My children have never been solely focused on acquiring new things during the holiday season, but as gifts are given, it is unavoidable we acquire more. The story of Naomi Kodama inspired me to think of how our children can learn more about giving with a cause rather than simply receiving and giving out of the obligation of holidays and birthdays.
Naomi is an eighth grader being honored by the United Nations.
“Nearly one million people die of malaria every year and most people are under the age of 5,” said Naomi…
“It’s kind of hard to celebrate your birthday if you see a tragedy,” said Naomi.
Since then, all Naomi’s birthdays have been about, not what she can get but what she can give…
This year, she traveled with her parents to West Africa, to an orphanage in Mali where she handed out dozens of toys and stuffed animals.
“You see the kids. Their eyes, just to get a teddy bear. They don’t have anything but the teddy bear was so precious,” said Naomi’s mother Cristina Kodama.
“Just seeing them have the toy in their hand and they’re like screaming and being like happy. I never imagined it would be like that,” said Naomi.
At Naomi’s request, the toys were all donated by her classmates at West Middle School.
Naomi’s lastest mission is Nothing but Nets, an organization that for $10 sends a mosquito net that will protect a family from malaria.
Whether it is collecting toys for less fortunate children or money for nets, I feel our children can learn from and be inspired by Naomi to be the change and embrace compassion for children around the world. Such action is much more powerful when started by children themselves.
I just sent a net, won’t you?
World travel does broaden our children’s compassion and open up conversation about suffering. For my daughter, it was seeing gypsies with deformities outside Italian duomos that opened her eyes. She was not inspired, as Naomi, to go beyond her means to ease such suffering, but perhaps as her mother, I took charge of to whom and where we would donate robbing her of the opportunity. Inspiring children come from inspiring parents.