Younger Fives Present a Halloween Goodie Bag: UNICEF Comic, Travel Interview, and Slideshow

A note from Five of Hearts about the comic: I wanted to make this comic because I wanted to spread the word about trick-or-treating for UNICEF. It was a lot of fun. Storyboard That was a great tool and really helped. And I am looking forward to making more comics to teach people about other things. We have created an online Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF page, and we hope you can help us support UNICEF!
UNICEF Title

UNICEF Part 1

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UNICEF Part 2

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An Interview with the Younger Fives about Halloween, Poverty, and UNICEF

What is your favorite part of trick-or-treating on the fly?
High Five: I like having glow stick lights, all of the colors.
Five Ball: Well… I actually I jest like spending the time together and having fun.
Five of Hearts: I really like how each Halloween we are in a different place so we have new opportunity’s each Halloween.

When did you first notice that some kids have a lot and other kids have very little?
High Five: I saw kids who wanted to wash our Mazda 5.
Five Ball: La Paz. I saw kids washing cars.
Five of Hearts: In San Cristobal de las Casas I saw instead of kids playing kids were working. That is what really made me realize what poverty is.

How does seeing kids with very little make you feel?
High Five: Sad because they don’t do their school.
Five Ball: Sad because they don’t have a home.
Five of Hearts: It makes me feel very sad. And makes me want to do something to help them.

Why do you think UNICEF is important?
High Five: UNICEF helps kids have water, medicine, and food.
Five Ball:UNICEF helps kids.
Five of Hearts:Because UNICEF helps people have a better life.

 

The Fives’ Look at Halloweens Past

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Grateful to be Giving Back

As a family we feel so grateful that we can experience a life of living, loving, and learning on the fly. To “pay it forward” we try to volunteer or give back to the world whenever we can. While living in La Paz, Mexico we found that there was no shortage of charitable organizations that we could volunteer our time to. Below we have listed three of the organizations that we were fortunate enough to volunteer with during the past three months.

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Care For Kids La Paz provides school scholarships and a breakfast program for children living in the impoverished neighborhood of Vista Hermosa on the outskirts of La Paz. We spent several Saturdays shopping for and delivering the groceries that would be used to feed school children breakfast three times a week. Without this program many of these children would start off their day at school without a nutritious breakfast. As a family we loved that this volunteer opportunity allowed us to practice our Spanish while grocery shopping, meet and speak with local residents, and visit a part of La Paz that few tourists ever make it back to.

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Rancho el Camino offers programs for local children and teens in need, from street children to at risk youth. They provide camps throughout the year and offer programs at their ranch which center around caring for and riding horses. We volunteered our time with some of the staff of Rancho el Camino to clean up a playground in one of the neighborhoods where they work with children and families in need. When we arrived the park was in need of a major clean-up, but with many hands the job was quickly finished leaving the kids extra time to play on the now super clean playground.

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Pack For A Purpose is an organization that Five String discovered before we left the United States for the Baja Peninsula. This organization operates around the world asking vacationers or travelers to pack a few donatable supplies that can be dropped off to charities or non-profit organizations in the area where they are visiting. Five String went to the Pack for a Purpose web page and entered our destination as La Paz, Mexico. He was then directed to Tailhunter International, a restaurant in La Paz, that collects donated goods from tourists and supplies them to local La Paz groups and charities. The Tailhunter International site listed the supplies needed by Fundacion Ayuda Ninos La Paz A.C., an organization providing the basic support of food and education for children and adolescents from impoverished areas of La Paz. We picked these items up when we were still in Montana and tucked them under a seat in the Mazda5 to drop off at Tailhunter when we arrived in La Paz. This was such a great find on Five String’s part because through Pack for a Purpose we can easily find out what donations are needed by charitable organizations in each new area that we travel to.

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A Life Like Mine

“Be grateful for what you have”. As parents it is a common phrase that we have often used with our children at the dinner table, when there is an argument over toys, or when they aren’t too impressed with the nightly accommodations (tent, cabin, hostel, etc.). However, it wasn’t until the last year that the younger Fives really started to understand just how grateful they should be for their extremely fortunate circumstances. DSC02259-picsay As part of home school the younger Fives have been reading through the book A Life Like Mine: How children live around the world. This over-sized book, packed with wonderful photographs, is published by DK in association with UNICEF. The book explains the basic needs of every child (water, food, shelter, healthcare, safety) and shows how these needs are being met, or in many circumstances not being met, all over the world. The kids love how A Life Like Mine clearly illustrates concepts such as daily water use and they really enjoy the in depth profiles of children from all over the world. On a recent morning of home school the kids were blown away to discover that while they eat 3 meals a day (with several snacks mixed in), many children only eat once per day if at all. They have also come to appreciate having running water in our house now that they have read about the many children who have to walk great distances just to bring home a bucket of water. This is as much water as someone in our family might accidentally waste when leaving the faucet running while brushing their teeth. 4864287206_14f41bab96_o It has been great to see the kids gain a greater understanding about the lives of other children from all over the world. Through reading A Life Like Mine and through donating to charities they have become very interested in some of the current conflicts affecting children. They are learning about what happens to children refugees of war in Syria and beginning to understand the impact that natural disasters like that in the Philippines can have on the lives of children. In addition as a family we have recently started volunteering for a local organization in La Paz that provides breakfast for school students who would normally go without (we will post more on this in the coming month).

While they feel really good about helping other children whenever possible, they have also had moments of frustration as they learn about the poor living conditions of kids their own age. It is hard for them to understand why these situations can’t be fixed and there are times when they have felt a bit helpless as to how they can really make a difference. In these cases it can be hard for us as parents to offer them comfort as we often feel the same way. However, the lesson that we can impress on them is that we should always do what we can do to help others and always remember to be grateful for the life that we have been given. Being able to travel, learn, and play together as a family is such an amazing gift that we are grateful for each and every day. DSC02400-picsay

The Season for Giving

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Like many families, our end of the year tradition includes giving to charity. While we have picked out charities as a family for several years now, this was the first year everyone was ready to pick out their own organization. Gathering around the whiteboard on New Year’s Eve, we brainstormed the types of charities we each wanted to donate to. From there, internet research and Charity Navigator (an organization that rates charities based on how well they spend their money and on their transparency) helped each one of us find the exact organization to support. The kids also put their math skills to work as they helped figure out how much money was left after each person’s donation. It was a wonderful way to spend time together as a family and get into the spirit of giving for the New Year.

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High Five: Arbor Day Foundation: Replanting Trees in National Forests
Why I Chose This Organization: I want to plant new trees in the United States. I like climbing them. I feel like Super Why with my dog Woofter to the rescue!
About the Organization (from their website): “Twenty-five years ago wildfires in our National Forests caught the attention of the American people like never before. And today, the need for replanting these trees is greater than ever. The impact of donations from Arbor Day Foundation members has been tremendous—replenishing these forests, providing wildlife habitat for endangered species and protecting the crystal clear waters of western rivers.”

Five Ball: Fauna and Flora International
Why I Chose This Organization: Nature is a part of us, so I wanted a charity that was really good for animals and the Earth.
About the Organization (from their website): “OUR VISION: A sustainable future for the planet, where biodiversity is effectively conserved by the people who live closest to it, supported by the global community.”

Five of Hearts: Save the Children, Syria
Why I Chose This Organization: Even though I know kids in La Paz are struggling, they still might have homes and families. In Syria there are guns everywhere, and kids might have lost their parents or might not have a home to go to that is safe.
About the Organization (from their website): “Save the Children gives children in the United States and around the world what every child deserves – a healthy start, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. When disaster strikes, we put children’s needs first. We advocate for and achieve large-scale change for children. We save children’s lives. Join us.”

Five Spice: Women for Women
Why I Chose This Organization: After reading a book about World War II in Europe, I was really shocked about the extremely harsh conditions women faced, especially at the hands of the invading armies after the war was over. Lots of charities help while the conflict still rages, but I wanted to focus on a group dealing with the aftermath.
About the Organization (from their website): “Women for Women International provides women survivors of war, civil strife and other conflicts with the tools and resources to move from crisis and poverty to stability and self-sufficiency, thereby promoting viable civil societies. We’re changing the world one woman at a time.”

Five String: Democracy Now!
Why I Chose This Organization: I turn to independent media (not supported by advertising and commercials) for my news and want to support the great work they do in bringing a more critical and in-depth look at what is going on in the world.
About the Organization (from their website): “Democracy Now! is a national, daily, independent, award-winning news program hosted by journalists Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez. Pioneering the largest public media collaboration in the U.S.”

Family Volunteering with Young Children

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We have a confession to make…it’s been over 6 years since the last time since the elder Fives volunteered. Back before the Fives children were born, we used to donate blood, volunteer at soup kitchens, and things of that nature.  Notwithstanding  a few failed attempts (such as walking out of a blood drive after waiting for 45 minutes with the kids in tow), we haven’t even come close to going beyond wanting to volunteer to actually getting out and doing it.

Finding a volunteering opportunity that accepts young children, let alone has the flexibility to accommodate their ever-changing needs and moods, has seemed practically impossible. But in the end, it just took a quick internet search to find some other families that have written about family-friendly ways to volunteer. In retrospect, we could and should have taken the time to see what was out there much sooner. Here are some of our favorite articles:

* Ten Ideas for Volunteering with Young Children by Code Name: Mama
* 25 Ways to Volunteer with Young Children for #GivingTuesday by Naturally Educational
* Help the Homeless with Your Kids by Hobo Mama

We’ve decided to start small. Upon contacting a local hospital and assisted-living center, we are going to make get-well cards for those who need cheering up. With a a National Day of Service coming up on Saturday, January 19th to honor Martin Luther King, Jr., we have taken the Pledge to Serve and will be spending next Saturday making and dropping off homemade cards. Going forward we hope to devote at least a day per month to volunteering, and we’re super excited to find more ways to volunteer on the fly, no matter where we are.