander and he gave me a small house and guards to protect me for 8 months.  One day I was poisoned and had to spend a couple weeks in hospital. As I was heading back to the camp I was raped. Shortly after I gave birth to the baby I started to feel like my problems were too high and I abandoned that child. But as I went back home my heart thought of that baby and I went back and picked her up.  A few years later I was co-erced into marrying a man and becoming his second wife. While I was in hospital giving birth to my second child I missed an important interview for resettlement overseas.  I don’t think I have any hopes for the future. The moment you brought your Tutapona program it started scratching my wound and it became fresh again. I have trusted many people and they have all disappointed me. I am a Christian but I hate people so much I struggle to even greet them. I love my children but I am unable to plan for their future because I have nothing.”

Sadly, our program doesn’t work for every person, every time. We believe that the Bible teaches that some are called to plant the seed, others to water and others to harvest. In this case our prayer is for the seed planted to one day bear great fruit. Until then, pray with us for her!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

10 Fascinating Insights into raising 6 children in 6 very different countries.

Have you ever wondered what it might be like to raise a child in Asia, The Middle East, Europe, Africa, The Pacific or America?
I have.
So that's why I decided to interview six incredible mothers from six very different countries to gain a fascinating insight into that very question.
For comparison sake I've chosen to interview young mothers with young girls.

Do we have similar joys? Similar struggles?
You decide.

The Pacific Africa Middle East North America Asia Europe
Who and Where Sarah & Aubrey (1) Australia
Ruth & Aubriel (1) Uganda
Kristen & Ava (4) Dubai
Natalie & Sophie (1) California
Jenny & her  girls
Hong Kong
Camilla &  Katia (5) Paris
As a mother I'm. Calm Unstructured Affectionate Loving
Nurturing Loving Hands-on creative Deliberate Flexible Playful Loving
Easy going Playful Devoted
My child is... Joyous
Compassionate Caring Imaginative Happy Aware Determined Active
Energetic Sociable Sensitive
Describe an average day It's Groundhog Day everyday- but would I change it? Nope! It's full of fun/cuddles/kisses/food/play and watching Aubrey learn new things. Up at 7am and at work by 8:30am as a househelper. My daughter comes with me every day to work as I cook, clean and wash for an American family. At 5pm we go home and I bathe her, do some washing and cook dinner. I finish off the day by reading my Bible and go to sleep at about 8:30pm. Bright early mornings (Ava still wakes with the sunrise mosque calls) getting ready for school routines. My husband or I then walk with her to class as we are both teachers at her school. We both work all day and then come home to make dinner as a family, "play house", go to the grocery store or go to the beach. We might do arts and crafts and finish off with her night time routine of bath, books, a show, and Jon and I singing Ava to sleep! Then we usually have an hour to hang out as a couple, watch a show etc and off to bed until the next bright early morning! Eat, explore, sleep, repeat. I keep her fed and I (try to) keep her out of mischief! If the weather is nice, we go for a walk before dinner. Up early to prepare breakfast and a lunch box for them before they jump on the school bus. I do sports, housework and enjoy time with friends until they finish school.  Drop daughter off at school, go to work, pick daughter up from after school care, cook dinner, put daughter to bed, do odd jobs then study/relax in front of TV/ with a book. Weekends are usually taken up with birthday parties, cleaning, shopping and church. If we have the time and energy we'll also try to catch up with friends.

Something unique about where your child lives? Even though we live in the sububs we can often smell and see the smoke from the bushfires. In Uganda we see goats and guns every day. We don't have malls or good roads. We live a simple life but we are happy. We watch TV rarely. In Dubai we really only have one season - and that is hot and sunny. The older Ava gets the more she's realizing it's just not like her cousins/ grandparents. She loves the Skype dates where she can see the snow at Grammas. In California, kids can play outside every day, here, because we have such sunny weather year-round. Here in HongKong it is very international. We have the opportunity to make lots of different choices about our lifestyle.  Kids start school very young (between 2.5 and 3.5), but school can be interrupted or cancelled at any time because of the french love of industrial action. Having to deal with kids in an apartment during long wet winters is not ideal.
Biggest challenge each day? I have made a challenge for myself everyday. When Aubrey was about 3mths I found myself just being "complacent" about being a stay at home mum and "forgot" what a privilege that is.. So I challenged myself to find "Joy" in EVERYday- whether that be Aubrey smiling, learning something new, getting her to sleep quickly or having fun playing! I'm a single mother raising a 1 year old. Each day I have to take her to work and if she is sick or fussy or crawling around that can jeapordise how well I do my job and that stresses me out. I feel guilty about that. Wanting to know that I'm doing a good job, being a good mom. Making sure I'm making the right choices for my family. I find it a challenge to not be too hard on myself and the decisions I make for my family. It's a lot of responsibility! My children are always doing the same mistakes everyday, even after I tell them lots of times. I need a lot of patience. Finding the time and energy every day to be the mum I want to be (especially at the moment being pregnant as well). I definitely don't always manage!
Best thing about being a Mum? Knowing that Aubrey is a piece of my husband and I is a miracle! Learning more about myself as a person and and my abilities to deal with things and getting big sloppy kisses all the time! Having company all the time That feeling you get when your child gives you the biggest hug, smile, acknowledgment- and you know that the unconditional love you have is shared. Discovering the world with her. It is more vibrant and colorful than I remember, and much more exciting. Growing and learning with them together. I am like a big sister. My daughter! Watching her budding personality and her discovery of the world.
The one thing that's surprised you about motherhood? I'm surprised that motherhood can be quite "lonely" at times- and I think we as mothers don't like to talk about this (when really we should!) cause we don't want to seem "incapable" or less than strong. Also, I was so afraid becoming a mum would change (in a negative way) my relationship with my husband. It has changed in that we can't just drop everything to go on a date or we don't have as much alone time, BUT we have become creative in finding special moments during the day or once Aubrey is asleep to enrich our relationship just that bit more! My day to day life completely changed. Before when I wanted to go out I would just take my purse and go. Now I have to take a big bag  - and its all full of her stuff! That as a mom you really do adapt and change and the things you thought you would do aren't always the way that works for you and your family...and that's ok! If you thought you were flexible before, you weren't. I know that my children can feel my love now. They are also at an age where they appreciate what I do for them. I think that before becoming a parent we have a lot of ideas about how we will raise our children, the boundaries we'll set etc. I was surprised by how much my ideas of parenting changed when I had to actually do it myself.
Best thing about growing up in your country? She has every opportunity to develop into a strong, passionate, inclusive and educated woman- where women are seen as overall equal to men. She also gets to grow up in a stunning country too! She has great communities, schools, healthcare etc at her fingertips. This is her motherland, she gets to know her culture and her people. She speaks two languages as both English and the local language are readily spoken. And she has a rich culture to be proud of.  The multi-cultural lifestyle she gets to experience everyday. Her friends, our friends, her teachers - she gets to interact with people from all over the world. I think she is so fortunate to be exposed to so much so little. Ava at 3 has already been on over 30 flights and visited 5 countries! In America my daughter has access to endless opportunity In Hong Kong everything is very convenient. They can learn different languages and different instruments easily here.  We live in the outskirts of Paris in an incredibly multicultural area. My daughter is of mixed race and I love how colour-blind she and all her friends are. I hope that she'll be able to find out who she is as a person before she has to worry about the labels others might put on her. (Having the chance to learn another language is also an advantage:)
Favourite quote about motherhood "You will never have this day with your children again. Tomorrow, they will be a little older than they were today. This day is a gift, breathe and notice, smell and touch them; study their faces and little feet and pay attention. Relish the charms of the present. Enjoy today Mama, it will be over before you know it" Jen Hatmaker "When you have a child you cannot ever really die for you will never be forgotten"
African proverb
The best advice I have received was not in words but in actions. My mother was and is still the this day the best role model there is. I would love for Ava to grow up feeling as loved as I did. "The cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow But children grow up as I’ve learned to my sorrow. So quiet down cobwebs; Dust go to sleep! I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep." - Ruth Hulburt Hamilton n/a n/a
Best advice you've ever recieved? "Do what works for you and your baby". "Know that you are raising up the next generation and what a privilege that is!". "You can only do what you can do", "Trust your mama instinct!" "Raise a child God's way. Dont make her do what you want her to do or what you want others to see her doing." "Strive everyday to be caring, and nurturing, crafty and creative, and to open your doors to as many people and opportunities as you can." "You set the schedule, not baby. Baby will follow your lead." "As mothers we all need our own free social time." Also, "Consider the fact that you are also growing with your children." "Do whatever allows you to get the most sleep!"