Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Teaching Philanthropy

The Haitian earthquake and the outpouring of relief in its aftermath have had an impact on Lindsey's perception of the world.

First, I made the mistake of allowing her to browse my new iTouch. She went straight to the video app which defaults to showing all of the top viewed videos...which were all of the Haiti relief. Videos of mountains of rubble, of injured people being pulled from the remains of buildings, of food and water being distributed. She only watched these videos for maybe 5 or 10 minutes while I cooked dinner, but it definitely made an impact.

Suddenly she came running up to me to show me one of the videos. It was the one of Michelle Obama, asking people to text "Haiti" to 90999 to donate $10 to Haitian relief. Lindsey's response was, "We can help those people! Let's do this so we can help them!"

Sure, absolutely.

I showed Lindsey as I texted this on my cell phone. I immediately got a response asking me to confirm that I am donating $10 to the American Red Cross. I texted "yes," and got a thank you text in response.

"There," I said, "We just donated some money to help them."

Lindsey felt really good, and I felt really good about teaching her philanthropy. Or so I thought.

A couple of days later Lindsey asked me when our dollars were going to make a difference. Hmmm...what do you mean?

Well, she still heard about the disaster, and there were still people trapped under the rubble, and people without food or water, and babies dying, and when was the ten dollars that we donated going to help make all of this go away?

I wish it were that simple. What a great lesson for me in learning the instantaneous gratification that she desires in life: she wants a toy, she gets it. She wants to have a playdate, she has one. She wants to make a difference, she wants to make a difference today.

It is frustrating to think that those millions that were donated could not immediately make the Port au Prince airport go from 30 incoming flights to 130 flights daily, that it will take time, possibly years, for Haiti to recover from this.

I think that it's time that we do some volunteering together. Then she can feel that instant gratification of helping people...right now.

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