Tuesday, November 14, 2006

My Brave Little Boy

Every year the kids' school has this walkathon thingy. They come home with a donation form and the kids are encouraged to collect donations for a certain charity. Last year it was for the Tsunami Fund, this year it's for the Save The Children Fund.
Last year the kids didnt do anything about it, and I did not push them, but this year they showed quite an interest, asking me how they were supposed to fill up the form, what were they supposed to do with it and stuff.
So I promised them that after having their after school snack yesterday, they could go out and go from house to house to ask for donations. Taufik thought it'd be a good experience as well, at the very least, they would learn how hard people have to work to get money.
I really didnt expect much.. my kids can be quite shy with strangers, so I taught them a script. When people answer the door, Introduce yourself, then tell them you're collecting money for the Save The Children Fund (it's written on the form), will they donate some money please? When they do, say Thankyou.
So after having their snack yesterday, they rushed me through my email-reading session and got on their bikes while I push Izani in the stroller.
The first house they went to was our next door neighbour. I watched from afar.
When my neighbour answered the door, I heard "Hi" then mumble mumble "school" then mumble mumble "can you give us money?". My neighbour's husband is a really cheerful guy so he was all "oh. okay okay let me read the paper" then he wrote his name and gave Ihsan whatever change he had.
The kids were so happy with their first accomplishment that Ihsan came up with a plan. Why don't we split up? he said, Abang (Ilham) and Anis can go on the other side of the compound, and he will go with me on this side of the compound.
I told him that that was a good idea and asked Ilham and Anis whether they would like to do that and they too, agreed.
So off we went.
I had expected them to go to each and every house, but they were too shy and decided to only go to houses of people they knew, which are basically, people who ride on their school bus. So within 15 minutes they all had come back together. Ihsan had 2 names, Ilham had 1 name and Anis.. well she didnt really bother.
We went for another round, this time all 3 kids went to one other house (another lady from the bus) and got 10riyals. Taufik met up with us in his car on his way home from work and he left to change his shoes.
Ihsan then did something unexpected. He said "I'm going to go to 150, then I'm going to go to her neighbour".
150 is my husband's colleague and they don't have kids, so Ihsan only knew them because I've been sending food to the wife during ramadhan.
He pressed the bell and no one answered. The car wasnt there, so I told Ihsan maybe they were not home. He looked a bit dissapointed, but recovered and asked me whether he could ask 151 (the house next to 150). Sure, I said.
He hesitated at first. He went on the steps then came back down, so I encouraged him and said "Go ahead". He asked, "what if they say no?" to which I told him to just say "Thankyou" and leave.
He pressed the bell and turned back to grin at me.
A man answered the door, I didnt hear what Ihsan said to him but he went in and then a teenage girl (his daughter I presume) came out. She talked to Ihsan for a bit, then I saw her filling up the form and giving Ihsan a few dollar bills. I yelled "Say Thankyou" to Ihsan and he did to the girl and came running down to me so proud of himself.
It was getting dark so I told them it was time to go home. We were walking home when Taufik pointed to a house at the end of our block and asked Ihsan to try asking that house. Ihsan, having more confidence now, took up the challenge and went up to the door and pressed the bell, while I stood at the end of the driveway with Izani on my hips. Taufik and the other kids decided to walk staright home.
Sabnam (this really nice lady living in that house) opened the door and patiently listened to Ihsan introduce himself and tell her what he needed. I saw her put her palms on her cheeks in delight and she looked at me and waved me to come in. So Ihsan, Izani and I were invited into her house, where we were served orange juice. She kept praising Ihsan for his noble gesture and came out with her bowl of change and asked Ihsan to pick out all that are Saudi coins. So that's what the 3 of us did on her sofa, going through her change bowl while talking about the countries she's been to based on the different coins that she had.
We went home to count the money, and Ihsan ended up with SR26.30, while Ilham managed to collect SR20. (We will need to help Anis later in the week).

I was so proud of my kids' ability to kindly approach strangers, especially Ihsan's.
I really didnt expect them to be able to do this since they are usually quite shy, and Ihsan really suprised me with his braveness.
They are now all pumped up to do it again this afternoon. I don't know whether they'll learn the leasson that Taufik wanted them to learn (i.e. how hard it is to get money) because so far, people seems to have been very generous with them, but at least they'll be learning essential people skills and have so much more confidence in themselves.

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