Thank you my son
“Mom, today the teacher showed us an expensive pen that the father of one of our classmates had sent for her birthday. She also showed a bag that a boy’s parents had sent.”
I responded without stopping to think, “Do you want to take a gift for her too?”
My son replied, “Why should I? She will expect it all the time. She was not showing us the gifts because she wanted us to give her gifts.”
I was shocked into reality – in my moment of weakness, I had without even thinking given into my eagerness to keep my son in favour of the teacher.
My son had his principles intact.
This incident has been my beacon of light ever since.
Thank you Miki – I will always be indebted to you for showing me the strength and the inherent spirituality that is untouched in children – until we adults start the infiltration.
“Children are little Buddhas (enlightened beings)” is a saying that is often used by Tibetan elders. I have experienced that saying in real life. Adults start out with a precious soul to mould and yet there are too many instances similar to my sharing above which demonstrate the infiltration of our own weaknesses. Do we guide a small soul to a smooth journey or do we make their journey difficult, filling their souls with greed, desire and unwise selfishness? Worse still, do we actually contribute to making these souls ugly and full of hatred and violence? It is a heavy responsibility, but at the same time one that gives us hope because we can also actively contribute to a brighter future. The responsibility to bring up children as emissaries of compassion is in our hands.
Children have never failed me
I have worked with them directly for over a decade now. The first major experience was in the mid-90s. I organised a national level children’s conference on the UN’s Child Rights Convention (CRC) in Kathmandu, Nepal for UNICEF/Nepal. We invited children from as diverse as possible backgrounds — geographical, socio-economical and cultural. While planning the event, we knocked our heads together to think of ways to minimise the differences. First and foremost in our minds was bringing together the educated and privileged with street children and those who were bonded labourers. We were concerned about their ability to interact. Yet for the children, the educational, social and financial backgrounds were of no consequence. They simply had fun. The children taught the adults a lesson with their laughter.
One child’s smile from that event still blazes in my heart. He was a bonded labourer child who had not spoken much at all. At the farewell party he danced his heart out. Unfortunately, his “owner” did not allow him to come to the follow-up sessions. My commitment to finding ways to bring compassion to children was sealed in his absence.
Since then I have worked with street children, those from remote villages and with children from privileged backgrounds. I have organised workshops and training sessions and I have helped them to produce their own news magazines. The graduates from that first conference formed the first national children’s group called Bal Chetana Samuha (Child Awareness Group). It continues to this day. Some of the founding members are today adults who have started their own organisations. Some are working with children’s organisations, some have become parents and others have started their own businesses. Each one of them has contributed to a soft spot in my heart – they are my beacons of light and hope as they continue to teach the teacher. Now with the creation of the Veggie Mamas, our plan is to foster that passing on of the flame to the future generations.
We dream of wise selfishness
The Veggie Mamas’ mission is to give children the skills necessary to be “human” (read humane). “Human” means being caring, loving and compassionate without discrimination. “Human” also means being wise enough to see that we are inter-dependent — our happiness depends on the happiness of others. Imagine a world of people who live their lives according to the principles of wise selfishness. Concentrate on the happiness of others and we will be rewarded with our own happiness – a lasting happiness. Our dream is no less than to help all children strengthen this “human” quality regardless of background. They come to us from all walks of life: there is no discrimination against the poor or the rich, the north or the south, the high caste or the low caste. Here in Nepal, we reach out to a cross-section youth.
During the past decade of conflict (which is ongoing) a dark cloud has enveloped our children of Nepal. There is now an entire generation born into a culture of violence and hatred. They are growing into adolescents who have experienced violence first hand. There are young people growing up into adults learning that hatred is the way to get what you want. It is upon the adults — who are facing this brutality for the first time – to summon the courage, skill and wisdom to steer the future generations away from this brutal culture.
Hero deep within
There is a hero deep within each and every one of us. We want the children to know this truth. They are the heroes of our future. They are the ones who can teach us to believe in the power of love and compassion. We need to step up for them today to drive away the fear and darkness that has taken over the lives of the ordinary people over the decade of conflict. They are our beacons of hope.
Veggie Mamas promote compassionate living by incorporating it in the most basic of our daily life functions – eating. It is a small step and yet it is a giant step. With every bite we remind ourselves of the power of compassion and with every bite we remind ourselves of the possibilities for the future. That understanding lies at the core of our work with the children of Nepal. Our actions are mere drops in the ocean, but only by contributing those small drops of compassion can we make a mighty ocean that will turn the tide of hatred to a sea of compassion. This is where Veggie Mamas come in.
More Veggie Mama Stories:
- Losing a bit of compassion
- No Mashpo Momos!!!
- The Veggie Mamas’ Dream
- My First Shot at Becoming Vegetarian
- Mashpo Momo on the Go!
- Thank you my son
- About Veggie Mamas
Try the Mashpo Momo Recipe tonight!