No matter what your religion … or whether you’re “Christian”, “Catholic”, “Muslim”, “Hindu”, “Agnostic” or “Atheist” … all of us agree that this world needs more peace and less strife. Particularly for the children, and the Newtown Sandy Hook School massacre brings the point home all too clearly. Grim images from around the world only emphasize that it’s the innocent children that pay the consequences of adult atrocities all too often.
Hug everyone dear to you a little closer and make a New Year’s Resolution to see what changes you can bring to enhance children’s lives that you come into contact with while cruising.
Meeting children cruising is such a special part of the experience. If you’re lucky enough to get to know some of the kids and get involved in their day to day lives, celebrations, joys and families, you have exponentially enhanced your cruising experiences.
Please, keep in mind that interacting with children does NOT need to include sweets and candy. Too many cruisers limit their interaction with children to passing out some sweets – which just contribute to rotting their already undercared teeth. Don’t do it. There are so many other options to interact and enhance lives. And the bigger the project you undertake, the greater satisfaction you will receive personally.
Everything from building schools or medical clinics, to a simple interaction that leaves a child smiling are all worthwhile. Unfortunately, often cruisers go in enthusiastically to help build a local school so the children have a place to get an education, but neglect the after … and so many nice buildings sit empty because the village cannot afford a school teacher. If you get involved with such a project, be sure to remind everyone that empty buildings without a doctor or nurse or medical supplies, or a teacher, do little good in their lives.
Other ideas include little plastic airplanes for boys and plastic jewelry for the girls. There are so many possibilities. Some like crayons and coloring books (keep in mind, if you take crayons, pencils or markers, they likely won’t have anything to write on). Other cruisers gave tattoos – one of the most popular items for the boys.
Don’t forget that often “giving” something isn’t the best way to interact. Can you volunteer to help do something – we “accidentally” charged a portable DVD player for a family in a San Blas village without electricity. The next day, the DVD player came back to be charged again. I was a bit aggravated since our supply of A/C is not unlimited. Then I found out that the DVD player is passed from one family compound to the next and each extended family got to watch a movie the week we were there. What seems like such a minimal contribution was very appreciated in this village – and yes, we recharged that DVD player multiple times daily while we were anchored there. 🙂
And, of course, there are bubbles … bubbles are a universal children’s language for smile! We took Aly’s leftover wedding bubbles the first time we tried this – they were a HUGE hit (after we showed the kids what they were and how to blow bubbles). And the small size and tightly capped little bottles meant we could take a bunch and not worry about keeping them upright or having them spill! After that, we just bought plain cheapo bubbles made for weddings.
If you get a chance to attend a local holiday parade or festival, by all means do so. This one in Portobello, Panama was amazing. The kids are the future of our world. Peace on Earth, Goodwill to All …. MERRY CHRISTMAS from Jan, David & s/v Winterlude!