World Voice: Praying and Advocating for Education

World Voice: Praying and Advocating for Education

On a summer trip with our American martial arts school, my daughter and I were able to visit a very special place in South Korea. Haedong Yonggungsa Temple is a beautiful seaside Buddhist temple on the coast of the northeastern portion of the city of Busan.

Most Korean temples are located in the mountains, but this place was striking because of the way it was placed with its dragon and lion statues turned toward a seemingly infinite sea. Imagine meditating in the open air, facing into the sunrise with the vastness of the ocean before you, and the calming sound of waves surrounding you!

As we wound our way up and down stone steps, I was curious to see many small figurines of children crowding the ledges in the surrounding rocks. At first they looked like toys, but there were too many to be random. Our instructor explained that parents left them as tokens of prayer for their children to do well in school. There were even some stuck up on a statue of a dragon leaving me to think, “How in the world did a mom or dad climb way up there?” We also found more permanent statues labeled, “Statue of Buddha for Academic Achievement.”

It was touching to see obvious evidence of parental care in a place dating back to 1376 AD during the Goryeo dynasty. Seeing something so near to my heart as a desire for good education displayed prominently affirmed my belief that – no matter where we live – we want to give our children every chance to live the best lives they can.

As a RESULTS volunteer who advocates against global poverty, I’ve learned the statistics behind what every parent already knows: more school means more opportunity. For each year of school completed, an child’s future wages increase an average of 10 percent. The is even greater for girls. On average, for a girl in a poor country, each additional year of education beyond fourth grade will lead to 20 percent higher wages. On a country level, education is a prerequisite for short- and long-term economic growth. No country has achieved continuous and rapid economic growth without at least 40 percent of adults being able to read and write.

Sadly, 59 million children worldwide don’t have access to school today and even among those children who do make it into a classroom, a staggering global total of 250 million kids – nearly 40 percent of the world’s children of primary school age – can’t read a single sentence. Quality primary education isn’t the only challenge. Sixty-five million adolescents are currently out of secondary school, and over 80 percent of children in sub-Saharan Africa lack access to preschool.

I’m proud that the U.S. has long been a leader in supporting developing countries as they work to educate their children. But more must be done to increase the effectiveness and impact of this work. For my part, I am asking my U.S. senators to support the Education for All Act (S. 3256). A well-resourced strategy coupled with increased transparency and accountability is needed now to ensure the U.S. government effectively contributes to realizing quality education for children around the world.

I encourage every World Moms Blog reader who lives in the U.S. to also reach out to his or her own senators in support of the Education for All Act. For readers in other countries, find out what your government is doing to promote global education. After all, the United Nation’s Global Goal #4 is to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.”

This is an original post written for World moms Blog by Cindy Levin.

Cindy Levin

Cynthia Changyit Levin took her first advocacy action in 2001 with a hunger event at her church. Years later, after resigning from her position as an automotive engineer to raise her newborn daughter, she searched for a way she could better the world from home while caring for infants. She returned to advocacy and is now a dedicated volunteer activist with RESULTS, Shot@Life, ONE, and Bread for the World. Levin involves her young children in her advocacy activities, including face-to-face lobby meetings with members of Congress, letter-writing, and classroom advocacy projects. She shares what she has learned about advocacy through her Anti-Poverty Mom blog and training other activists with RESULTS. Her op-eds and letters-to-the-editor have appeared in Chicago area newspapers as well as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Washington Post, the New York Times and the international Financial Times. Levin has served on the Board of Directors for RESULTS/RESULTS Educational Fund and on staff with RESULTS Educational Fund as a fundraising coach for grassroots volunteers.

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USA: The Camping Trip

USA: The Camping Trip

tara4This summer my family went an overnight backpacking trip to a gorgeous meadow tucked in the mountains. Our party included me, my husband, my 10-year-old son, my 6-year-old son, and our dog. Our journey included walking 12 miles and climbing 2000 feet of elevation while carrying everything we needed. We have done this type of camping in the past with our kids, but this was the farthest distance to date for their little legs. My older son carried a proper pack with his own gear the entire way. My younger son carried a small pack filled with stuffed animals for about 1 hour of the trip before handing it off, but he managed to go the distance on his own two feet.

Trips like this are a ton of work, and truth be told, there were as many thorny moments as there were rosy. We were all so exhausted and crabby at one point that I was tempted to question whether the effort was worth it. But like all big undertakings with children, I believe you put in the time and roll with the ups and downs in order to build a better next time.  Or as my husband and I discussed, we needed to let them be maniacs and mess up so they could learn from experience, even at the expense of peaceful communion with nature.

Our biggest challenges:

tara3BUGS – The flies were awful, and the kids spent most of the time in a tent playing cards to avoid being bitten. I was not so lucky: I got a nasty bite on my back. The natural bug repellent I brought in an attempt to avoid harsh chemicals around the kids did absolutely nothing. So while we did not do a ton of exploring at our destination, a champion of Crazy Eights was decided amid a glorious setting.

DEER – I have encountered many deer throughout my life, but never have I seen deer so interested in humans. They visited our campsite regularly, at least 30 times. Our dog was not pleased and felt the need to alert us continually throughout the night. We had very little sleep because of those deer, but it was a clear reminder that we were guests in their home.tara1

HEAT – We were on the eastern side of a mountain range where it was blazing hot. We were so dry and covered with dirt that several hand washings once we got back to town still didn’t feel like enough. We live on the western side of the mountains, which is known for the dark, damp climate, so a little heat goes a long way with me. I was ready to retreat back to our cool, shady corner.

tara2The time to and from the car was a little over 24 hours, but it felt like days. That said, we did create some wonderful memories. We got to enjoy marmots whistling in the evening while the sun set over the mountain peaks. We imparted important back country skills to our boys around bathroom etiquette and water treatment. We slept under the stars and woke up in a meadow of wild flowers. We celebrated the accomplishment of seeing a place that you can only access on foot. We had an adventure that will hopefully serve as a building block for the adventures to come. And for that next adventure, I am definitely packing an arsenal of bug spray.

tara5

Tell us about a building block type of undertaking with your kids. What did you/they learn from it, and how did it go the next time?

This has been an original post for World Moms Blog by Tara B. Photo credits to the author.

Tara Bergman (USA)

Tara is a native Pennsylvanian who moved to the Seattle area in 1998 (sight unseen) with her husband to start their grand life adventure together. Despite the difficult fact that their family is a plane ride away, the couple fell in love with the Pacific Northwest and have put down roots. They have 2 super charged little boys and recently moved out of the Seattle suburbs further east into the country, trading in a Starbucks on every corner for coyotes in the backyard. Tara loves the outdoors (hiking, biking, camping). And, when her family isn't out in nature, they are hunkered down at home with friends, sharing a meal, playing games, and generally having fun. She loves being a stay-at-home mom and sharing her experiences on World Moms Network!

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USA: #FindYourPark

USA: #FindYourPark

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Horseshoe Bend, part of Glen Canyon NP in Arizona.

Are you working on planning a summer vacation with your family?  Are you interested in exploring amazing places?  What if I told you that you could find just the right place for your family and that you could make it affordable?  It’s right here…in your own backyard…it’s a National Park.   (more…)

Eva Fannon (USA)

Eva Fannon is a working mom who lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her hubby and two girls. She was born and raised on the east coast and followed her husband out west when he got a job offer that he couldn't refuse. Eva has always been a planner, so it took her a while to accept that no matter how much you plan and prepare, being a mom means a new and different state of "normal". Despite the craziness on most weekday mornings (getting a family of four out the door in time for work and school is no easy task!), she wouldn't trade being a mother for anything in the world. She and her husband are working on introducing the girls to the things they love - travel, the great outdoors, and enjoying time with family and friends. Eva can be found on Twitter @evafannon.

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MEXICO: Life Lessons – Climbing Parícutin Volcano

MEXICO: Life Lessons – Climbing Parícutin Volcano

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As a wife of one and a mom of four, it seems like I am always learning and discovering! I know I am not alone. Let’s just admit it: The world is a big place, life is a lesson, and children can be the best teachers.  Normally my series, Life Lessons with Mexico Mom,  is hosted on Los Gringos Locos, but today I am posting here on World Moms Blog.

Here are my insights and experiences as a Mexico Mom after we climbed Parícutin volcano in Southern Mexico. I don’t have the images edited yet or I would share! Stay tuned and watch for them on my blog. In the meantime enjoy our crazy experience. (more…)

Tina Marie Ernspiker

Tina lives abroad in Mexico with her husband and four children. She is active with homeschool, travel, and her Bible ministry. Tina loves photography and writing thus she blogs. Come join her adventures!

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SINGAPORE: Confession of a Selfish Mom

SINGAPORE: Confession of a Selfish Mom

Selfish-momAs mums, we are always seen as the one who should be self-sacrificing and present for our families. After all, we are the ones that our children turn to when they can’t go to bed, when they need a kiss on their boo boo or when they are back from school with a growling tummy that needs to be fed.

I’m not complaining about motherhood and there is nothing in the world I would trade it for. But some days, I feel so tired of playing mummy that I wish I could escape from all my mummy duties; and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only mum who feels this way.

And as you have it, I did get a little escapade when my group of girlfriends decided to head for a short weekend getaway to Thailand, sans husband and kids. Thankfully, my hubby was more than happy to step up and take care of my little one, giving them extra bonding time.

It turned out to be a weekend of shopping, eating and shopping some more; something that I hardly do with a little one who’s too inpatient to get out of the malls. And I could eat all the spicy food I wanted, which I usually avoid since I end up sharing most of my meals with my daughter. Nights were spent staying up late, chatting with friends and watching movies back in the hotel.

Did I miss my child? Of course, I did but you know what, it was refreshing to place myself first and not worry about my family during this break.

Sadly for mums, being selfish or putting ourselves first is regarded as a sin. And that’s why there are so many tired and depressed moms, who feel that they have no choice but to be dutiful and ignore their own needs.

Happy Mother = Happy Family

Never for a second did I think that I was a bad mom for going on that trip. I think that as moms, sometimes we need to choose ourselves over our families to ensure that we are recharged in order to go the distance and be a better spouse and better mother.

I love being a mom and while I’m far from being a perfect or super mom, I can say that I’m doing my best every single day.

My mantra has always been Happy Mother = Happy Family. And might I add for my hubby, Happy Wife= Happy Life.

So go ahead, take care of yourself. Pursue your personal happiness and take time to nourish yourself, body, mind and soul. Trust me, you’ll benefit from it and your children will too!

This is an original post to World Moms Blog from our “super mom” of one in Singapore, Susan Koh.

The image used in this post is credited to the author.

Susan Koh

Susan is from Singapore. As a full-time working mom, she's still learning to perfect the art of juggling between career and family while leading a happy and fulfilled life. She can't get by a day without coffee and swears she's no bimbo even though she likes pink and Hello Kitty. She's loves to travel and blogs passionately about parenting, marriage and relationship and leading a healthy life at A Juggling Mom.

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INDONESIA:  Explaining Poverty to Your Child

INDONESIA: Explaining Poverty to Your Child

povertytrainWhen it was time for my son to start school, I knew I wanted him to go to private school and thankfully, he was accepted into one of the international schools near our house.

Private school has its pluses and unfortunately its negatives too.

My son’s classmates are from the upper-middle class, those whose spring breaks were spent going to Japan or Hong Kong to visit Disney Land. The same kids who also have their own iPads and the latest cell phones.

I realized this might cause a challenge for us—with me being a single mom, who had just recently returned to the corporate world—but I try  not to let their different lifestyles make my son feel that he’s different.

So that’s why, on Easter weekend, I took him on a mini-getaway to my new job.

We did not take a taxi to get to my office, which is in a hotel. Instead, we rode the train like I do daily. I wanted to show him this is what his mother has to do to get to and from work. He got to see views that he won’t see from inside a nice air conditioned taxi or private car.

He loved staying in the hotel, just like most kids do, so we had a blast. But on our way home Sunday afternoon, the train was full. Not as full as it normally would be on a week day, still, we had to stand. We were leaning against the wall that separates the engine and the passengers. With the train swaying, it didn’t take long before my son told me he wished he could sit down.

Part of my mama bear instinct wanted to give him a seat but part of my tough love was to allow him to feel and experience how not everyone is blessed with a comfortable life.

I hope by showing him what I have to go through on a daily basis it will help him realize that I am working hard, that as the sole bread winner, I am providing for him. Yes, his father pays for school but outside of that, he is my responsibility and I’m doing my best to take care of him.

Yes, I told him I would love to be able to take him to Disney Land someday but for now, we have other priorities. Bills to pay, medicines to get for my parents, uniforms to alter, the list goes on.

Through our short train ride, my son was exposed to life “outside the fence”. What he saw through the windows of the train: makeshift shacks, houses built only inches away from the train tracks, kids playing soccer barefooted with garbage piling up around them. Hard life. The other side of glamorous Jakarta living.

We discuss this. He asked me why these people are living in such poor conditions. My heart ached having to explain that some people are not as fortunate as we are and that poverty is real.

We have a house to live in, a roof over our heads, while others came to the big city to chase their dreams and never made it. That’s why it is important for him to get his education so he can make a living for himself, one that hopefully he will love. I told him it is easy to look up and want what other people have but we need to be in the now, to be grateful for what we already have. To remember that there are those who need our help, who are struggling just to eat.

My wish is for my son to understand this, to grow up being grateful for what we have and to have a heart that is kind and willing to help others.

How do you explain poverty to your children?

This is an original post to World Moms Blog from our writer and single-mom to one in Jakarta, Tatter Scoops.

The image used in this post is attributed to Hideki Yoshida. It carries a Flickr Creative Commons attribution license.

Maureen

Founder of Single Moms Indonesia, community leader and builder. Deeply passionate about women empowerment.

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